TV Highlights

American Horror Story: Freak Show

FOX - 10pm

Who's in it?

Jessica Lange is back to raise hell again in the new iteration of American Horror Story, this time throwing us into the warped world of a 50s circus freak show. Look out for Kathy Bates as the Bearded Lady.

In a nutshell

Is a freak show a bit obvious as the setting for a horror saga? Yes, but then this series has always been about taking classic, even cliched horror tropes and making them seem new again. How? By ramping things up to SUCH extremes, that the craziness clobbers us over the head and leaves us dizzy, disturbed, yet desperate for more. So, having subverted and rejuvenated haunted houses, lunatic asylums and witches' covens, the devious programme makers have now turned to the freak show.

And boy, does it look incredible. The opening episode alone features an instantly iconic moment: Jessica Lange belting out a Germanic cover of Bowie's Life on Mars. We'll also meet formerly conjoined twins, a Bearded Lady, and a character called Twisty the Clown who likes to go around ripping people to pieces. That's right: yet another reason to be terrified of clowns. This guy makes the one from IT look like Ronald McDonald.

What's the verdict?

American Horror Story is the perhaps the most unlikely TV sensation ever: a monstrous mash up of ghoulish gore and decadent deviance which doesn't let up for a second. It may leave us feeling almost hungover from the adrenaline rush, but we're glad to have it back.

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07-07-2011