As amazing as the current season of “American Horror Story” has been so far, with its extraordinary physical specimens, murderous intrigues, and gratuitous tighty-whitey workouts by its petulant villain, the whole thing has also been imbued with a certain creeping melancholy: the further we get into the fantastic plot of “Freak Show,” the closer we come to Jessica Lange’s last appearance as the series’ grande dame.
It’s been widely reported that this will be La Lange’s last season on the show, without so much as a whisper of news that she might reconsider and stay. And with the end of “Freak Show” already looming, it’s time to stop pussyfooting around reality: Jessica Lange CANNOT be finished with “American Horror Story” yet. We won’t allow it! And here’s why.
1. She’s clearly not done doing accents.
Between this season’s sultry German growl and the gritty Boston patois of “American Horror Story: Asylum,” Jessica Lange is clearly not done displaying her talent for dialect. We need more!
2. Nobody delivers a better one-liner.
This woman has been responsible for all the most quotable lines in four seasons of horror stories, from this year’s quip about (ahem) cherry pie, to every time she said “Lana Banana” in “Asylum,” to a veritable buffet of bitchery worth repeating in “Coven.” Who’s going to give us our notable quotables if Jessica Lange leaves? Emma Roberts? I THINK NOT.
3. And nobody makes bad look so good.
From Constance Langdon to Elsa Mars, Lange’s characters have dominated the fashion scene of “American Horror Story,” and nobody wears the show’s fabulous wardrobe better. Even her role as a nun included a peek at some serious style sense under that habit.
4. Her musical numbers are the highlight of every season.
From “The Name Game” to “Life on Mars,” AHS reaches its pinnacle every time La Lange suits up for a song.
5. We need her to protect us from the patriarchal male.
Fact: If Jessica Lange leaves this show, it will lose its best (and perhaps only) line of defense against an invading army of Don Drapers and Walter Whites, led by Woody Harrelson’s “True Detective” character riding atop a giant wolf. This is a real threat, and it is terrible.
6. Without Jessica Lange, “American Horror Story” loses the thing that makes it a cutural game-changer.
In all seriousness: for all its camp, gore, and willingness to push the limits of good taste, “American Horror Story” is also a triumphant rare bird in the mainstream TV jungle; it’s a show dominated by female narratives, with a sultry grande dame at its helm.
Jessica Lange is 65 years old, an age at which women in Hollywood are usually relegated to sexless grandmotherly roles — that is, unless they’re serving as the butt of a joke about how gross it is when old ladies want to get laid. But on AHS, Lange plays characters who are both unabashedly desirous and widely accepted as desirable; in four seasons, she’s had more sex than any of the show’s young ingenues.
And until more roles are written for more actresses who can fill Lange’s groundbreaking shoes, we need her right where she is: on “American Horror Story,” front and center, killing off dusty sexist TV tropes one marvelous schtup at a time.
Yes: Please don’t leave us.