Celebrating Women In Horror: Sarah Paulson

Next up in our articles celebrating Women In Horror Month is Seema Chohan’s tribute to Sarah Paulson — star of American Horror Story.

For women in horror month I have decided to pay tribute to my American Horror Story girl crush, Sarah Paulson. One of the few cast members to appear in all seven seasons, Sarah Paulson’s characters are fierce, cool and sassy. She is highly versatile and her characters never fail to entice, not to mention she is EXTREMELY easy on the eyes.

Season One – Murder House

In season one we see Paulson play the role of  Billie Dean Howard, a craigslist medium who is hired by Constance (Jessica Lange) to help Violet understand that her boyfriend is a ghost who needs help passing on to the other side.

Additionally, it is Billie Dean who informs Constance that a child conceived by a human mother and ghost father will be the anti-Christ and bring on the end of times. Although a supporting character, Paulson is effortlessly cool and steals the screen from Lange — which is no easy feat.

Season Two – Asylum

Season two sees Sarah Paulson take on one of the lead roles portraying Lana Winters, a go getting journalist keen on scoring her big break. Winters visits the mental institution Briarcliff to report on the institutes bakery facility for inmates, however this is just a cover up and she is actually looking to get the low down on ‘Bloody Face’. It is not long before Winters becomes a prisoner to Briarcliff, and nastiness starts to go down…

Paulson’s depiction of Winters is awesome and there were points throughout the season where I could truly feel her desperation and despair.

Season Three – Coven

In season three, Paulson is Cordelia Foxx, headmistress of Miss Robichaux’s Academy in New Orleans. She cares greatly for her students and does everything in her power to keep them safe despite building tensions from within and outside of the school.

Cordelia Foxx is a gentle character and very easy to warm to, despite being perhaps one of my less-favoured Sarah Paulson characters. But her season finale outcome was genuinely pleasing.

Season Four – Freakshow

In season four, we see Paulson take on two roles in one. These are Bette and Dot Tattler, conjoined twins who share everything from the neck down. Their personalities differ drastically with Bette coming across as kind, sweet and naive, and Dot being depicted as strong, stern, and cautious of everything and everyone.

I loved Freakshow and Paulson playing literally double the characters was an added bonus to the season.

Season Five – Hotel

After the initial shock of seeing Lady Gaga acting, and having to come to terms with Jessica Lange’s departure from the show, it was surprising when I realised Hotel had become my favourite season. A large part of why I like Hotel so much is Sarah Paulson’s character Hypodermic Sally.

Sally is a ghost junkie who resides at the Hotel Cortez. She spends her time looking for affection and chain smoking and usually has fresh tears on her face. Her tragic back story is beyond depressing and I have no shame in admitting that I did not want this series to end.

Season Six – Roanoke

In season six Paulson stars as Audrey Tindall, a British actress who plays Shelby Miller in ‘My Roanoke Nightmare’.

Roanoke is really unique modern season. Audrey Tindall was pretty entertaining to watch and her romance with younger co-star Rory Monahan (Even Peters) made the whole reality show spin pretty believable. However, I would have liked Sarah Paulson to have been given a character with more depth!

Season Seven – Cult


In season seven we see Paulson depict Ally Mayfair Richards, a seemingly normal women who experiences anxiety and phobias so severe she must visit a psychiatrist for support.

I have not yet finished watching Cult but from what I have seen, it is apparent that Ally is no fan of Donald Trump, and anyone who doesn’t like Donald Trump scores brownie points in my book!

I am looking forward to watching more of Paulson in Cult and am also excited for season eights theme to be released…WHAT WILL IT BE?!?!? And in terms of her role as a ‘woman in horror’, I think Sarah Paulson is truly a modern icon, and deserves far more recognition for her roles in the show.

By Seema Chohan

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