American Horror Story

Want to watch a TV series that will send your heart racing and your mind cracking as you try to figure out the next occurrence which might even turn out in a way that you never expected? Want to watch a TV show that you would look forward to and would never leave your mind even if it is still days away from an episode to air? If you are the type who wants thrill, fear, and excitement rolled into one, then American Horror Story is your type of show.

American Horror Story

American Horror Story, which is known as AHS for short, is an anthology horror, supernatural, drama and erotic thriller television series which is created and produced by Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk.

Since it is an anthology series, it is comprised of different miniseries which now have five seasons. Each miniseries is self-contained and has a different story from the other. Some elements of the story are influenced by real life crimes with a little added twist.

american horror story hotel

FX Network officially announced that a series will be aired with Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk as the writers and Murphy as the director. Later on, Dante Di Loreto joined them and started its production in April 2011. It was in July 2011 when FX officially announced that the series will soon begin.

The pilot episode was aired on October 5, 2011 garnering the best ratings which continued to rocket in the next seasons. Although there were some who criticized the show, the series was positively received by fans, viewers and even TV show critics. The show also received many different awards and nominations.

The Birth of AHS

The horror-drama television show’s conception actually started prior to the production of “Glee” which is also from the same writer and director. The duo wanted to do something different from “Glee” which is a horror genre that aims to scare the viewers.

But they want to be different from the usual horror films and movies by putting a distinct angle into it. According to Murphy, he wants the “people to be a little bit off balance” after watching it. The show is inspired by the “Dark Shadows” of ABS and the AMC‘s “The Walking Dead.”

ahs creators

Murphy recalled that his grandmother had forced him to watch “Dark Shadows” to toughen him up when he was still younger. And it appears that Murphy has really gained something from watching it, turning his thoughts and personal fears into an amazing series with scenes that will never be forgotten by the viewers.

Aside from that, what actually makes AHS scarier is the real life crimes behind it. You would cringe after you will learn that it actually happened in real life.

 

Production and Casting

Murphy and Falchuk already planned that each season of the series will have a different story and will not merely continue that of the previous season. When the first season was done, the creators decided to change the location as well as the cast for the second season.

But they also agreed that some cast from the first season will be returning for the next seasons playing a completely different role. This is one thing that makes AHS very exciting and unique both for the actors and the viewers. It would be challenging on the part of the actors to be playing various roles each season especially that the viewers already loved them as a certain character from the previous season.

ahs cast

As for the viewers, some may confuse them from their past characters but because of the impressive acting prowess of the actors, this would not happen especially that their looks and their entire personality are changed for a totally different character.

Players who appeared in the five seasons of AHS are Evan Peters, Sarah Paulson, Lily Rabe, and Frances Conroy. Jessica Lange is one favorite star from the show who have received 55 awards for her roles in AHS but it is the first time that she wasn’t involved in the show’s season 5. Aside from them, there are also actors who played various roles in different seasons which includes Taissa Farmiga, Zachary Quinto, Denis O’Hare, Jamie Brewer, Dylan McDermott, Kathy Bates, Alexandra Breckenridge, and Angela Bassett.

The production of AHS started in February 2011 and its casting began on March and ended on May. Its first cast member is Connie Britton as Vivien Harmon, Denis O’Hare as Larry, and Dylan McDermott as Ben Harmon. They were joined by Jessica Lange as Constance, Taissa Farmiga as Violet Harmon and Evan Peters as Tate Langdon in April. Alexandra Breckenridge and Frances Conroy later joined the cast as Moira O’Hara.

 

American Horror Story Seasons

AHS has five seasons already aired since 2011 and the show have received a positive response from the viewers and critics although there are also mixed reviews for every season. Each season has a different story and characters featuring some returning players as well as new actors.

American Horror Story Season 1: Murder House

The first season of AHS is the “Murder House” with 12 episodes that centers on a mansion which is being housed by demons resulting into many deaths. It also revolves on the love story of Violet and the ghost Tate.

