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For 13 years now, American Horror Story has provided horror lovers with various thrills and chills. With 12 seasons and another already on its way, the series has continued to reinvent itself, with a new unique story every time it returns to our screens. For the first time in American Horror Story’s history, there was a change to the structure of how the season was developed. Instead of an original story from the minds of creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk, the twelfth season was an adaptation of a book, Delicate Conditions by Danielle Valentine, aptly titled American Horror Story: Delicate.

Unlike most seasons that predated it as well, except for the 10th season, American Horror Story: Delicate was divided into two parts, with the initial five episodes arriving last Fall on FX and Hulu. Finally, part 2 has arrived, with the final four episodes, bringing us to the conclusion of Anna Alcott’s (Emma Roberts) journey to have it all. But in American Horror Story: Delicate Part 2, the question remains, is Anna experiencing psychosis, or is there something sinister afoot? 

There’s so much to discuss about how this season concluded, with some aspects fantastic while others left me scratching my head. For one important aspect, I think that American Horror Story: Delicate might be the most important season to date. So without further ado, let’s talk about the latest entry in the AHS franchise and what struck me about its message.

[Warning: topics of women’s health care and sexual assault are discussed in this article. Spoilers from American Horror Story: Delicate are below!]

Anna Victoria Alcott finally gets some answers in FX’s AHS: Delicate Part 2

Throughout the 9-episode season, viewers were left wondering about the psyche of Emma Robert’s Anna Victoria Alcott. When we meet her at the beginning of the season, she’s an actress seeking the most coveted of prizes among her peers, an Oscar in recognition of her work. But Anna also wants something else, a child with her husband Dex (Matt Czuchry). These goals seem incredibly unattainable, even though she’s putting forth effort in both parts of her life.

Concerning her acting career, Anna is seeking validation for her role of The Auteur, with the help of Siobhan (Kim Kardashian), the former’s publicist. Where Anna is anxious, Siobhan is cold and calculated, making them the perfect team to achieve any career goals that Anna may have. If this were all Anna had to worry about, life might just be easy, but this is American Horror Story. Around the time that Anna discovered she’s pregnant, things took a turn for the weird.

It’s from that point on that it’s unclear what is truly going on, as American Horror Story: Delicate dances on the line between psychological thriller and something supernatural. There’s something after Anna, thought it remains unclear if it’s to protect her or hurt her.

Is it a human who’s breaking into her house and haunting her, or is there something demonic afoot? Anna’s determined to get to the bottom of this, but what she doesn’t count on is how no one seems to believe her. Her pleas for help fall on deaf ears, with everyone writing off her behavior as hysterical, due to the stress of the pending Oscars and being pregnant.

In the end, the threat against Anna and her baby isn’t human per se, but supernatural in nature. Witches are to blame for her troubles, as they need her baby, with a coven that spans centuries and plans that are more nefarious than altruistic, no matter how they spin it. Can Anna save herself and her baby, or is she destined for doom?

Book Review: Delicate Condition by Danielle Valentine

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Women’s mental health is at the core of American Horror Story: Delicate

While some may argue that the season didn’t stick the landing (I being one of them), this season of American Horror Story is important because of the topic that it chose to discuss. Every season has a theme, for the earlier seasons, fans believed each one was based on a different ring of Hell. The theme at the center of Delicate is a problem that so many women around the globe face daily — not being believed when they say something regarding their health or safety.

There have been too many times of women in my life, both personal and professional, relaying stories about doctors and authorities not believing them when they speak. “I told my doctor there’s something wrong, and they told me to drink more water and lose weight”, or “I reported my assault to the police, but they didn’t seem to take me seriously,” are two real-world examples from the past few weeks alone. The structure of our society downplays and dismisses anyone who isn’t a cis-gendered white man, leaving women and minorities disenfranchised from the securities provided to the majority.

