Mon. May 16th, 2022

American Horror Story has become a hit TV show every Wednesday night across the county. While logging onto Twitter or Facebook, I am always able to come across dozens of updates from people watching the show, something I wouldn’t be happy about if I was an avid watcher and didn’t get to see the episode while it was on.

I have watched to first two episodes of the show this season, and I’m sure like many other people, I have been a little bit frightened. While the show has always been creative and has had a dark and deadly side to it, I think this season has taken the cake for most disturbing.

Watching the show I would think to myself, where in the world did the writers and producers come up with these ideas for characters? I know that this season is titled “Freak Show,” but some of the people are truly scary.

It turns out that many of the characters that are part of the show were people in real life that actually had these body deformations. Each character in the show is based off of real people that were part of a real live freak show.

Jimmy Darling, the man with the obnoxiously large hands and fingers is inspired by Fred Wilson, who was also known as “The Lobster Boy.” Wilson had a condition known as ectrodactyly, which in simple terms means monstrous fingers.

Well-known actor Kathy Bates landed a spot in the series for her role as Ethel Darling, otherwise known as “The Bearded Woman.” Her real-life character was known as Annie Jones, who had a moustache and sideburns at age five, and the condition is known as hirsutism, or the unwanted male-pattern hair growth in women.

Eli Bowen plays inspiration to Rose Sigguns, the legless woman how rides around on a skateboard. Eli lived with a condition known as phocomelia, a genetic disorder referred to as “sealed limbs.” This didn’t stop him from doing multiple stunts with missing limbs and living to the age of 79.

One of everyone’s favorite characters so far is Ma Petite, whose name fits the fact the she is portraying Lucia Zarate, who was the smallest person who ever lived, weighing in at a whopping four pounds. Zarate suffered from type II primordial dwarfism.

One (or two) of the stars of the freak show is Bette and Dot Tattle. These are the conjoined twins that have one body but two heads. This type of conjoined twins happens when two embryos fuse together. The real-life people were Millie and Christine, known as “The Two-Headed Nightingale.” These two characters sing throughout the show, though one is much better.

These are conditions that could happen to anyone and are still in existence today. Similar to how the characters in the show don’t like to be called freaks, be mindful if you are to ever come across someone like this. And be sure to tune into American Horror Story: Freak Show Wednesday nights at 10 p.m. to catch these realistic portrayals of real people.

Austin Zelenak is a student majoring in communication studies.  He can be reached at

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