• Worst Cable TV Show of the Week: American Horror Story: Freak Show on FX

    by  • November 13, 2014 • Profanity, Sex, Violence, Worst Cable Show of the Week • 9 Comments

    “The following program is rated TV-MA LSV. It contains strong language, sexual situations, violence, and nudity.”

    With a warning like that, is it any wonder that the Wednesday, November 5th episode of FX’s American Horror Story: Freak Show (10:00 p.m. ET)is the Worst Cable TV Show of the Week?


    Worst Cable TV Show of the Week

    American Horror Story: Freak Show on FX

    For the last decade, the FX network has given a showcase to Ryan Murphy, the programmer behind the Fox broadcast network’s Glee; but it was not the success of the musical teen comedy that got him this spot on cable. It was, rather, Murphy’s twisted and ultra-gory drama Nip/Tuck which garnered him attention in the eyes of network programmers and so-called “critics.” Such individuals are enamored by any program which “pushes the boundaries” – even if it pushes past the boundaries into utter depravity.

    Tired of providing relatively normal programming for a normal teen audience, Murphy eagerly grasped at the opportunity to create another of his sick, sadistic shows, and launched American Horror Story on FX. After “treating” viewers to a “murder house” filled with serial killers, an “asylum” of sadistic surgeons (which also offered Murphy the opportunity to trash the Catholic Church), and a coven of witches, this year the warped creator is offering a program appropriately subtitled “Freak Show.” While supposedly, the fact that the program is about circus sideshow performers gives the show its title, in fact pretty much anything written by Ryan Murphy would qualify for the sobriquet.

    Among the “freakish” horrors present on the program are:

    – A woman who runs a “morbidity museum,” which exhibits “exquisite human anomalies” – and if the bodies in the museum are gained through “accidents,” oh well.

    – A corrupt con man who plots to lure the sideshow performers aside, where he can kill them and sell their corpses to the museum. In one fantasy sequence, he gives poisoned cupcakes to one head on a pair of conjoined twins, then watches as one head dies and the other remains alive pleading for her life. Eventually, he suffocates her.

    – The wealthy Gloria Mott finds her maid murdered, her head lying in a pool of blood. Gloria’s son Dandy exclaims,: “She was saying awful things to me.”

    Gloria: “And like everything else in your wretched life, I have to clean it up!”

    Afterward, Gloria has her gardener dig a grave. She and Dandy bury the body, then plant flowers over the corpse.

    Dandy: “The body will decompose down there and give life to these flowers. In spring, we will look down at the blanket of color and say, ‘She did not die in vain.’

    Gloria: “Mental perversions are an affliction of the extremely affluent.” (If this is true, it makes one wonder how much money Ryan Murphy makes.)

    – Sideshow performer and hermaphrodite Desi goes to a doctor and learns she has had a miscarriage, but that, contrary to what she had always believed, she is genetically and functionally 100% female. As a result, she leaves her boyfriend Del, who himself is in love with a gay male prostitute. This section of the show involves graphic descriptions of female genitalia, as well as dialogue from the prostitute like, “It’s okay, except when there’s blood in my shorts when a guy gets a little rough, or a load in my hair,” and “You’re out the door before I can wipe my dick off.”

    – Despite the fact that Desi’s decision to dump Del would free him to move in with his prostitute boyfriend, Del instead goes to the doctor (who has offered to surgically correct Desi’s abnormalities) and threatens him, breaking the surgeon’s hands and announcing:

    Del: “Let’s see you operate with those! Now, you might be thinking about talking to the police. But if you talk to them, or to Desi, or to anyone else, I’ll pay a visit to those beautiful little grandkids of yours. Their tiny little fingers will snap like twigs.”

    – Meanwhile, Dandy hires the male prostitute and has both of them strip off their clothes. As kindergarten-style music plays on the soundtrack, Dandy dons a clown mask and repeatedly stabs the prostitute, blood spraying everywhere. The prostitute manages to crawl several feet, coughing and choking on his own blood while screaming for help. Dandy stabs him again in the back and dismembers the still-living prostitute – then goes home to his mother, still in his underwear and covered in blood.



    As mentioned, entertainment executives and alleged “critics” go wild for such content, thinking it somehow “breaks new ground.” (Were the same “critics” transported back to ancient Rome, they would no doubt cheer as Christians were thrown to the lions – and network executives would be doing the throwing.) There is also an infinitesimally tiny portion of the cable viewing audience eager for such sadism. Given we live in a free society, networks are free to make such programming, “critics” to praise it, and audience members to watch it. But there is no reason why the vast majority of cable and satellite subscribers should be forced to support such programming when they never watch, don’t want, and probably abhor it.

    At one point in the episode Elsa, a singer and head of the “freak show,” is offered a chance to be on TV, but refuses with the words,: “I would rather be boiled in oil than be on television… I consider it to be the death of Art and Civilization.”

