American Horror Story: Delicate is back to do what AHS does best

American horror story: delicate clearly comes from different sources: it is based on Danielle Valentine’s book Sensitive conditionbut the first half is full of nods to Dead Ringers And Rosemary’s child. This is nothing new – through the good seasons, the bad seasons and (usually) the desperately uneven series, American horror story has withdrawn generously and chaotically from the horror genre. It’s a series that can be almost frighteningly unreliable. But even at the most unstable points, there is one thing that… AHS has always been able to rely on certain actresses to let their bizarre flags fly.

In this case, two artists serve as the series’ main creative outlets. In one corner we have franchise mainstay Emma Roberts, who plays Anna, a young actor who struggles with conceiving a child and ends up down a rabbit hole of conspiracy and satanic pacts. Roberts gets nothing as wickedly cheerful as, for example, her role as a witch AHS: Coven, but she’s up for anything, no matter how ridiculous – she approaches solemn scenes and scenes where she has to throw up a seemingly endless amount of black bile with the same enthusiasm. And Kim Kardashian plays the devil on her shoulder, the show’s symbolic bit of stunt casting this season, as her brash publicist Siobhan. It’s a role for which she has received solid notices, allowing Kardashian to fit into a long line of scene-chews AHS stars.

Since the show’s second season, AHS had given up the pretense of being a simple horror series. Instead, it’s best when it combines its gory free-for-all with obvious camp, bringing in actresses like Jessica Lange, Sarah Paulson, Kathy Bates, Angela Bassett, and Lily Rabe (among many others; AHS loves nothing more than finding a new, weird place for a returning performer) to go as hammy or mean as they want for multiple seasons. In the above CovenBates plays both an unrepentant racist serial killer and a comically hysterical severed head, an encapsulation of what AHS can allow. This is a good place for Kardashian, an actor who has never really been tested in a way that isn’t blandly self-referential.

Photo: Eric Liebowitz/FX

That’s not to say we can forget the name behind the character — few casting choices know more than having a Kardashian play a gross “You’ll be a star if you stay with me, baby” character on the top floor in a story about losing your soul (and your autonomy) in the entertainment industry. Kardashian and the AHS however, crew uses the franchise’s heavy-handed macabre satire to make it work beyond expectations.

You get the initial Hey, it’s Kim Kardashian! response, and then watch as Kardashian turns her familiar cultural status into dead-eyed malevolence. She serves as Anna’s best friend and cheerleader while also embracing a fun mirror of a #girlboss attitude, but every scene reeks of creepy insincerity. Whether or not this is true probably depends on how often one watches her constant reality TV offerings, but Kardashian’s Siobhan only seems to be pretending to be human.

Divided into two parts, the first half of AHS: Delicate ends with a cult-like presence seeking revenge and a deal with Satan that promises immense fame. All the while, Anna struggles with her attempts to conceive (and the outside forces that try to undermine and control her) and Siobhan provides her with a siren song of ultimate fame. Overall it’s quite slow compared to AHS‘ previous chaotic offerings, and much of the proceeds from Anna’s confusion appear to be reserved for the second half (which debuts in 2024).

But while this may be disappointing for those who prefer it AHS Since the seasons are a wild and woolly ride from start to finish, that’s a blessing for Kardashian. Instead of being treated like a novelty, she is given the opportunity to grow into monstrosity. And that allows her to sit comfortably among TV’s most consistently bizarre ensemble.

American horror story: delicate part 2 premieres Wednesday, April 3 at 10pm EDT/PDT on FX. New episodes drop every Wednesday and stream on Hulu the next day.