American Horror Stories takes on the idea of perfection and beauty in “Facelift”

American Horror Stories season 2, AHS - Key Art. CR: FX
American Horror Stories season 2, AHS - Key Art. CR: FX /

Over the years, Hollywood has given many people unrealistic expectations of what beauty really is. And American Horror Stories takes on that theme in the second season episode, “Facelift.”

In this American Horror Stories episode, we have Judith Light, who plays an older woman named Virginia. She wakes and instantly starts in on a beauty regimen that includes actually using fresh urine on her face to try to counteract the effects of aging. Her vanity is loaded with all of the creams, notions, and potions we would expect from someone trying to fight off the signs of age that we must all contend with.

It doesn’t take much to relate to that struggle as women, because there are so many of us who hate the idea of getting old. There are many women who turn to creams, lifts, makeup, and anything else we can use to look “beautiful.”

However, in this case, there is something more sinister involved in Virginia’s efforts to be young and beautiful again. While it may not have started as anything beyond a woman trying to recapture her youth, once she meets with a woman who promises her the chance to be transformed, it sets her on the path to the unthinkable.

American Horror Stories takes on the struggle with aging and beauty in “Facelift”

From being willing to pay any price to actually telling her daughter (who is in fact her step-daughter) that she isn’t her real mom on multiple occasions, the lengths that Virginia is willing to go to in order to be beautiful are grotesque.

But what truly happens is that she becomes a sacrifice for others to stay beautiful. And what does that mean? It means that instead of being transformed into the beautiful woman that she wants to be, the “doctor” she visits instead transforms her into something else. In fact, her new face is more in line with what one might expect from a pig, and even her hands have been changed.

The reason for this? Because they want to sacrifice her in order for their own beauty. They have planned a hunt to kill Virginia in order for the doctor and her followers to remain beautiful.

But perhaps the biggest reveal of all is that once they take down (kill) Virginia, we learn the truth about her daughter and her connection to this weird cult of beautiful people. It seems that her birth mother was one of the “beautiful people.” And it is time for the daughter to take her place amongst them.

In the end, it is clear that she does just that. Shedding her “ugly” appearance and embracing her true beauty. (There is even a butterfly tattoo involved for all those who are part of the beautiful people.)

Honestly, this didn’t feel like a story we would expect from American Horror Stories (or American Horror Story), and yet somehow it works. It works because for a lot of people getting older is horror on its own. Not because we don’t want to get older, but rather because we still want to be beautiful while we do it.

This was a personal horror story if nothing else. And that is good enough for an anthology series about all the many ways horror can impact a person.

What did you think of American Horror Stories’ “Facelift?” Were you a fan?

Next. American Horror Stories gives us a fresh take on “Bloody Mary”. dark