There's a reason it's called the most spectacular show on earth. Wednesday night's American Horror Story: Freak Show "Monsters Among Us" premiere showcased countless horrors throughout its 90-minute time block. Twisty the Killer Clown, in particular, was enough in itself to send you shivering under the covers, never to be seen again. However, there was one moment that allowed fans to step out of the darkness and into the spotlight as Jessica Lange's Elsa Mars sings David Bowie's "Life on Mars?" during her Fraulein Elsa's Cabinet of Curiosities sideshow act. Donning Bowie's iconic light blue suit with matching eye shadow, this little performance proved to be a highlight of the evening and wildly entertaining — made especially memorable by a certain cameo that left us seeing more double than usual.
But like with anything that Ryan Murphy brings to this terrifying table, that particular song choice was made for a reason, and not just because it happened to have Elsa's last name in the title (though that certainly was convenient). No, in many ways, this song is a deep-rooted description of Elsa's life. Granted, Bowie songs can sometimes be a bit tricky to interpret, but for me, "Life on Mars?" is all about escapism and the desperate need to believe that there's something better out there.
Now she walks through her sunken dream, To the seat with the clearest view, And she's hooked to the silver screen.
So even though the song came out in 1971, it seems to almost freakishly fit into the 1950s time period, which jumpstarted the dawning of the age of television. Just like this girl in the song, more and more people began to rely on the media as a form of escape from reality — something we've seen Elsa do countless times throughout this episode alone.
All she's ever wanted is to be a big star. It's the real reason she organized the sideshow in the first place, and why she looks so entranced every time that projector starts rolling. The glitz and glamour of a fake reality can be very appealing for those who wish to getaway from the cruel harshness of the world they actually live in. Whether she considers herself to be one of the monsters among them or not, Elsa's freak show is an outcast to society. So what better question to pose than the idea that maybe there's more to this world than meets the eye — an alternate place that exists, where being "alien" isn't necessarily a bad thing. A new kind of life… on Mars.
Both Lange's and Bowie's performances can be found below:
Images: Frank Ockenfels/FX; beaufortplace/Tumblr