What Was on TV in 1950? 'AHS: Freak Show' Gives Elsa a TV Show When Dinah Shore Would Have Been Her Competition
Guys — can you honestly believe Elsa from American Horror Story: Freak Show really becomes a successful TV star? After the episode "Orphans" did a time jump and showed Pepper looking at a Life magazine featuring Elsa on the cover, it made me wonder what would Elsa's TV show in the 1950s be like?
The magazine cover from 1958 had Elsa prominently featured with the headline, "TV's Elsa Mars: She Still Owns Friday Night." Uh, excuse me, but I thought Elsa was a pathetic, talentless soul who preyed on those less fortunate than her to gain fame and power, so how the hell did she come to "own Friday night"? Actually, as I just wrote that I realized that's probably exactly how she became famous 'cause isn't that how everyone does it? (Juuuuusssst kidding. I heart you always and forever, celebrities.)
I mean, I loved Elsa's rendition of David Bowie's "Life on Mars" just as much as the next freak (isn't she so clever? Her last name is Mars, so it's kind of like life ... on her. Mind = blown). But I was shocked to see it actually brought her fame. Now, we are talking about goddamn Jessica Lange here, so I, of course, should have realized that her talent could not be stopped (even in the form of Elsa Mars). Now, there is a chance that the Life magazine that Pepper was reading in 1962 wasn't real and that it was just in her mind (American Horror Story likes to play us like that), but let's assume Stanley somehow stayed true to his word and helped Elsa make it to Hollywood. (How would that dude even have connections to the entertainment industry? Does he show his epic schlong and just get people TV shows?)
What would Elsa's show look like? Now in the late 1950s, live variety shows were the equivalent to Breaking Bad — everybody loved 'em and you were judged for not watching them (this is a hard fact). And the real-life person that Elsa would probably most comparable to is Dinah Shore. Shore was born in Tennessee (a far cry from Elsa's Germany), but she was a super successful TV star with a multitude of variety shows, including The Dinah Shore Chevy Show that ran from 1956 to 1963. You can see a video of the show below (and jump to 6:05 to see Shore singing).
Slightly hokey, self-centered, and delusional (although the audience is loving it), this is what I imagine Elsa's TV show being like. The exceptions are I would expect Elsa to be more sensual and I have a hard time seeing her introducing guests with genuine respect and giving up the limelight. (And lucky for Elsa, Google didn't exist in the 1950s, because one little Google search would have showed that Elsa had been a part of torture porn and her mainstream TV career would have been ruined.)
Elsa had previously stated she would never stoop to the level of television (TV is for peasants! torture porn is art!), but when that's the way you can get famous, you gotta sometimes sell your soul a bit (which we know Elsa is not against doing that).
If I lived in the 1950s, I picture myself sitting on the couch in my poodle skirt on a Friday night, turning on The Elsa Mars Show before heading out to the Enchantment Under the Sea dance. And I'm sure my favorite TV stars Elsa Mars and Dinah Shore would have been the perfect frenemies.