The latest season of the hit FX TV series, American Horror Story premiered on Oct. 8 and featured a scene that foreshadows the possibility of turning the show into a musical extravaganza. Subtitled as Freakshow, the newest AHS series focuses on the happenings of one of the final freak show carnivals produced in America.
American Horror Story has been presented as an anthology series, with every season consisting of mostly the same cast, but within a different setting and time period and playing different roles. AHS veteran, Jessica Lange plays Elsa Mars, a German ex-pat who serves as the ring-leader for a failing freak show. As all of Lange’s characters have been throughout the series, this one is no exception to her repertoire of deeply troubled characters with many alternative motives. Lange executes each of her scenes brilliantly, undoubtably, working extremely diligently when it comes to script analysis and character research. One could even consider her the Meryl Streep of modern television.
One particular newfound trait in the character of Elsa Mars is her burning desire to become a star and have her voice heard across the world. As ring-leader, Lange’s character takes center-stage when opening the freak show act. In the premiere of the latest season, Lange as Elsa stands in the spotlight and begins belting out the American Horror Story rendition of David Bowie’s Life On Mars.
A historical accuracy was purposefully overlooked in having Lange sing the aforementioned song by Bowie. The setting of American Horror Story: Freakshow takes place in the year of 1952 whereas Bowie’s single was not released until the 1970’s. Creator Ryan Murphy stated that he was fully aware of the continuity inaccuracy because he plans to make use of songs from all generations that deal with similar themes that are discussed in Life On Mars. Murphy continued to tell that he wanted to pay homage to the legendary filmmaker Baz Luhrmann who is known for morphing unlikely combinations of music and period to create a timeless and incredibly picturesque result. Examples of such work would include Moulin Rouge! and the most recent version of The Great Gatsby starring Leonardo DiCaprio.
On the topic of Murphy’s song choices for American Horror Story: Freakshow, the creator stated that he completely disregarded time period and found melodies that were written due to the artist feeling unworthy, different or like an outsider to society, flowing in sync with the entire theme of the show’s new season. Songs by artists like Lana Del Ray, Fiona Apple and Kurt Cobain will appear later in the series as more actors such as Sarah Paulson showcase their vocal talents.
The announcement of such musicality in such a mass brings forth the question of whether or not American Horror Story is now becoming a musical TV show. With Murphy’s former musical series, Glee beginning its final season, perhaps this is a move by the creator to keep his love for music and performance alive in his work. One must then question if the addition of musical numbers will strengthen or weaken the effect American Horror Story has on audiences.
Whether American Horror Story is turning into a musical TV show or not, Murphy and fellow creators will continue to provide quality entertainment to the television industry as they always have and will do so in a tasteful manner. American Horror Story: Freakshow is now playing Wednesday nights on FX and can be streamed on FX Now. View Jessica Lange’s performance of Life On Mars below.
Opinion by Cody Collier