Although "American Horror Story" broaches various uncomfortable topics, the relatively familiar ones are easily accepted or overlooked without inducing befuddled musings. Rubber Man transcends that categorization because he is such a mysterious and vital part of the Harmon family's haunted experience. Trying to make sense of Rubber Man and its place in the Murder House time line raises some awkward questions.
When did fetish suits enter the consumer market?
Some aspects of the house, like quasi-grunge Tate (Evan Peters), are easily associated with a certain decade, but the latex suit is more challenging. Since Vivien (Connie Britton) found it prominently displayed in the attic, it likely belonged to the most recent residents, Chad (Zachary Quinto) and Patrick (Teddy Sears). However, casually assigning the kinky clothing to the resident gay couple feels a little too stereotypical, even for "American Horror Story." Constance's (Jessica Lange) randy car dealer circa 1983 seems like a potential source for the suit. Naturally, this leads us to wonder if the rubber suit corresponds to a particular decade or era.
Why is Rubber Man so familiar?
The ominous Rubber Man is undeniably frightening, but there is also something almost trite about the cloaked creature. Thinking back, it was a memorable and sometimes central part of other popular works over the past two decades. "CSI" had a compelling story line that ultimately led to an intelligent, suit-clad contortionist serial killer both on TV and in one of its books. The thorough plot featured many details, including the unidentified man's use of a silicone-based spray to worm his way into the restrictive suit. "The People Under the Stairs," "Pulp Fiction" and "Kill Bill" feature similar suits, but their nominal roles did not include as much development as the "CSI" villain.
"Ben, are you sure this pre-owned latex outfit is BPA-free?"
The horror genre in particular requires audiences to dismiss basic common sense notions as characters make seemingly ridiculous choices. Despite the willingness to accept most of the "American Horror Story" characters' strange choices, Vivien welcoming the pre-owned suit into her bedroom has an inexcusable ick factor that exceeds any headcheese or offal dinner scenes. Perhaps Murder House or an entity within enamored her somehow. Maybe future episodes will reveal some grand explanation, a "Rosemary's Baby" trickery scenario, to account for her shrouded encounter and apparent conception. For now, it is hard to overlook nature-loving Viv's decision. After all, she does not even allow her family to drink out of plastic bottles.