***Note: Spoilers from last nights season finale of AHS Freak Show below***
I am hard on Ryan Murphy and his work, I know this. It is in part because, as an artist, he sets up some of televisions most brilliant premises, yet far too often fails to sustain momentum and even worse, often manages to corrupt his original concept by the time the curtain falls. There are so many examples of this, one of the most obvious examples being Glee. One of the most original and creative pilots in years totally reversed it's original message by the show's second season. Few seem to have realized all those bullied outsiders introduced in the show pilot, quietly but quickly turned into bully's themselves. The show, once about acceptance, turned most of the characters, (those lonely outsiders who bounded together through their love of music) into self involved hypocrite's who plow through anyone who who gets in their way, not able to see beyond self and ego. This could have been done with some intent or for story, but it clearly...was not.
American Horror Story Freak Show certainly didn't go as far as Glee, but then again, it only had one season. Like most seasons of the show, the first episode introduced a concept and set of characters I couldn't wait to spend the winter involved with. Sadly, Murphy and company again forgot what they they set out to do. Last night's finale capped off an overly violent 13 hours of television where only the computer generated freaks remained still breathing by the end. I love Evan Peters, Angela Bassett and Sarah Paulson, but none of their characters were written with the heart and heroism of those in the troupe, who were actually born into the label that they so beautifully and respectfully wore.
I can forgive Murphy his improvisational story telling, (Neil Patrick Harris...) I can forgive him his erratic writing style, and all the over blown and overdrawn soliloquy anchored scenes for Jessica Lange. I can't however, forgive him for brutally murdering every freak within the show except those created by camera magic and cgi. I get that horror and violence are core to AHS, I also can see when it is overused, abused and sensationalized.
The heart and soul of Freak Show lay in Ma Petite, Meep, Pepper and especially the powerful trio of Paul (Mat Fraser) , Suzi (Rose Siggins) and Amazon Eve (Erika Ervin) By the end, all were butchered, tortured or brutally shot. I turned away after Paul's death, only looking up again when I hoped Eve might win her battle. I am sure in some writing room there was great excitement at the prospect of shooting all the freaks in such an operatic, Godfather like way. I am sure there were discussions about how it was not those being born with physical challenges which defines what a freak is, but the behaviour, bigotry, hate and horror of the human condition that is truly terrifying. I get that, I got that in the first episode. By killing though, and so brutally, each an every beacon of hope, every last one of them... you sort of shot your concept right in the third nipple.
On the plus side, having Dandy (Finn Wittrock) get his comeuppance in his tighty whities, was a nice full circle storytelling.