I was skeptical the first time I watched American Horror Story. As a disabled person
with multiple mental illnesses, I found subtitles like “Asylum” and “Freak Show” to be disheartening at best. Despite my reservations, I began watching it. The plot had everything I love: drama, twists, thrills, and romance, yet one aspect of the plot stood out to me–its social commentary. The characters had physical disabilities and deformities, and while they were ostracized by society, they proved to be the kindest and most intelligent characters on the show.
“Freak Show” illuminated the social issues surrounding disabilities the most. With characters like Jimmy (played by Evan Peters), who was nicknamed Lobster Boy, guiding and mentoring his peers, his ingenuity and bravery became more apparent than his physical deformities. While able-bodied characters exploited and attempted to murder the “freaks,” Jimmy vowed to protect them at all costs, even trying to save his friends from a dangerous marriage.
Ironically, the able-bodied characters were a greater threat than the “freaks.”. Two
con-artists joined the freak show to kill the “freaks” and sell their bodies to a museum. While the people in the town feared the “freaks,” they should have feared their more typical-looking peers. The “freaks” lived in their own little community and had no intention of harming anyone.
Lastly, there was a beautiful moment where Jimmy embraced his disability. After one
of the con-artists convinced Jimmy to sell his lobster-like hands, another character arranged for Jimmy to get prosthetics. In one scene, the doctor asks Jimmy if he likes his new prosthetics, to which he replies, “They’re perfect.”. The camera zooms in to reveal prosthetics designed to look like lobster hands. Although Jimmy spent much of the previous episodes cursing his disability, he loved himself for who he was. He was Lobster Boy, and to him, that was perfect.