    As Ryan Murphy’s programs prove, Elsa has a point.

    For depraved language and sexual content, and ultra-graphic, gory violence FX’s American Horror Story is the Worst Cable TV Show of the Week.


    Taco Bell sponsored this program. To contact them with your concerns, click here.



    Christopher Gildemeister is the PTC’s Head of Research Operations. He began as an Entertainment Analyst at the PTC in 2005. From 2007-2016, he was Senior Writer/Editor, responsible for communicating the PTC’s message to the public through newsletters, columns, and the PTC Watchdog blog. Dr. Gildemeister holds a Ph.D. from The Catholic University of America.

    9 Responses to Worst Cable TV Show of the Week: American Horror Story: Freak Show on FX

    1. Alex
      December 8, 2014 at 7:33 am

      Nobody is making you pay for cable. If a certain channel means enough to you, buy cable. If the negatives outweigh the positives, don’t get cable. BE A PARENT and be responsible for your own family, not mine.

      • Christopher Gildemeister
        December 8, 2014 at 8:29 am

        Translation: if you want the Disney Channel for your kids, you should be FORCED to pay for garbage you never watch and don’t want! Consumers should have absolutely no choice beyond pay for nothing, or pay for all of it!

        The cable industry must love people like you.

    2. Nicholas
      November 17, 2014 at 4:03 pm

      If you don’t like a specific television program maybe you should show some self control and not watch it.

      “Given we live in a free society, networks are free to make such programming, “critics” to praise it, and audience members to watch it. But there is no reason why the vast majority of cable and satellite subscribers should be forced to support such programming when they never watch, don’t want, and probably abhor it.”

      I don’t watch Disney Channel, TLC or ABC Family but I don’t complain about paying for it in a package. If you’re so worried about where your money is going perhaps you should cancel your cable or satellite subscription and make due with the available content you don’t “abhor.” Obviously there is an audience for programming such as American Horror Story since it continues to be renewed and do well in the ratings. Networks don’t continue to produce shows that lose money for them despite your ignorant claims to the contrary.

      Another option available to you would be to stop wasting your time and energy on a meaningless cause. There are starving and abused children that go to sleep hungry, don’t have a proper winter coat to wear to school, or an adult to confide their troubles in. Instead of championing those causes you spend your time attempting to rid television of programs that you don’t approve of instead of simply using the parental controls that are available on every television and cable box or the even simpler solution of not tuning in at all and minding your own business.

      Just because you don’t like or approve of something doesn’t make it wrong or inappropriate for those that enjoy it.

      • Christopher Gildemeister
        November 19, 2014 at 10:50 am


        Essentially, what you’re saying is: “Everyone should be forced to fund my pornography.” But why stop there? Why not force everyone to pay for your heroin habit, too? And if other people don’t like it, well, too bad for them. “Other people have no rights; only *I* have rights. Other people have no right to disagree with me; they must be forced to pay for what *I* like.”

        In fact, you’re saying that those who disagree with you shouldn’t be allowed to have any freedom of speech, any control over what their money goes to support, or any place in society — they just have to passively submit to whatever *you* think is right, and pay for things *you* enjoy. And you call us censors?

        As for “wasting time and energy,” we feel that showing concern for the future well-being of our children and our society is not a “meaningless cause.”

        One could as easily ask, “Why aren’t you working in an abused child shelter, instead of ‘wasting time and energy’ watching Sons of Anarchy?”

        For responses to your other points, please click here.

        • Bill Blanchard
          November 19, 2014 at 12:51 pm

          Wow.. I happen to enjoy the raw portrayal of life in a rogue motorcycle club. Would I sign up – NO. That said – I am mainstream middle american non-extremist. So, you state that you are not wasting your time and energy. You believe in your convictions. I applaud that!! However, The issue is NOT with FX or any other outlet that decides to publish controversial material. The problem exists from the NON-commitment of Moms and Dads to effectively raise their children to the values THEY hold true. FX or other outlets are NOT your parents nor are they your role models. Organizations such as yours attempt to force public FOR PROFIT entities to spread your values. It’s not their place. So, I believe that there should be some safeguards – but not censorship. I also believe (and would win a referandum) that the safeguards should be put forth but should be enforced by the parents. You are proving that you are an extremist in your views, albeit, to protect. However, you have inadvertently alienated the majority of people that agree safeguards should be in place – because you are self appointing yourself as the guardian. You are targeting FX and the like – when most would agree your target market should be PARENTS.

          • Christopher Gildemeister
            November 19, 2014 at 3:15 pm

            The PTC is in favor of ala carte cable choice. This wouldn’t ban or “censor” any networks. It would just mean that customers would be free to pay for only those networks they actually want to watch.

