American Horror Story, Freak Show – Season 4, Episode 5: “Pink Cupcakes”

Tighty Whities and the Duality of Dandy Mott

As per usual, there is no shortage of bothersome scenes in “Pink Cupcakes,” but it is Dandy’s antics that truly take the cake – or the cupcake, if you will. In spite of his many memorable moments, one cannot help but take note of Dandy’s prolonged, underwear-clad daily routine. Attention is intentionally drawn to the awkward undergarments, and the tighty whities speak volumes regarding Dandy’s demented personality.

Not to say that this choice in undies is always indicative of depravity. When Mat Fraser sported this stunning accessory last week, it clearly represented a moment of vulnerability for Paul the Illustrated Seal. Remember Edward Mordrake’s request (or maybe demand): “Now tell me all about your darkest hour.” Paul’s tale is genuine and raw; everything is exposed. Thus, in Paul’s case, the underwear is more about a naked display of candor than anything else. With Dandy, though, the tighty whities are blatantly indicative of extreme childishness and an emotional retardation.

This isn’t the first time that tighty whities have been used in such a symbolic nature in the television realm. Bryan Cranston has championed this type of underwear in two separate series: Malcolm in the Middle and Breaking Bad. In an interview with Melissa Locker of, Cranston brilliantly explains the significance of this wardrobe choice:

[blockquote source=”Bryan Cranston”]”I had to ask, why would a grown man wear boy’s underwear? Hal [of Malcolm in the Middle] wore them because he always wore them and it never occurred to him to wear anything else. He’s still a boy. Walter White [of Breaking Bad] wore them because he stopped growing. The underwear became indicative of Walter White’s stunted growth. He stopped caring. Hal wouldn’t think of wearing anything else. With Walt, it’s an ‘I don’t care’ thing. Too depressed to think about what I’m more comfortable wearing. He’s given up.”

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The “boy’s underwear” is representative of two different things for Cranston’s two different characters; when worn by Dandy, though, they relate two distinct yet related sides to one complicated character.

Dandy’s duality is on full display following the brutal murder of Dell’s boyfriend. He stands behind his mother, and there is a stunning juxtaposition of childhood innocence marred by a very adult misdeed as he and his white briefs are covered in blood. Dandy is a sociopathic child in an adult’s body. He has a child’s bedroom with toys, a constant need to be entertained, and a juvenile desire to become an actor. It is common knowledge that as children, serial killers often torment or kill small animals, and Dandy starts there as well (killing a neighborhood cat). However, he is not limited by the physique of a child, and he has a mother who will cover up any and all bad behavior, allowing him to quickly advance to the next step and kill Dora.

We also know that Dandy lacks any feelings when it comes to his actions. In his undie-clad monologue, he reveals that in spite of looking Dora in the eye while killing her, he felt nothing. One wonders if extreme brutality may elicit some emotion, though. Later in the episode, Dandy is dismembering Dell’s presumed-dead boyfriend, only to have the man waked up as his limbs are being hacked off. Dandy shouts, “Why aren’t you dead? You’re making me feel bad!” He does seem to be capable of emotion, but it apparently takes maximum barbarity for anything to emerge. Regardless, his behavior indicates that Dandy assuredly suffers from the “stunted growth” that Cranston references above. It is also worth mentioning that both men are in their tighty whities when the murder takes place, conveying the multiple meanings of the symbol simultaneously. The boyfriend is exposed, childlike in his naiveté and inability to grasp the gravity of his situation. Dandy is wearing Twisty’s mask, almost as if he is playing dress-up and thus immunizing himself against responsibility for such a deed. His mindset is immature, blissfully unaware that actions have consequences. Only when the boyfriend wakes up does Dandy seem to remotely comprehend what he has done.

Dandy represents a different sort of freak – the dangerous kind. Elsa’s Cabinet of Curiosities is largely composed of misunderstood individuals. Her “freaks” suffer from physical deformities that are beyond their control, yet result in constant stares and judgment. But Freak Show is really about the veiled freaks, those who are attractive on the outside, but are internally deranged (it seems that Elsa herself may belong in this category). Mental development halted at some point for these freaks, and when stripped down to what they really are, they are all in their tighty whities.

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