'American Horror Story' Black Dahlia Episode Went Too Far


American Horror Story isn't a show that is known for pulling punches, and the "Spooky Little Girl" episode featuring The Black Dahlia murder victim was no different. The show has had rapes, murders, stabbings, school shootings, and homophobic attacks, half of which all happened in the same episode. But bringing a real murder into the house and fictionalizing it seems like going a bit too far.

The Black Dahlia remains one of Los Angeles' most notorious unsolved mystery cases. The mutilated corpse of 22-year-old Elizabeth Short was found in LA by a young mother back in 1947. She was a beautiful actress from Massachusetts who was trying to make it in Hollywood, but instead met a gruesome end. The story is tragic and so, so sad, and yet, because of her looks, it was sensationalized, made front page news, and spawned 1,000 rumors.

The truth about who Short was isn't clear. Some say she was an escort. Some say she had deformed genitalia and couldn't even perform sexually. Still others say she was neither of those things and was engaged to be married. What is clear is that she wasn't as she was portrayed by Mena Suvari on American Horror Story. **Spoilers ahead**

On the show she was sweet and somewhat naive, but she was also seductive and clearly using her sexuality to charm men. It's intriguing to use such a notorious real case on the show, but the fact is, Short was likely not accidentally killed and the person who chopped her up, drained her blood, and mutilated her face wasn't a slightly drugged out ghost, but a very real, very disturbed person.

Just because something was 70 years ago doesn't make it any less terrifying and tragic. It's one thing to be fascinated by the case, but it's another to openly accuse someone who was once very much alive of basically being a prostitute. It just feels exploitative.

The show has been doing just fine on its own. It didn't need a real murder to add spice.

In fact, with a few tweaks, they could have even fictionalized her a little and made it seem like real life (as they did with the nurse murders that bore a striking resemblance to the Richard Speck killings in 1966). It just seems like poor taste.

I love the show and will be back again next Wednesday, but I hope this isn't a pattern that is emerging because the show has nowhere else to go. This show is creative enough on its own. It doesn't need to go there.

Do you think it was poor taste?


Image via FX Networks


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nonmember avatar jimpy

The Black Dahlia murder has certainly passed into folklore status. And, after nearly 65 years, anyone directly connected to that tragedy is long dead. The portrayal of Beth Short was actually done somewhat carefully in that it reflected much about what little is known about her in history. It is also good that we don't forget her and sad end to her life. Ironic and morbid as it may be, she is ultimately far more famous and enduring than she probably ever would have been otherwise. And the fact that she survives alive and well as a fictional representation of herself as an aspiring actress seems very appropriate. I think Elizabeth Short would approve.

Christina Tracy

Everything that has happened on that show has happened in real life. They change names, certain methods, and often means of how it happened - but everything in that show as far as the killing has gone resembles a case somewhere. If anything, i bet many younger people who hadnt heard of the black dahlia murder were intrigued and probably googled it up. In any case, this would bring people who hadnt known about the case to a new understanding of it. And those that don't know the truth - well, as you said, it happened 70 years ago. The one or ones responsible are long gone. It was sad.. but there's a lot more to focus on in our faces right now than a case from so long ago. and to say it went "too far" is a bit much. Its a show, as a means of entertaining. I was impressed to see the mention of the Black Dahlia. I knew the background of the case and didnt find it poor taste for them to bring it back to the spotlight. Even if for some it wasnt correct

Jai Hutto

Oh...NOW it's gone too far? Have you watched the previous 8 episodes? It stared out going to far, but my sick ass can't help but watch! lol I won't say it's an awesome show, more like a train wreck that I just can't help but stare at.

nonmember avatar M

I love AHS! No, I don't think they went too far. In fact, they should do more UNSOLVED cases in the show. Maybe it'll re-open a few cold cases...including the Jon Benet unsolved mystery. Poor baby! She and many others deserve justice.

nonmember avatar Emily

Are we supposed to be horribly offended about every ridiculous Jack the Ripper movie, too?

Jenna Chattin

Almost every major murder depicted is based on a real murder, incident, or legend. It's nothing new. In Halloween, Part 1, one of Tate's victims said he asked her if she believed in God, and she said yes and he shot her. That happened between one of the students at Colombine and one of the shooters. Home Invasion's plot line was based on Richard Speck. Constance's disfigured son in the attack resembles the story of the Leeds' boy in the legend of the Jersey Devil...they've been "going to far" all along; which is one of the reasons people keep watching.

Rachel Madalyn

I think that you're right about going too far. I mean, to reference the murder is one thing, but the way they portrayed her was in poor taste.

nonmember avatar Kellia

I have been watching the show each week, and even though this is a bit far, I still look at is as a show, there are so many other things in this world to ponder over besides a show that is fiction and doesn't need to be taken too seriously. It's just a show where these actors and actresses work to make money and pay their bills just like we do. Hopefully this doesn't seem too harsh and I do apologize in advanced if it does. I just think people read too much into Television It is entertainment.

nonmember avatar Maxie

Appreciate your opinion, but I don't think it went too far.
In fact, watching the episode caused me to go online to research the actual case to learn more about. Found your blog while googling the actual case and had to comment.
In the end, remember - AHS is a TV show.
If you don't like it or are offended, it's easy to simply change the channel.
It's called "American HORROR Story".

nonmember avatar Ariel

The Black Dahlia being encluded just added to the series. who cares if it was a real case? So was the columbine shootings. People need to calm down, this show is amazing.

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