Sarah Paulson confirmed that Jessica Lange is finally returning to American Horror Story: Apocalypse. The American Horror Story icon left the series after season 4, Freak Show, and I’m still not quite over it. Yes, the show has featured plenty of other formidable women – but Jessica Lange is where it’s at. So, to celebrate her return to the series, I decided to rank her characters from worst to best.
4. Elsa Mars – Freak Show (Season 4)
Now, this isn’t to say that Elsa is a bad character. Marking anything Jessica Lange touches as bad is very, very difficult. I just personally prefer her three other characters from the series.
It’s been a few years since I re-watched Freak Show (longer since I re-watched Asylum), which may be why Elsa is at the bottom of the list.
When I think of Elsa, I think of someone who was taken advantage of. She loved her freaks so much, yet they were constantly taken away from her by outside forces. Jessica wasn’t the villain like she (arguably) usually is. This meant that she wasn’t the most powerful, and it just doesn’t sit right.
Elsa is a well developed character. Her backstory brings in an Asylum character, and the cross-over between seasons is always very fun. It’s dark but also very camp, which is what I live for in American Horror Story’s earlier seasons. She does some singing in her fake German accent. She puts on her baby blue suit. But I just couldn’t connect with Elsa as much as I’d have liked.
Maybe I’ll re-watch Freak Show soon and my opinion will change but, for now, Elsa is my number for. Sorry, Jessica.
3. Sister Jude – Asylum (Season 2)
Unpopular opinion: Asylum isn’t the best season of American Horror Story. In fact, it’s one of my least favourites. So, with that out of the way…
After Elsa Mars, the top three Jessica Lange characters are very difficult to rank – even with my dislike for Asylum.
Jessica was back playing a villain. She really was a nightmare. The historical setting of the show saw her enforcing barbaric punishments on lesbian Lana Winters, played by Sarah Paulson. Sister Jude was the HBIC – and she made sure everyone knew it. Even Sister Mary Eunice (Lily Rabe) being possessed by the literal devil couldn’t knock her off her twisted throne.
But she redeemed herself, though it took her being admitted as a patient at Briarcliff. With the show now on the other foot and the power out of her control, she becomes half the person she is throughout the rest of the season. Despite the layers to the character, this is why Sister Jude is my number three.
2. Constance Langdon – Murder House (Season 1)
I’m re-watching Murder House and Coven (Season 3) ahead of Apocalypse, as it will be a crossover of both of them. This has reminded me just how brilliant Murder House is, and why I became such a fan of American Horror Story to begin with. Most of the reason lay with Jessica Lange’s portrayal of Constance Langdon.
It’s difficult to say whether Constance is an antagonist or not. She’s not necessarily out to get the Harmons, but she’s also not particularly bothered if they die.
She loves her kids, even if they didn’t turn out exactly how she had planned. Constance’s relationship with Addie (Jamie Brewer) is one of the most touching yet upsetting threads to Murder House. Constance practically bullies her own daughter, but the despair in her voice when Addie dies – and her ghost isn’t trapped inside Murder House – shows Constance is far deeper than first glance suggests.
Constance is undoubtedly the Queen of Murder House – and she doesn’t even live there. She doesn’t even cause most of the terrible things that happen to the Harmons, but she ends up on the throne in the finale. But even then, with grandson Michael, aka the Antichrist, in the picture, Constance ends up not quite in control.
I’m excited that Constance will be returning for Apocalypse and that Cody Fern (of The Assassination of Gianni Versace fame) will be playing the adult Antichrist.
1. Fiona Goode – Coven (Season 3)
Duh. Coven is my favourite season of American Horror Story. I have re-watched it countless times. I will never, ever get bored of it. The bitchiness, the darkness, the super powers, Emma Roberts.
Coven being my favourite season doesn’t automatically make Fiona my favourite Jessica Lange character though. But she is, anyway.
Fiona is the most best sort of villain. At times – quite regularly, actually – I identify and empathise with her. She’s afraid of her looks fading, her youth slipping away, and ending up alone. She wants the power and she wants to keep hold of it, no matter what.
She’s feared and respected by everyone around her. She’s not afraid of taking out anyone who stands in her way (sorry Madison). She’s the sort of mother nobody would be lucky to – until Cordelia (Sarah Paulson) is targeted, of course.
In short, Fiona is exactly how I imagine a real Supreme of a Coven to be. Cut-throat, powerful, cunning and sly, caring when she needs to protect her girls, but out for herself.
Even when her power is drained and she dies, Fiona is still an incredible character. How Jessica Lange can portray so much emotion in two words – “knotty pine?!” – is beyond me.
So with all of that (and more) in mind, Fiona Goode is the only person I can put at the top of my Jessica Lange List.
(Subject to change, but probably never will. Soz.)