By ARIELLE CRUZ
Everyone needs a role model. Someone who appears to live life the way you want to be living it. Some human-shaped glimmer of hope that there is a way to do life right, and that every fuck up you make isn’t an indicator that being who you want to be is impossible. Someone did it, after all.
In a Bob’s Burgers episode, the baseball one, Bob says that one of the players is his role model. Then everyone proceeds to tell Bob that he can’t be his role model because you can’t have a role model that is the same age as you. I laughed a little, because it’s kind of true. However now, at a ripe 21 years old, the age gap between me and some of the people I look up to is closing. There’s a 22 year-old lady who ditched school to create some amazing medical science wonder-product that I can’t pronounce; there’s Malala; Pete Davidson, that new guy on Saturday Night Live is 20, Lena Dunham is 28, the Broad City women are 26 and 29, Aubrey Plaza is 29, and, well, you get it. My not-yet-really-existent life is flashing before my eyes. And yes, I do know how crazy that sounds.
So this week is honoring some role model-level people who don’t wig me out this week as my housemates get jobs and run to the city for interviews and I drink beer and avoid schoolwork. I’m talking over 50 years old, the real wise stuff. And, since it is also Halloween week, and the show is rife with badass older women, lets talk about the women of American Horror Story. Life lessons to be learned: Age makes things better. In the words of Billy Eichner (36), and away … we … go:
Jessica Lange (65) (Constance, Sister Jude, Fiona, Elsa): This woman is the definition of badass. Her characters have owned lines like, “Let me give you fair warning: I’ll always win against the patriarchal male,” “In this whole wide wicked world, the only thing you have to be afraid of, is me” and have thrown a whole lot of shade. When she was in her twenties, Lange dropped out of college, went to France, studied mime, came back, studied acting and pretty much lived the ultimate bohemian life. She has a tattoo on her hip to prove it. She is an accomplished photographer, she hand-tinted pictures for a children’s book that she wrote for her granddaughters and then published, she is a mother of three, has won Oscars and Emmys and Golden Globes and almost everything you can think of for her work and is, nowadays, a very well respected actress. She was recently chosen to be the face of Marc Jacobs. However, until American Horror Story, Lange wasn’t a household name. She only recently started getting recognized on the street. That is bonkers. She was pretty much the only woman in the ’70s version of King Kong, she was in Tootsie, Francis, Country, HBO’s Grey Gardens. Lange is a badass, a strong woman, a talented woman and someone who does whatever she wants and thinks is best for her and her family. What else can you really ask for?
Angela Bassett (56): Bassett played a voodoo queen in season three of American Horror Story and plays a hermaphrodite with three breasts in season four. In season three she was Lange’s biggest frenemy (which is hard to accomplish, you know, being on Jessica Lange’s level). When someone first told me she was 56 I didn’t believe them. We had to pause the show and do a rapid Google search confirmation. She was in How Stella Got Her Groove Back, Akeelah and the Bee and won a Golden Globe for her work in What’s Love Got to Do With It?. She was almost cast in Halle Berry’s role in Monster’s Ball (the one that earned her an Oscar) and turned it down, because, you know, too badass.
Kathy Bates (66): What can you really say about Kathy Bates. Her Twitter description reads: “My life in balance: Do no harm. Take no shit.” She was in Misery, Fried Green Tomatoes, About Schmidt, Titanic and more and she is just plain awesome. She is friends with Jessica Lange (somehow we always get back here) and overcame cancer and a double mastectomy. You don’t fuck with Kathy Bates.
Frances Conroy (60): Best known for her work on Six Feet Under, Conroy is also an accomplished theater actress who became friends with Arthur Miller in the ’90s (casual). Conroy, though never exactly the lead in AHS is always wily, always in the know and someone you definitely want on your side. She almost wasn’t on AHS because of another show (Bad Mom) but it didn’t get picked up (thank heavens).
Patti Labelle (70): This is a bonus. Labelle plays Dora, a maid, in AHS’ season four. In the last episode she dared the psychotic son of the house to kill her (he didn’t), earning our instant respect. Labelle is best known as a singer. She is the one behind “Lady Marmalade” and “On My Own,” and she is on the list of Rolling Stones’ 100 Best Singers. Ever. She is referred to as the Godmother of Soul. After Dora’s performance last week, I can’t wait to see what’s next.
The number of women, especially older women on this show, just casually killing it every day (Kathy Bates’ Baltimore accent excluded), is like a coven of the best kind, of interesting, accomplished, smart, successful older women. And lets be real if Kathy Bates and Ilana from Broad City got in a fight, Kathy Bates would win.