American Horror Story Season 2: Asylum

The second season aired on October 17, 2012 titled, “Asylum” comprised of 13 episodes continues the story of 1964 patients, doctors, and nuns from the Briarcliff Mental Institution in Massachusetts. It features a Church-run asylum for the criminally insane people. It is ruled by Sister Jude (Jessica Lange) with an iron fist.

American Horror Story Season 3: Coven

Announced at the 2013 Paley Fest panel is the third season with 13 episodes, titled “Coven” that premiered on October 9, 2013. The story is about the Coven of Salem who occupies the Miss Robichaux’s Academy in New Orleans which is headed by Fiona Goode (Jessica Lange), known as the “Supreme,” a title that many of the witches would like to have.

American Horror Story Season 4: Freak Show

Also with 13 episodes, is the fourth season wherein its title was first revealed by Ryan Murphy in Twitter on March 24, 2014 which is “Freak Show.” We can already tell what the story is about merely by the title. Apparently, it is about some people who performs on the last freak show in Florida called Fräulein Elsa’s Cabinet of Curiosities.

American Horror Story Season 5: Hotel

On February 25, 2015, Lady Gaga, who first joined AHS, announced the title of the new season as “Hotel” on her Twitter account. The show has 12 episodes which is set in the Hotel Cortez in Downtown Los Angeles occupied by demons and ghosts who were trapped inside it.

 

Critics, Reception and Ratings

Obviously, there would be varied responses to the show especially because of its genre and format. Some were happy about how it turned out while others are not. Well, we cannot please everyone. Let us look into how the show was received by the viewers and as well as the critics.

American Horror Story: Murder House

ahs muder house cast

For the first season, AHS Murder House received many positive reviews. According to Rotten Tomatoes, 65% of 42 critics gave the first season a positive review saying that it is “Convoluted yet effective, American Horror Story is strange, gory, and twisted enough to keep viewers hooked.”

On Metacritic, it scored 62 out of 100 based on 30 reviews. Meanwhile, Ken Tucker of Entertainment Weekly gave the pilot episode a B+, saying: “AHS is pretty much all scare, all the time: a whole lotta screams, sex, jolts, mashed faces, psychotic behavior, and dead babies.”

“The similarities are greater than the differences, and they start with the love of excess that stretches through Glee and back to the first Murphy-Falchuk collaboration, Nip/Tuck,” Mike Hales of The New York Times said, according to The Hollywood Reporter which also quoted Alan Sepinwall of HitFix, who gave it a D−, saying: “It is so far over the top that the top is a microscopic speck in its rearview mirror, and so full of strange sounds, sights and characters that you likely won’t forget it – even though many of you will wish you could.”

American Horror Story: Asylum

ahs asylum

The AHS Asylum, got more positive reviews that the previous season with 77% of 43 critics gave it a thumbs up based on Rotten Tomatoes, saying, “American Horror Story: Asylum crosses boundaries to shock and scare with sexy subplots and some innovative takes on current social issues.”

On Metacritic, it scored 65 out of 100 based on 23 reviews while James Poniewozik of Time said, “AHS: Asylum feels like a more focused, if equally frenetic, screamfest. It’s also gorgeously realized, with a vision of its ’60s institution setting so detailed you can smell the stale air and incense.”

Maureen Ryan of The Huffington Post reviewed it saying, “It’s to the credit of Asylum’s writers, directors and cast that the emotional pain of the characters often feels as real as their uncertainty and terror.”

American Horror Story: Coven

american horror story coven-poster

The third season got an even more positive review with 81% of 36 critics rating it with a positive mark according to Rotten Tomatoes with a concensus that says: “A noteworthy ensemble cast combined with creepy storytelling and campy, outrageous thrills make American Horror Story: Coven a potently structured fright-fest.” On Metacritic, it got 71 out of 100 based on 24 reviews.

Todd Van DerWerff of the A.V. Club gave the season a D+, remarking: “It lurched drunkenly from idea to idea, never settling on one long enough to build anything of worth.”

Willa Paskin of Slate said: “In the context of other television, American Horror Story is perverse and refreshing, proof that a great show doesn’t have to be self-serious to be smart.”

