Set in 1950s Jupiter, Florida, Jessica Lange runs a failing sideshow that houses misbegotten, misshapen, miserable miscreants and deformed children of a lesser god. Her latest recruit is the 2-headed conjoined twins played with eerie distinction by returning cast member Sarah Paulson who is looked upon as a savior to bring a much-needed audience to the crude carnival.
The super-sized first episode should be watched twice to take in all of the usually over-stuffed storyline that is the norm for AHS. They're just getting started as the season previews offer a glimpse of how quickly the cast will be "fleshed" out over the unfolding weeks. Speaking of flesh, Freakshow contains the usual cringeworthy sex scenes you'd come to expect with this series. What you may not expect is seeing Meryl Streep's daughter playing a tarty candy striper having drug-addled sex with various carnie folk with wild abandon.
I'm on the fence about Kathy Bates' burly, bearded henchwoman to Jessica Lange, but I'm willing to give her a chance. (This is pre-electrolysis days, after all.) Evan Peters' penetrating charm is present as "Beardo's" beloved baby boy.
As usual, Murphy mixes "real" Americana business and pleasure with his riff on the infamous Zodiac Killer. The series' creator uses a scene that homages a couple ambushed in the woods on the verge of a shag to introduce his maniacal clown character. The clown is causing a frenzy, being touted as the scariest thing since epilady . . . I guess we'll just have to wait and see.
Check out American Horror Story on Wednesdays on FX.