LENA DUNHAM WHUT (AMERICAN HORROR STORY RECAP)
“You wanna get nuts? C’mon, let’s get nuts.”
--Bruce Wayne (Michael Keaton)
So we all know this show is just always bugshit insane. But this episode brought us to new levels of bugshit, and I love it but I hate it and what is happening?
Everyone’s favorite, Lena Dunham, guest stars as Valerie Solanas, the woman who attempted to assassinate Andy Warhol in 1968. We meet her as she’s getting pounded in the backseat of an old car. The john only has five bucks (hey, I watch The Deuce and unless prices went way up from 1968 to 1971, she’s selling herself short), which she takes and goes to the gun store. “How many bullets can I get for five bucks?” she asks.
The show does a decent job with most of the history here (until it goes off the rails, more on that later.) Valerie Solanas was a writer, a radical feminist, manifesto composer, lesbian, prostitute, abuse victim, legit man-hater, paranoid schizophrenic, and Andy Warhol shooter. Despite my earlier claim, I don’t actually like Lena Dunham all that much. But I do think she did a good job here. She plays Solanas a bit like an angry Lady PopEye. Which, along with that wig, is a strong choice. We get to see Dunham as Solanas reading her SCUM Manifesto (I would have called it Womynifesto, but I’m third wave like that) to her growing cult of mostly sex workers and then some gay men. She is just like, straight out, men are turds and deserve to be eradicated. Women should take over and just murder all men.
Given recent events...well...I mean, murder is wrong, like morally...but...we probably shouldn’t do that…?
Anyway, Solanas/Dunham is mad at Warhol for stealing or losing her work. Warhol is played by Evan Peters with a white wig and some acne scars. The wig work is strong, I’m telling you! Warhol is an asshole. A sexist, privileged asshole. He brushes her off and then she gets her five dollars worth of bullets and shoots him after he compliments her makeup (THAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED). Warhol survived (although according to Wikipedia she did shoot the shit out of him) but some blame the assassination attempt for his death twenty years later. Well, noted medical doctor Lou Reed did.
While Solanas/Dunham is locked up in the psych ward, her girlfriend Bebe Babbit and the rest of the SCUM women continue to follow her plans. They begin by creeping up on couples at Lover’s Lanes and doing double stab murders. They decide that women who collude with men, who receive their power through men, also probably deserve to die. They have cloaks and costumes. Unfortunately, one of the gay men in their midst starts messing around with the cops and sending cyphers and then the show says: THESE WOMEN WERE THE ZODIAC KILLER. Um, okay, show, you scamp. You crazy little scamp. What a thing to posit, which has no basis in reality whatsoever!
Also, show, we need to talk about the way you are contradicting established canon. In AHS: HOTEL, vampire Lady Gaga’s millionaire serial killer ghost husband, James Marsh (previously revealed as my favorite Evan Peters), hosts annual Halloween parties for serial killers, dead and alive (because as we all learned in school, ghosts can walk around like real people on Halloween. I mean, that was established in the first season. Do your homework, kids!) Anyway, at his serial killer party, the Zodiac Killer shows up all dressed in his black outfit and just sits there silent. So that’s a bit confusing. This show only cares about canon when it feels like it, and that is definitely on brand for the show.
The ladies get mad at the cypher guy and they kill him and cut him up and arrange his parts in a gross manner. Things are cut off and put in mouths. That sort of stuff.
Okay. So that’s the Lena Dunham half of the episode. In the current timeline of the show, Evan Peters wins his election to city council and gets national press after surviving the shooting. They’ve identified Billy Eichner’s wife as the shooter (complete with matching sweater picture)
And Sarah Paulson is being held by police. Adina Porter goes to visit Kai at his house, but is blocked by these dudes in matching shirts with a real fascist vibe. (I know this was shot before the alt-right manifested itself in meatspace, but I so wish they were in white polos instead of blue buttondowns.) Girlfriend is real annoyed: she sees that instead of a equal partnership, Peters is putting himself on top. She also wants to keep the ultraviolence flowing, but Peters says that has to stop now that he’s been elected. He also says that Billy Eichner is suggesting new names? And his suggestion is MLWB (Men Lead, Women Bleed). Iy yi yi, show.
Porter is so mad, and she runs into a mysterious lady with a great Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction wig. That lady is....Frances Conroy, forever Ruth Fisher to me but also the Balenciaga witch from AHS: Coven
Conroy is the grown up girlfriend of Valerie Solanas, here to school the women of Peters’ cult about the inequities of men. Alison Pill, Billie Lourd, and Porter meet this living legend at the restaurant and learn about her story. They are like, damn girl, that’s crazy but also you are right. Men suck and they want all the power. We should do something about all of this.
And do something they certainly do! They grab Billy Eichner and tie him to a table in the meat locker. They ask him why Meadow had to take the fall. He says that Paulson was supposed to save her? He sort of begs for mercy but he also calls them bitches, and Pill straight chainsaws his arm off and blood is everywhere. I’m sad because Eichner is great and now he’s dead. The sisters are apparently going to be doing it for themselves.
Porter is next seen reporting from a grisly murder scene, where Eichner’s dismembered body was found, covered in pond SCUM and arranged in an odd shape. She looks in the camera, relaying her best fuck you glare to Peters.
BUT, TWIST ALERT: Conway is in league with Evan Peters and is acting at his direction. The whole thing was a setup and the women of the Insane Clown Posse are falling right in line.
So...Peters intends to spread fear and create division between the genders. I think it’s weird and not great that gay men were the targets of the extreme violence in this episode. The whole Zodiac killer angle is just the wild brain fart of the writers, not backed at all in history/fact/logic. I just don’t like that.
I was also reflecting on the argument that Mare Whittingham’s fantastic feminist character made last week. She said that Charles Manson was a manifested backlash to women’s lib. At first I was like, yaaasss qween. But I don’t think logic bares that out. Most of my knowledge of Manson comes from the excellent podcast, “You Must Remember This” and Karina Longworth suggests that Manson manipulated women lost in the “free love” and drug gutters of California. But Manson’s stated grievance was some crazy bullshit around the coming race war. So he may have profited from women’s lib but he was animated by racial hatred.
But guess what, my grizzlebutts? MILD SPOILER ALERT:
Some time soon we will see Peters playing Manson! How terrible and batshit will it be?!