American Horror Story: Freak Show

freak show

The fourth season, as rated by Rotten Tomatoes got 87% of 38 critics saying, “Though it may turn off new viewers unaccustomed to its unabashed weirdness, Freak Show still brings the thrills, thanks to its reliably stylish presentation and game cast.” It scored 69 out of 100 on Metacritic based on 19 reviews which noted it as “generally favorable.”

Lake Holland of The Guardian said, “Freak Show feels more rounded, complete and assured than the previous three incarnations; the scariest since the first, the silliest since the second and the nastiest behind the ooh-dear-that’s-a-bit-too-nasty-actually third.”

Nick Venable of Cinema Blend said that the show “once again falls on the wayside when it comes to the titular genre, but the darkly comedic flair and unnerving approach still make this uniquely engaging TV.”

American Horror Story: Hotel

ahs hotel

The fifth season got 58% of 55 critics from Rotten Tomatoes with a consensus that says: “Favoring garish style over effective storytelling, the fifth American Horror Story strands a talented cast at Ryan Murphy’s Hotel.” It got 60 out of 100 on Metacritic based on 24 reviews.

Lacy Baugher of the Baltimore Sun said: “The overall feel of Hotel is fairly similar to Murder House, which also featured time jumps, unexplained creepy dudes in rubber suits, ghosts, demon children and an obsession of fish-eye lens camera shots.”

But there were also negative feedbacks like the review of Richard Lawson of Vanity Fair who said that “it is not trash but garbage.”

Brian Tallerico of RogerEbert.com said: “American Horror Story: Hotel is cluttered, unfocused, ridiculous, and silly, but it is very self-aware and stunningly confident at the same time. Murphy and Falchuk almost dare you not to join in the chaos, and it certainly feels more assured than the inconsistent Freak Show.”

 

Ratings

As for it ratings, season one had 3.18 million viewers during its premiered and 3.22 million viewers when it ended. For season two, there were 3.85 million viewers for the first episode and 2.29 million for the finale. On the third season, 5.54 million people watched its premiere while 4.24 million stay tuned to its finale. The fourth season has the highest viewers for a premiere with 6.13 but had lesser viewers on its ending with 3.37 million. The fifth season was watched by 5.18 million people while its finale was viewed by 2.24 people.

Overall, it is the third season, AHS Coven that had the most viewers with an average of 4 million followed by the fourth season with 3.85 million views. Season one, two and five got 2.82, 2.53 and 2.89 million views, respectively.

 

Awards and Nominations

Because of the high ratings of the show and the impressive performances of its stars, we won’t wonder if it will receive many awards and recognition. It has also been nominated many times for various award giving bodies. All in all, as of this writing, American Horror Story received 222 award nominations wherein they won 86 of those.

American Horror Story Episode Guide

Season#SubtitleNo of EpisodesYearDVD/Blu-Ray
#1Murder House122011
buy3._V192207739_small
#2Asylum132012-13buy3._V192207739_small
#3Coven132013-14buy3._V192207739_small
#4Freak Show132014-15buy3._V192207739_small
#5Hotel122015-16Not available yet

 

References:

1. Stack, Tim (March 6, 2016). ‘American Horror Story’ co-creator Ryan Murphy talks premiere, his favorite scene, and identity of Rubber Man. Entertainment Weekly.
2. Adalian, Josef (March 6, 2016). Ryan Murphy Talks American Horror Story. Vulture.
3. Goldberg, Lesley (September 22, 2011). American Horror Story: 10 Things To Know. Hollywood Reporter.
4. The Futon Critic. FX Orders (March 6, 2016). “American Horror Story” to Series. www.thefutoncritic.com
5. American Horror Story IMDb
6. American Horror Story List of Awards. IMDb

Image Credit:
1. American Horror Story FX image
2. Brad Falchuk & Ryan Murphy at Comic Con
3. AHS Cast at Comic Con
4. AHS Murder House
5. AHS Asylum
6. AHS Coven
7. AHS Freak Show
8. AHS Hotel

American Horror Story

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