'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 Keila

All she wanted was to be famous. To make it to Hollywood. And now she has. I think she'd be happy to hear it

nonmember avatar Melody

I hope I don't end up like you when I get older. It's called American horror get it HORROR story for a reason. Every murder in the house has happened before they just spiced it up to make it SCARY that's the point dumb fuck. How can you love a show you can't even handle.

nonmember avatar ehfhgh

LOVE it when people read a critical blog and say something along the lines of,"Don't like it? Don't watch it." First of all, if you don't like what the blog has to say DON'T READ IT. Secondly, a critical review of the show does not necessarily mean someone doesn't like it as a whole or that it's bad. Chill. This show isn't your child.

To the last commenter? Just because it's a horror show doesn't mean it has to be the embodiment of all that's wrong with society in the worst of ways. One of the problems with the world is how much desensitization towards violence there is. I should be able to watch the portrayal of a real, graphic murder that ended a real woman's life in a horrific way and feel some stirrings of compassion--know what? I don't because I see it everywhere and it's become old news already. That in itself is messed up.

nonmember avatar Bernard Profite

come down off that high horse and get over yourself, sister! you're fake indignation is laughable!

the "boy dahlia" storyline was very creative

... and, for the record, the nurses getting killed in the house had about as much parallel to the details of the Speck murders as an episode of General Hospital - yeah, there are nurses in both - BFD.

nonmember avatar Hope

So it's ok to address hot-topic issues as long as you don't use the likenesses of real people? That doesn't make sense. And I think they did fictionalize it. No one knows what really happened to her and they offered a fictional explanation through the show. Obviously we all know that's probably not what happened to her. But there's no need to get your panties in a twist over historical "inaccuracy".

The scary thing about american horror story is that it deals with very real issues that people COULD face. School shootings, homophobia, adultery, love, depression, miscarriage, etc. This is what makes the show so good. But any one of these things could reflect a situation in real life.

Personally, I love the fact that in the first season, and in the second and third, there has been a historical reference to a real person. It helps keep the time period believable and it's entertaining.

American Horror Story has this wonderful habit of combining real life and fantasy. I think it's great. If I wanted a show completely fantasized, I would watch Twilight.

Cheyenne Ingersoll

Umm just saying if you do extensive research on the case of the black dahlia, which I have, you will see that many speculated that she was a prostitute due to her staying in a hotel which was well known for pretty young women having sex with the owner in order for them to stay free of charge. Elizabeth Short was not a prostitute due to her sexual organs not developing properly, this was a very common speculation during the investigation of her murder. So with that said if the writers went "too far" by doing their research and learning about who Elizabeth short was said to be, then so did th police and surrounding people 70 years ago.

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