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FALL TV: ‘American Horror Story: Freak Show’ opts for gross-outs over scares

“American Horror Story: Freak Show,” set in Florida in 1952, stars Jessica Lange, Sarah Paulson, Kathy Bates, Angela Bassett and others.
“American Horror Story: Freak Show,” set in Florida in 1952, stars Jessica Lange, Sarah Paulson, Kathy Bates, Angela Bassett and others. Michele K. Short/FX

New show: American Horror Story: Freak Show

When: 10 p.m. Wednesdays on FX

Cast: Jessica Lange, Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters, Kathy Bates, Frances Conroy, Angela Bassett, Patti LaBelle, Michael Chiklis

Premise: The super-creepy “American Horror Story” franchise continues with the debut of “Freak Show,” a carnival side-show themed season set in Jupiter, Fla., in 1952.

Creator Ryan Murphy once again draws from his usual “AHS” stable of actors: Lange plays the leader of the troupe; Paulson plays Siamese twins with dueling personalities; Peters plays the good-hearted “lobster-claw” boy; Bates is the loyal bearded lady; and Bassett is a hermaphrodite married to a “strong man,” played by Chiklis. Outside the tents, Conroy plays the doting mother to a spoiled man-child with an evil side, and LaBelle is their maid, with plenty of suspicions about weird Mr. Dandy (Finn Whittrock).

Denis O’Hare, Jamie Brewer, Gabourey Sidibe, Wes Bentley and Emma Roberts will also make appearances.

Last but not least, an utterly unrecognizable John Carroll Lynch plays the most horrifying clown you’ll ever encounter (if you’re one of the few people in the world not terrified of clowns, Twisty should take care of that in about five seconds). FX didn’t release a photo of him or I’d have him plastered across the top of this page, just to keep you awake tonight, but you can get a glimpse in the teaser below.

Based on the first two episodes, it looks like Murphy is once again opting for gross-outs over scares (much like last season’s “Coven”), but with a huge, heaping dose of kinky. (And yes, Twisty the clown is horrifying, but the first two episodes offer few scares or moments of genuine suspense – but there is plenty of gore.)

But as with the previous three installments, “Freak Show” has that “hard to watch but can’t look away” quality that will keep me wondering throughout the whole season if I can stick it out or not.

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