'American Horror Story': The curious case of Kathy Bates' Baltimore-ish accent

'American Horror Story:' The curious case of Kathy Bates' Baltimore-ish accent.

Her beard may be the least interesting aspect of Kathy Bates' character on "American Horror Story: Freak Show."

Can we discuss Ethel Darling's unique accent? More directly: Is that some form of Baltimorese?

The signs are there: There have been quite a few "hons," super-rounded vowels and other word pronunciations that you can imagine coming from the mouths of lifelong Baltimoreans.

We're not the only ones who have noticed it. Chatter about the accent has been incessant since the show premiered last week.

One fan, Natalie Sermon, @miznattie, tweeted directly to Bates: "Your bearded lady and her evident Baltimore accent is fan-freak-in-tastic!! #heavyontheO #AmericanHorrorStoryFreakShow"

And Bates, @MsKathyBates, responded: "Glad YOU got it. Tell NY Times."

We're assuming Bates is alluding to this part of the Times' "AHS" review: "and [there's] Kathy Bates as the bearded lady, whose accent wanders around the Southern states, periodically landing on something vaguely Appalachian."

Really, New York Times? "The Southern states"? Not quite.

Thankfully, the good folks at Flavorwire have investigated the accent. A recently published piece, titled "Where the Hell Is Kathy Bates' 'American Horror Story' Accent From? A Linguist Explains," gives an overview of writers trying to discern the accent's origins. 

Vulture's Brian Moylan calls it a "Baltimore honk." Time magazine's James Poniewozik describes it as being from "somewhere in the greater Philadelphia area with a couple of detours to the south."

Most bravely, New York magazine's Matt Zoller Seitz dubs it "Wisconsin Mennonite, perhaps."

But Flavorwire's linguistic expert, Columbia University professor John McWhorter, sees nothing but Charm City.

"She’s trying to do Baltimore, especially old-time working class Baltimore,” McWhorter wrote Flavorwire over email. “It’s a little shaky — she has a way of slightly overdoing accents.”

For the record, we've reached out to FX to see if Bates has time to discuss the inspiration for her accent. Plus, we have beauty tip questions for the bearded lady.

Apart from that, maybe "American Horror Story: Freak Show" will eventually reveal Ethel Darling's backstory. Did she grow up amongst the Hons of Hampden? Perhaps her father was a worker on the docks who didn't appreciate his hirsute daughter?

We're eagerly waiting, hon.

"American Horror Story: Freak Show" airs 10 p.m. Wednesdays on FX.

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