American Horror Story: Delicate Continues to Explore a Peculiar Subplot That Persists After 12 Years

American Horror Story season 12 returns to one persistent theme that the series can’t stop revisiting, even though it is a divisive, tricky topic.

Kim Kardashian in American Horror Story season 12 teaser-2

While American Horror Story season 12 will be revisiting one of the show’s most frequently seen themes, this is not necessarily a good thing. Pregnancy can be scary. While bringing life into the world is a beautiful thing, it is also an inherently messy, stressful, and occasionally terrifying process that every individual handles differently. From The Exorcist to We Need To Talk About Kevin, many movies and novels explore the potential horrors of parenthood. However, many classic horror stories go back even further to focus on pregnancy itself, from director David Cronenberg’s The Brood to 1974’s It’s Alive, to 1968’s iconic adaptation Rosemary’s Baby.

As such, it was not necessarily a major shock when American Horror Story season 12’s story was announced. Based on the novel Delicate Condition by Danielle Valentine, Delicate will tell the story of a pregnant actor plagued by a dark, malevolent force. Kim Kardashian’s casting in American Horror Story season 12 was a bigger surprise than the story of the season since the horror genre has regularly revisited the subject of pregnancy for decades. However, this particular horror anthology series has a terrible tendency to mishandle the potentially triggering topic, as evidenced by a look back at earlier seasons of American Horror Story.

Delicate Continues American Horror Story’s 12-Year Supernatural Pregnancy Trend

Kim Kardashian holding a baby in American Horror Story teaser

With the exception of Freak ShowRoanoke, and 1984, nearly every season of American Horror Story involved a subplot with pregnancies or babies that were connected to something supernatural. There was Michael Langdon as the Antichrist baby, Alma & Grace’s babies in Asylum, the alien babies in Death Valley, and many more. Now, Delicate‘s story is completely centered around pregnancies. This is the first time that the sinister/supernatural pregnancy is the main focus of the entire season rather than a subplot. Thus, American Horror Story season 12’s teased story could be overly familiar for longtime viewers. Paradoxically, the plot also runs the risk of courting too much controversy.

Since these earlier subplots were at least only one of the season’s many stories, they were not too intensely off-putting. However, if Murder House had focused entirely on the question of whether to raise Michael Langdon or not, the season would have been a lot bleaker. Similarly, if there were no serial killers, zombies, alien abductions, and possessed nuns to distract from the story of Alma and Grace’s babies, Asylum would have been a much grimmer slog. These busy outings wisely steered clear of their pregnancy subplots for entire episodes at a time. In contrast, American Horror Story: Delicate’s pregnancy plot is the primary story of season 12.

Delicate Makes AHS’s Pregnancy Obsession Its Main Focus

Emma Roberts in American Horror Story: Delicate Promo Poster

Pregnancy horror is tough to get right. The topics of pregnancy, fertility, and childbirth are complex, emotionally charged subjects, and the campy, often gruesome lens of the horror anthology show could easily struggle to handle these stories with care. For every classic like Ira Levin’s aforementioned novel Rosemary Baby and its movie adaptation, there are many flops like 2021’s False Positive, 2016’s Visions, 2023’s Baby Ruby, 2023’s Unwelcome, and 2022’s Bed Rest. All of these movies attempted to turn pregnancy into the compelling center of a horror story, but all of them fell flat with critics as they failed to find the right tonal balance.

American Horror Story Season 12’s Pregnancy Focus Is A Huge Risk

American Horror Story Murder House Rosemary's Baby

Casting Kardashian in American Horror Story: Delicate was already a pretty major risk for season 12, but focusing the entire story of the season on a topic as divisive and contentious as pregnancy is just looking for trouble. American Horror Story is typically a series that approaches sensitive topics such as addiction, abuse, assault, and trauma with the subtlety of a sledgehammer. As such, season 12 delving deep into a theme that almost no recent horror movies have successfully tackled is a massive gamble, and NYC’s weak handling of the AIDS epidemic subplot doesn’t give viewers much reason to assume that Delicate will be a surprising success.

Many of American Horror Story’s pregnancy storylines in the past have been pretty controversial, and a lot of them were pivotal parts of highly divisive seasons, so making this the primary focus of Delicate is a big risk for the show. The last thing that American Horror Story season 12 needs is another reason for viewers to feel put off the series, as its critical decline in recent years has already made the show less appealing to casual viewers. If American Horror Story manages to remake Rosemary’s Baby in its latest outing, the show might be able to succeed. However, pregnancy horror remains a risky American Horror Story theme.

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