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The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Facing the Consequences of a ‘Facelift’: Episode 6 of ‘American Horror Stories’ Season 2

The newest installment of “American Horror Stories” demonstrates the lengths people will go to maintain their youth, bringing to the table one of the most chilling episodes this season.
The opening screen for “Facelift” which streams on Hulu. (Photo courtesy of FX)

Botox. Lip filler. Liposuction. Nose jobs. The list goes on and on. In this age of constant comparison, the desire to appear young and aesthetically pleasing permeates all facets of society through TV, social media, magazines etc. With plastic surgery being such a “real” thing in our lives, “Facelift’s” premise doesn’t feel too far-fetched or like it’s going to unfold into a concerning tale. 

“Facelift,” the sixth episode of the second season of “American Horror Stories”, focuses on Virginia Mellon (Judith Light), an older woman dead-set on ironing out her wrinkles and maintaining what she sees as her desirability. While waiting for a man she’s interested in at a local wine shop, Virginia runs into Cassie Brooks (Cornelia Guest), an old friend from college. Cassie, however, is totally unrecognizable, and is also dating the man Virginia is interested in. This double whammy of Cassie’s looks paired with her new beau drives Virginia to the edge; she self-consciously fiddles with her high-necked blouse, which covers her skin, irritated from her obsessive use of serums, lotions and salves.

Ultimately, Virginia receives Cassie’s plastic surgeon’s business card, a doctor by the name of Enid Perle (Rebecca Dayan). 

Dr. Perle is definitely not a normal plastic surgeon. She speaks in cryptic statements, seeming more like some sort of sorceress than a plastic surgeon. She tells Virginia that her procedures aren’t typical, and that she wants to bring a vision to life and that she must “ruin the graffiti” that the universe has placed on the skin. 

The procedure, of course, is not cheap–but on the other hand, can’t pretty privilege get you anywhere?

Virginia’s desperation for Dr. Perle’s services put me on edge as I watched. Judith Light does a great job of making her character’s desire for change and beauty incredibly palpable and even stressful to watch. However, amid this desperation, you can’t like Virginia–her vanity is so consuming that she puts her procedures ahead of her daughter’s law school tuition, severing all connections to her reality for some smoother skin.

While the end of the episode embodies genuine horror and gore, I think the entire premise of the episode “scares” so well because all of us are a little vain inside. We all have parts about ourselves that we would probably change if given the chance, but taking the gamble and trusting certain doctors to reconstruct your features is daunting. “Facelift” gives us the suspense of waiting for Virginia’s final results throughout the program, causing us to wonder what will happen if the surgery is botched? Will life be even more miserable?

“Facelift” ends in the most unexpected of ways, of course, and it’s one of the only episodes from this season where I didn’t totally feel like I knew where the creators were going to take it. Written by Manny Coto and directed by Marcus Stokes, having some new creators on the scene enabled the episode to have a fresher feel, being less formulaic and predictable than some of its predecessors.

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About the Contributor
Blythe Bouza
Blythe Bouza, Deputy Life Editor
Blythe Bouza (‘25) is from New Orleans, La., and is double majoring in communication of science and technology and English with a minor in theater. When not writing and editing for The Hustler, you can find her waiting in line for coffee, making niche Spotify playlists or talking about Bret Easton Ellis. You can reach her at [email protected].
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1 year ago

I only watched because I love Judith Light, but she can’t be that hard up for work!