There’s still a bit of time before the reveal of the super-mysterious, Benz-winning theme to the hopefully-not-shitty Season 6 Premiere of American Horror Story. Speculation is fine, especially when a free car is involved—but really, does it matter? If S1-5 proved anything, it’s that this franchise can flourish or fuck up based on pretty much any concept, and that “theme” is a term used quite loosely (see the previous AHS column, a very serious retrospective that was like 100 words shorter once 80% of the “hot”s were deleted).
What we do have is a little information on cast. Confirmed to be returning are Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters, Denis O’Hare, Lady Gaga, Kathy Bates, Angela Bassett, Finn Wittrock, and a bunch of the guys that all sorta looked alike on purpose from Season 5, including the yoga guy from ‘Magic Mike.’
And the characters are what matter, right?
So far, AHS has included everyone from nuns to (literally) the World’s Smallest Woman. Making a list of Best Characters was almost impossible—even though Evan Peters has his own special list of best AHS performance rankings that, um, oddly existed way before this column was ever conceived—and will be included, of course, at the end.
The only way to go about it was to write down twenty-five favorites, narrow it to twenty, then press forehead to paper while muttering, “Shit, shit, shit,” repeatedly. Eventually each actor was limited to one performance apiece to make it manageable, and the number turned out to be eight. Yeah, okay, Lily Rabe accidentally ended up here twice. She earned it. The woman is a goddess. Hopefully she pops up at least once in S6, the way she did in S5.
Best American Horror Story Characters
“All monsters are human.”
This character was the epitome of good concept, good writing, and perfect execution. Nuns are scary, their armor made of self-righteousness and zeal as much as the black habit. Sister Jude also had a cabinet full of canes, no respect for psychiatry, and all the secrets one hopes a figure this confident could be hiding.
2. ‘Sister Mary Eunice’. Lily Rabe (S2, Asylum)
“I wasted so much time trying to be a good girl…”
Two sides of the same coin make for the best performances. It seemed okay to want to smack Sister Mary Eunice at some point during the first half of S2; she did so much groveling. That made the flip so much sweeter – one blink and Lily Rabe might as well have been a different person. The devil was in her eyes AND her lipstick.
3. ‘Tate Langdon’. Evan Peters (S1, Murder House)
“I did something bad, didn’t I?”
Everyone who grew up in the 1990s that had a boner for Jordan Catalano went apeshit for Tate. Damn, Evan Peters. Brooding and uncomfortable in your slouchy clothes, with big eyes and deep, deep psychological issues? Sixteen-year-old you made thirty-something me feel like a pervert. By the time all was revealed, it was too late to go back.
“You can’t be your best self until you find your tribe.”
A beautiful, barefoot, Stevie Knicks-worshipping super-powerful earth witch. She danced, burned, hissed, conjured, then danced a little more. Apparently no good soul goes unpunished. The writers will never, ever, be forgiven for what they did to you, dryad.
5. ‘Sally’. Sarah Paulson, (S5, Hotel)
“Show me right from wrong.”
Of course you were named for a character in ‘Nightmare Before Christmas,’ had smeared eyeliner, chainsmoked and did heroin. Sarah Paulson perfectly played the 1990s filthy poet: leopard print coat and talent lost to drugs, chasing love with a needle and thread.
“I’m not naive to the ways of men. Their need to objectify, to conquer. They see what they want to see.”
One person, two faces. This was a stroke of genius; planting a visual moral compass smack in the middle of the cast. Red hair and fluid image, Frances Conroy can do no wrong, and her young other-side played by Breckinridge was like a slinky, bored cat. Moira was an oracle and a sexbot, determined by who looked.
“Love kills a lot more than hate.”
A light in the dark – in the way of Misty Day, a character you actually wanted to see happy. She showed style and world-weary wisdom collected through pain, spouted around a cigarette holder with Bea Arthur deadpan delivery. If ‘Hotel’ had a conscience, it would be Liz.
“You ruined my Halloween! I hate you, I hate you, I hate you!”
Season 4 sucked. It’s over and dead. Dandy was the worst of all. But Finn Wittrock’s character (and performance) was so hatable, so irritating, so memorable, that the actor was unrecognizable inside his whining, screaming, brat facade. You have to hand it to them. Maybe. Is a character so detestable he was the final straw in a shitty season and made viewers finally bail, what you want? Eh, maybe not.
Are we ready to toss aside any pretense that we call Evan Peters anything other than Tate, or modifications thereof, inside our heads? Good. Moving along.
‘Tate Langdon’. (S1, Murder House – “The Original Tate”)
“I don’t want to hurt you! Though I do have to kill you.”
‘James March’. (S5, Hotel – “Mustache Tate”)
“In your black heart of hearts, you know. You’re just like me.”
‘Kyle Spencer’. (S3, Coven – “FrankenTate”)
(Says absolutely nothing interesting, makes good mute puppy after resurrected, though)
‘Kit Walker’. (S2, Asylum – “Greaser Tate”)
“Humans are like glass. We break and don’t get fixed.”
‘Jimmy Darling’. (S4, Freakshow – “Lobster Tate”)
“I don’t bite.”
That’s all I’ve got … for now.
On the night of Wednesday, September 14th, someone who cares way too much about this franchise, and way too much about Evan Peters, will be ready to type horrible and wonderful things. Ready to be awed or disappointed. Ready for blood, nudity, and maybe even bloody Evan Peters nudity. And try to get all those thoughts down in a somewhat coherent and concise play-by-play, which will hopefully be the beginning of a conversation with YOU. Because we don’t ALL have people that want to sit next to us and hear, “This part is good, it’s sexy but I feel bad for thinking it’s sexy, but the blood just sort of makes a rainbow, and he’s hot – hey, I remember her! Her sister was the one in the movie with the guy from …”
Some of us have to go it alone. And hope that in the following days, random people on the Internet will read the ramblings and say, “Yes! I thought that, too!” Or “She has no concept of how story structure works.” Just read the damned weekly coverage, okay? God, promotion is hard.