            But according to you, saying that people shouldn’t have to pay for something they never use and don’t want constitutes “censorship” and “forcing your values” on others. Instead, you say, EVERYONE should be FORCED to pay for the channels YOU happen to like. That seems a lot more “extremist” in “forcing your values on others” than the PTC’s position.

            • Bill Blanchard
              November 19, 2014 at 7:35 pm

              You missed the point.. “you say, EVERYONE should be FORCED to pay for the channels YOU happen to like”.. I did not say that.. my point was that the FOR PROFIT entities are not liable to spread your values. I never said nor implied that everyone should be forced to pay for channels. FX and others are basic package channels. My main point is that you lost focus on the real target..THE PARENTS. Or the FCC – Lobby them to put constraints on the ability to access programs with a rating not suitable for all ages (not by a negative input by blocking but rather a positive entry input). But to attempt to stop any entity from airing certain material is CENSORSHIP. I agree PTC has a point with ala carte choices – Let’s say NBC/CBS/ABC decides to aire what is rated R due to nuditiy… Fine – it’s their right. Now, if you have an issue with it – don’t take their constitutional right away. Have the FCC develop a type of gatekeeper for certain rated shows. Example: A password for entry NOT a general blocking menu . Your arguement to this : that this would never work due to the nature of our society – Parents would not police these efforts. Again, to my point – Parents are the main problem. So, regardless of how you come across – it will ultimately fail – because the only constituents you are reaching are already in the choir. You may be slowing the process – but your cause is dying by a thousand cuts versus a death blow. Meaning: I wish you the best at your efforts, your focus needs to be one of compromise. Example: NBC wishes to aire an R rated nudity program. Fine – Have them put a digital entry key for the program through the set-top box & have an alternate show at that time slot. The holier than though attitude is losing ground too fast. (BTW, the FX of sons showing was not pornographic – i saw the show. No penetration or oral to private parts was shown – by calling that pornographic is what ticked me off.)

            • Christopher Gildemeister
              November 20, 2014 at 9:32 am


              You continue to impute to PTC actions and motivations which we do not undertake or hold.

              To be clear: the PTC does not say that “Sons of Anarchy” shouldn’t air. What we do say — what our press release said, and what I said previously — is that the FX network should not be on a basic cable tier where, yes, every cable and satellite subscriber is indeed FORCED to pay for it.

              The PTC has never opposed the content premium channels like HBO or Showtime or, for that matter, the Playboy Channel — because people have to deliberately choose to receive those channels. What we object to is the showing of graphic content on channels where EVERYBODY is FORCED to support it, merely by having a cable or satellite subscription. As PTC President Tim Winter said, “To receive cable news, or ESPN, or the Disney Channel, you are required to support FX.”

              The PTC is in favor of greater freedom for everyone. We’re not “censoring” or “imposing our values”; we’re just saying that nobody should be FORCED to pay for something they never use.

              Yet you, and the other “Sons of Anarchy” fans we’ve heard from, deliberately refuse to hear this message, and instead insist on calling us “censors” and casting the issue in terms of our “values.”

              I must also add, it’s more than a little unrealistic for the networks to put the entire onus of responsibility on parents. We’re not living in the 1950s anymore. People don’t have one television set, through which parents can easily control access to troublesome material. In an era where FX and other networks make their content available on smartphones, iPads, through game systems, and by dozens of other outlets, it is literally impossible for even the most conscientious parent to monitor what their child is seeing every second of every minute of every day. We do believe the entertainment industry bears some measure of responsibility for how its products are distributed. If a liquor store sells alcohol to a minor, they are held responsible under the law. But the entertainment industry has succeeded in convincing people that they bear absolutely no responsibility for the products they make or how they’re distributed…in spite of the fact that they go out of their way to make their content as widely available as possible.

              In these circumstances, saying, “Parents, do your jobs!” or “If you don’t like it, change the channel” is like a corporation dumping toxic waste into the public water supply, then telling parents, “If you don’t like it, don’t let your kids drink any water. It’s YOUR job to keep them from being poisoned — we’re not responsible!”

              I hope these points clarify PTC’s position…which, honestly, is far less “holier than thou” than that of people who shriek, “You’re just trying to censor everything and impose your values on everyone!”

            • Mal
              December 1, 2014 at 6:25 am

              I agree! I hate to use the c word but at this point my 13 year old daughter’s group of friends all watch and have watched every season of AHS including the one on now and their parents don’t seem to mind. My daughter feels left out and I have to police the internet via the tablet, the phone, the pc, the ipad etc to ensure she doesn’t get access to it. At least if it was censored better in terms of simply not allowing it online at all, I could ensure my child does not view it. Those who want the uncensored should pay to received it uncensored. What a sad society we live in when everyone uses the argument that parents should be responsible for censoring their children’s programming. Parents cannot be trusted to enforce it and everyone knows that and therefore the show gets funded and is watched by inappropriate ages everywhere.

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