The news that Michael Chiklis is now a member of the regular cast in American Horror Story season four, titled Freak Show, brings one question to mind; will he be the geek? Of course, the type of geek being portrayed in a television show about a freak show, will not fit the modern “definition” of the word. Being a geek now entails being a cross of eccentric overly intelligent individual and an expert in any given area.
Before the term became a sort of “backhanded” compliment, geek meant something else entirely. Possibly taken from the German word “geck” which translates roughly to “fool,” it was later changed to refer to circus sideshow performers who were the opening act for the carnies’ freak show.
The geek stood in the center of a circus ring and chased a live chicken down and, after catching the poor creature, would bite off their heads. The first time the word geek was used in popular fiction was the 1946 novel Nightmare Alley, written by William Lindsay Gresham, which was later made into a film.
Other “cultural” references have been made to the freak show geek in The Simpsons, the X-Files and even Bob Dylan’s Ballad of a Thin Man. In 1989, a novel by Katherine Dunn, titled Geek Love is all about freak shows and the circus, and one character, Crystal Lil is a female geek. In the book, Lil reveals that her teeth are damaged from biting off chicken heads. Nice.
Geeks were often alcoholics or drug addicts and apparently it was a point of pride from professional carnies to have never worked in a circus that had a freak show and its opening geek act. The news that Michael Chiklis has been signed onto the regular cast in American Horror Story immediately starts fans of the previous three seasons asking what part he’ll play, could he be the geek of AHS Freak Show?
What creator Ryan Murphy has revealed so far, is that Michael will be the husband of Kathy Bates’ character and the father of Evan Peters. Arguably, Peters could be the obvious choice for geek-dom as he has played some seriously messed up characters on AHS in the past. Much different from his “fanboy” of Hit Girl in Kick-Ass, who was, externally at least, quite normal.
But how much more interesting would it be for Chiklis to play the head chomping character? Certainly Michael has played some pretty fantastic characters – pun intended – he was Ben Grimm aka The Thing and he has worked in at least one horror film as the cop in Rise: Blood Hunter. He’s due for another “outside-the-box” role considering that Fantastic Four, and its sequel, were done way back in 2005 and 2007 respectively and Rise in 2007 as well.
Michael Chiklis has played strong characters in most of what he’s done for television. His last TV role was in the, sadly, short lived CBS series Vegas as a mafioso in charge of a casino opposite cowboy cop Dennis Quaid. His character of Vincent Savino was yet another strong part, a man capable of violence when needed and diplomacy where violence was not needed.
Letting imaginations run wild, how great would it be for Michael Chiklis to be the geek in American Horror Story, Freak Show? Romance is not unheard of in geek fiction, just look at the plot of the previously mentioned book of Katherine Dunn’s Geek Love. Michael has always played strong aggressive characters, he would be brilliant if allowed to play against type. Just a thought for Ryan Murphy to chew on while writing Chiklis’ character…
By Michael Smith