always-stealing-scenes

Final thoughts on Reply 1988

FACT: this drama has made me laugh and cry more than anything I’ve ever watched and trust me, I’ve watched a lottt of things

Lots of feelings ahead… (and spoilers). I spent a suuuper long time on this so I’d LOVEE it so much if you can give it a read or if you can talk about the drama with me ehehe (sorry it’s such a long post)!!

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I will no longer call myself Murphy trash because honestly he’s such a good character to be a fan of. This is not trash. This is quality. He always steals the scene.

10

American Horror Story: Freak Show Review

Everyone has a curiosity for the abnormal. As a species, we thrive on seeing oddities and exploring uncharted territory, discovering new things and being exposed to the unexplained. And us as humans are the source of that wonder, presenting some very interesting, and sometimes disturbing, results. So for the newest season of American Horror Story, what better than a combination of two immensely unsettling topics: the circus and human deformities. Enter the freak show, the newest subject of Ryan Murphy’s anthology horror series. But after the disappointment of Coven, can this newest addition redeem the series? In simple terms, most definitely.

American Horror Story: Freak Show takes place in Jupiter, Florida, set in 1952. Elsa Mars, played by Jessica Lange, is the owner of the last remaining freak show in the country. The business has dried up, and the public’s opinion towards freaks is less than positive. Struggling to survive, the freaks are delighted when two new members are brought to the show: Bette and Dot, twins with separate brains and sets of organs that share a single body. Excited at the prospect of new business, Elsa pampers the twins and tries to win over Dot, the more cynical and mistrusting of the two. But alas, tragedy quickly strikes the freak show. Now, against all odds the freaks must band together in the hardest of times as new enemies threaten their way of life, and more importantly, their survival. The plot is very solid, and opens up the door for all types of horrors, just like every season of the series. Throughout the season though, Freak Show holds its own the strongest since Asylum. From start to finish, an unfathomable amount of things happen, but it never feels cluttered or too fast paced. The story moves along at a perfect pace, although some stories can drag out a bit. Once resolved though, everything becomes fine and it doesn’t detract from the rest of the season.

American Horror Story has always excelled with its characters, and Freak Show is possibly the best example yet. Jessica Lange returns in graceful form for her final performance on the series as Elsa Mars, the leader and maternal figure to all the freaks. Out of all of her roles, Elsa is by far my favourite character that Lange has played. Maybe it’s because I relate with her desire to make it in show business, but there’s something entrancing about her. Lange always steals her scenes, but it feels even more amplified in Elsa, because her whole character is literally a show stealer. Elsa is an attention-seeking, over-dramatic manipulator, and what a character for Lange’s final role in the series.

Sarah Paulson plays a dual role as Bette and Dot, the conjoined twins. Considering Paulson’s talent, it should come as no surprise that she absolutely owns her roles, but Bette and Dot are definitely Paulson’s best characters out of all the seasons. The way the twin’s mentalities are explored is very intriguing, which gives Paulson gets a lot of room to expand her characters to their full potential. Evan Peters also does a fantastic job as Jimmy, the lobster boy. However, through Freak Show’s progression, I felt like Jimmy was the main character with the least progression. His character is practically identical from episode one to the finale, which is mainly where I felt the story could drag.

Newcomer to the series Finn Wittrock makes an absolutely mesmerizing performance as Dandy Mott, a spoiler mother’s boy who is completely deranged. Wittrock joins the ranks of Anthony Perkins, Christian Bale, and Michael C. Hall as a lovable psycho. Dandy is by far the most interesting character in all of Freak Show, and Wittrock put’s Lange’s scene stealing to shame. Any time he’s on screen, Wittrock owns the whole room and is impossible to turn away from. If he doesn’t come back for another season of the series, it will be a devastating loss, and Wittrock deserves tons more work.

My personal favourite addition from Coven, Emma Roberts, also returns as Maggie Esmerelda. She gives a good performance, but I feel her character was terribly underused, despite having some excellent moments. Michael Chiklis as Dell was probably my least favourite of the leads aside from Frances Conroy, who I’ve never seen to be very strong through all four seasons. Angela Bassett rides a very fine line for me between likable and cliché. On one hand, she has some very good scenes as her character develops, but then she also falls into the sassy black woman stereotype, which I’ve never found enduring. Denis O’Hare is absolutely revolting as Stanley, a detestable con man who works with Maggie. Despite me completely loathing his character, I can’t deny O’Hare plays him perfectly. Despite the character never growing, he’s exactly what the show needs him to be from beginning to end. Kathy Bates was as interesting to me as she was in Coven, which is very little. Despite her credit from Misery, I feel her talent is highly underused in the series. Finally, the supporting cast is full of excellent actors. From excellent guest roles for Neil Patrick Harris and Wes Bentley, to every performance from the actors as the variousfreaks. The supporting cast is used to full potential, which really helps build the wondrous world of the freak show.

The series has also always had great production value, but Freak Show blows all the other series away with the massive single set of the freak show, from the expanding camp ground to the glamorous tents. Every home, every car, every detail feels lifted straight out of the 1950’s which just adds to the already engrossing world Freak Show puts on display. Additionally, the music this season is particularly memorable, with Jessica Lange performing several anachronistic songs from David Bowie and Evan Peters doing a great cover of Nirvana’s “Come As You Are”. Even the atmospheric score is memorable, with many musical queues becoming running motifs that are instantly recognizable and exciting to hear time and time again, without fault.

The writing for Freak Show could go both ways, from very predictable and bland one episode, to completely shocking and exciting the next. Dialogue is fairly solid throughout, but characters could often go through development loops that felt very tedious. Regardless, the finale is absolutely spectacular. Not only for a season finale, but I feel like it could have acted as a series finale. Jessica Lange is sent off in spectacular and tear-worthy fashion, with all characters receiving satisfying ends to their long journeys. As far as finales go in American Horror Story, Freak Show’s was by far the best.

In the end, American Horror Story: Freak Show was the best season since Asylum, with Freak Show surpassing it in many regards. The story is very engaging, the acting is superb from many, despite some lacking performances. The writing was good throughout, regardless of some off episodes and lacking character development. And the production value sets a new standard for all following seasons to live up to. Despite the negatives, Freak Show may be the best season yet, and after such a high note, I’m very excited to see where Ryan Murphy takes the series next year.

*None of these gifs are mine*