Jessica Lange is trading her wild witch school for a crazy carnival.
Creator Ryan Murphy confirmed that season four of the show is going to be set at a carnival, and he also announced the title is “American Horror Story: Freak Show.”
According to Entertainment Weekly, Jessica Lange, Sarah Paulson, Angela Bassett, Evan Peters, Kathy Bates, and Frances Conroy are all returning next season. Denis O’Hare and Emma Roberts might also come back.
We already know Lange is going to play a Marlene Dietrich-like character with a German accent, and Entertainment Weekly reported she’ll be managing a 1950s freak show featuring performers that she rescued. The word “rescued” makes it sound like she’s playing a kinder character during season four, but her troupe might have to resort to drastic measures as they “do anything to keep their business around.” Because Lange’s character is based on Marlene Dietrich, I’m hoping that she’ll don a top hat and tails while talking up her troupe’s performances to carnival-goers.
Now that we finally know what next season is going to be about, it’s time to start speculating about the characters the cast members might play and the other oddities that we might see at the carnival. Here’s what I would love to see on “American Horror Story: Freak Show”:
Frances Conroy as “The Alligator-Skinned Woman”
We saw plenty of alligators in the home of swamp witch Misty Day in “American Horror Story: Coven,” and perhaps we’ll get to meet the “Alligator-Skinned Woman” in “Freak Show.” Esther Blackmon was a real freak show star who suffered from ichthyosis, a disease that left her with dry, scaly skin that resembled that of a reptile. She would be a great character to include on the show because she fought to educate the ignorant public about people with physical deformities, and I’m sure Murphy will base some characters on real people because he’s done it so many times before. Last season’s examples include the Axeman, Delphine Lalaurie, and Marie Laveau. I think Frances Conroy would be perfect for this part.
A Mermaid Body
Last season Ryan Murphy poked fun at the “Sound of Music” TV special by turning the NBC production into Madison Montgomery’s personal hell (she wasn’t even the lead!). For season four, I’d love for him to do something similar by referencing the “Mermaids: The Body Found” TV mockumetary that fooled some viewers into thinking that mermaids were real. Jessica Lange’s freak show could include a mummified mermaid body similar to P. T. Barnum’s infamous Feejee Mermaid hoax.
The Sordid Story of Lobster Boy
Grady Stiles Jr. was a real-life freak show performer who went by the name “Lobster Boy.” He was born with physical deformities that left him with claw-like hands and flipper legs, traits that ran in his family. I wouldn’t be surprised if a character based on Lobster Boy appears in “American Horror Story: Freak Show,” seeing as it’ll be set in Florida. Stiles lived in Gibsonton, Florida, a retirement community for carnies that counted famous “giant” Al Tomaini and his legless wife Jeanie (“The Half-Girl”) among its many unique residents. Jeanie talked to the press about the fate of Lobster Boy after his wife had him murdered in 1992. The performer also made headlines for killing his daughter’s fiancé and serving no jail time for the murder, and one of his daughter’s described him as “Satan himself.”
Evan Peters as a “Half and Half”
“Half and half” was the term used to refer to sideshow stars who were supposedly half-man, half-woman. However, they were often “gaffed,” or faked. One side of the performer’s body would feature makeup, long hair, and the dress of a woman. The other would feature short hair and the dress of a man. I think Evan Peters might just be pretty enough to pull off this kind of act.
Denis O’Hare as a “Glomming Geek”
After his creepy performance as Spalding, the perverted butler baby doll collector, I can totally picture O’Hare playing a “glomming geek.” Glomming geeks were performers who would swallow disgusting things for very low pay. They often bit the heads off of live chickens and snakes (this definitely sounds very “American Horror Story”).
Emma Roberts as Spidora
I hope Ryan Murphy shows us some old sideshow illusions. It would be hilarious to see Emma Roberts’ head on the body of a spider, and I’d hope that she’d respond to gawking carnival-goers with some of Madison Montgomery’s signature sass.
The Hilton Sisters
No, not those Hilton sisters! These conjoined twins were once huge celebrities, and they were featured in the cult classic “Freaks.” Violet and Daisy endured years of abuse and exploitation after being sold at birth, and their plight inspired the 1950s movie “Chained for Life,” which they also starred in. Interestingly, they were dubbed the “7th wonder of the world” in the movie poster. Because season four is set during the 1950s, it would make sense to at least reference their sad story.
Can you think of any freak show or carnival acts that you want to see on season four of “American Horror Story”?
Photo: Brian Dowling/PictureGroup/FX
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