Congratulations, it's a Kardashian! "American Horror Story: Delicate" delivers a new scream queen

There's only one bundle of joy to coo over after the finale of "AHS: Delicate" Part 1 — and it isn't Emma Roberts

By Kelly McClure

Nights & Weekends Editor

Published October 19, 2023 2:31PM (EDT)

Kim Kardashian as Siobhan Corbyn in "American Horror Story: Delicate" (Eric Liebowitz/FX)
Kim Kardashian as Siobhan Corbyn in "American Horror Story: Delicate" (Eric Liebowitz/FX)

When it was first announced back in April that Kim Kardashian would be joining the twelfth ensemble of Ryan Murphy's "American Horror Story" ("AHS"), avid viewers of the buzzy FX series sat back and prepared to laugh. Myself included.

It turns out, the joke's on us. In her first big acting debut as a character other than an exaggerated version of herself, Kardashian has proven to be the most exciting thing to happen to this lackluster franchise in years. Any LOLs elicited by Kardashian thus far in "Delicate" — the current two-part season of "AHS" — are the result of the kind of natural comedic ability that comes from a lifetime of being criticized for not really knowing exactly what you're doing.

Deliver a punchline? Honey, she is the punchline. It's pure camp — and Kardashian is exactly Murphy's kind of girl. If these two have one thing in common, it's how to make money. If they have two things in common, it's that and being at the center of a teeth-gnashing spectacle.

After the finale of Part 1, now streaming on Hulu, we see full well how Kardashian was a good bet for this show, which has gone steadily downhill since previous season alumni Jessica LangeSarah Paulson and Evan Peters called it quits. In the years since, what has been a key missing ingredient? Star power.

When casting for "Delicate," which is based on the novel "Delicate Condition," written by Danielle Valentine — the rights for which were optioned by Murphy before the thing was even released — the series creator was inspired to bring on Kardashian after being "impressed with her well-received" hosting gig on "Saturday Night Live" in 2021, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Kim Kardashian has proven to be the most exciting thing to happen to this franchise in years.

Call it stunt casting. (To that end, remember Lady Gaga on "AHS: Hotel"?) Call it divine intuition, or just call it a Hail Mary. Whatever the reason, Murphy saw enough in Kardashian in just one episode of "SNL" to hitch the scripted newbie to showrunner Halley Feiffer and tailor a role specifically for her. Indeed, Kardashian was a name big enough to float the boat in case Murphy's bet didn't pay off, but he struck gold here.

In the show, art imitates life, as Kardashian's role, a publicist named Siobhan Corbyn, has drawn comparisons to her own momager, Kris Jenner. Kardashian's Siobhan shares most of her scenes with Anna Victoria Alcott, played by Emma Roberts, who is one of the last of Murphy's still-standing mainstays, Emma Roberts. (For the record, I prefer to refer to her as Emma "Misgender" Roberts.) Oh, to have been a fly on the wall when Roberts heard about this casting choice!

One of many shakeups to this season — other than it's the first time the show has adapted a novel, as well as the first time it's been written and showrun by a single writer (Feiffer) — Kardashian's casting lends itself to this freshness in such a fun way where, really, the season as a whole doesn't even need to be good in order to be a success. That's good news for Murphy, because it isn't.

American Horror Story: DelicateKim Kardashian as Siobhan Corbyn and Emma Roberts as Anna Alcott in "American Horror Story: Delicate" (Eric Liebowitz/FX)What, exactly, is this season even about? Literally, the hell if I know — and I've watched every episode thus far. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Valentine described the book that the series is based on as "essentially a horror novel about pregnancy," going on to say that she was more inspired by "Alien" than "Rosemary's Baby," which both the book and the season are compared to most often.

Yadda yadda, spooky baby. Yadda yadda, Roberts as Anna, a starlet struggling to conceive a child using IVF. "AHS" alum Denis O'Hare is there in the background as Dr. Andrew Hill, "assisting" with the treatments and doing his enjoyably creepy thing. Cara Delevingne is somewhere over there, a Hot Topic nightmare. Take it or leave it.

Just hear me when I say it would all be truly stale without Kardashian in her role as Siobhan, whose first line in the season's first episode is, “Tell the Daniels to suck my cl*t,” delivered while yelling into the phone on behalf of her client, Anna.

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Let's be real: "American Horror Story" stopped leaning on good writing with a tight plot after its third season, "Coven," which ended in 2014. The well has run dry, and if you doubt that, ask yourself why Murphy apparently has taken to cold-calling book agents for material to harvest.

Those still watching aren't doing so for the quality, they're doing so for the mess of it all, which Kardashian replenished the supply of when she crossed picket lines at the start of filming, all but waving highlighted call sheets and loose cash out the tinted windows of her chauffeured SUV calling out, "Tralatrala, where's craft services?"

Is Kardashian the hero of this season? Is she the villain? It doesn't matter. Either way, her hands are clean.

Part 1 of "American Horror Story: Delicate" is now streaming on Hulu.

By Kelly McClure

Kelly McClure is Salon's Nights and Weekends Editor covering daily news, politics and culture. Her work has been featured in Vulture, The A.V. Club, Vanity Fair, Cosmopolitan, Nylon, Vice, and elsewhere. She is the author of Something is Always Happening Somewhere.

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American Horror Story American Horror Story: Delicate Commentary Fx Horror Hulu Kim Kardashian Ryan Murphy Tv