This societal problem plays into both the antagonist and protagonist’s journey in Delicate, showing two sides to the same coin. The audience witnesses the gaslighting of Anna from everyone around her, making her question if she’s losing her mind or if something is truly wrong. There isn’t anyone in her entire life who hears what she’s saying and attempts to help her constructively. Instead, each one rolls their eyes or writes it off. It’s tough to watch, but it’s supposed to be, as this is the reality for so many, and we have to draw attention to the problem where we can. 

American Horror Story: Delicate- Emma and Kim
Anna (Emma Roberts) and Siobhan (Kim Kardashian). American Horror Story: Delicate (FX).

The witches, on the other hand, have created a plan that inevitability changes this societal problem in their favor. They’ve spent years and lifetimes in Anna’s shoes and decided no more. Instead, they’ve decided to enact their plan for global control, through genetic manipulation and making the perfect specimens of human to do their bidding. Their ideology resembles the Germans in WWII, although by breeding humans with superpowers. While this isn’t the correct way to solve the societal problem, Delicate does an impressive job of showing how the coven got to their conclusions. It’s not unheard of in the psychological world that we see people react in the extreme when they feel cornered or a loss of control. 

This season provided two clear perspectives on the societal issues women face, which makes it one of the most important seasons of the series to date. Any time that we can highlight a deficiency in our world is a good thing. It means that with more people thinking about it, perhaps a solution can come sooner rather than later. Ultimately, American Horror Story: Delicate put a spotlight on why it’s important to believe those in our lives about something as their health and safety, instead of treating them like they’re crazy. 

Stellar performances but a rushed ending in this adaptation of the novel Delicate Conditions

I’m not going to lie and say I wasn’t slightly worried about the structure and pacing of this particular season, as I have been with all shows and films that were impacted by the strikes. If anyone can remember the last major strike we had in the film industry, some shows were some impacted, that they never truly recovered. Thankfully, American Horror Story: Delicate isn’t so impacted that it isn’t watchable, but it does have its problems, which become more apparent as the season gets closer to its conclusion.

As the season progressed, the time of each episode got significantly shorter, with the last one being just over half an hour instead of the standard 42-45 minutes. As a result, the story began to feel rushed, with things happening quicker than in some of the earlier episodes. It felt like the show began jumping to conclusions and expected the viewers to easily keep up. There were some moments when I had to pause the show and think about what I just witnessed to make sure I had it correct in my head.

The final episode itself felt severely underdeveloped, with the big reveal and master plan of the witches falling flat instead of having the impact that the writers would have wanted. I later discussed this with Luna Gauthier who reviewed the novel for the site, and she didn’t understand the major changes from the source material. That being said, I did like that Delicate ended on an optimistic note, which is not something we tend to get in AHS’ of the past.

Regardless of the rushed ending or underwhelming conclusion, those in the series did an outstanding job with the material they were given. I remained surprised by the acting of Kim Kardashian, who did a fine job as Siobhan. There were times that I questioned her casting, but she fit the role rather perfectly and gave it her all.

Emma Roberts was also fantastic as Anna, carrying the weight of the season on her shoulders. There was a period where Roberts became typecast as the mean girl role, but Anna definitely helps set her aside from that and showcases her range in this profession.

Any show I can see Michaela Jaé Rodriguez is a win in my book, as she is amazing in every single performance she gives. Seriously, if you haven’t seen her before, you need to, as she’s truly a talent unto her own.

American Horror Story: Delicate is still worth watching

If you haven’t caught up on the season now is the perfect time to do so. Even though I didn’t care for the ending, the season itself discusses important topics and has some great performances, making it one of the better seasons from the franchise. If you’re just a casual horror lover or a long-standing fan of the series, you’ll definitely want to see how American Horror Story: Delicate reaches its conclusion.

American Horror Story: Delicate is now streaming on Hulu. Have you watched it yet? What did you think of the season? Let us know on social media @mycosmiccircus or in The Cosmic Circus Discord.

Review: American Horror Story: Delicate Part 1 Season Premiere

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Brian Kitson

Working hard to bring you the latest news and thoughtful analysis of all things nerdy!

Brian Kitson has 379 posts and counting. See all posts by Brian Kitson