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LET’S RANK: American Horror Story Seasons

Try not to scream as we take you through the best, not so good, and bad of the iconic horror series.


Asylum

Season 2 of AHS, Asylum, was a literal masterpiece – the unicorn of prime-time television. Every performance from Sarah Paulson and  Zachary Quinto to Evan Peters and Jessica Lange created an engaging plot piece with unorthodox genre inclusions like zombies and aliens. Asylum created a reimagining of the AHS universe with new and exciting character tropes and thematic story development not commonly seen on mainstream television. Asylum remains the best in the franchise, AHS in its prime. We’re  doubtful anyone will be able to recreate the magic, spook and awe of Season 2. 


Murder House

American Horror Story season 1 came in guns-a-blazing with riveting storytelling, an all-star cast and a gruesome twist that left viewers in shock. Murder House was one of the first prime time television series to challenge the idea of ‘the main character(s) must survive’ by evidently killing off the Harmon family in the latter half of the season. In an even greater surprise, the inclusion of Jessica Lange as Constance Langdon proved to be a smash hit.  Critics and fans hailed her performance which led to a sweep in awards season. Season 1 will always have a special place in our hearts.


Coven

Immediately dubbed one of the most successful seasons in the AHS franchise, and a pop-culture phenomenon, Coven told the story of Fiona Goode (Jessica Lange) and her constant battle with substance abuse, power and her fear of death. This was the first season to introduce Angela Bassett as Marie Laveau and Kathy Bates as Madame LaLaurie – a midcentury tyrant turned housekeeper from New Orleans. What made this season so special to us and the fans, is its continuity and ability to maintain substantial character development for its main cast members played by Sarah Paulson and Taissa Farmiga. Each episode feels like a cohesive anthology of well-orchestrated plot lines and striking dialogue.


1984

A return to form – as many would say. The latest installment of AHS, 1984 brought all the camp and classic horror you would expect from an 80’s slasher flick. Returning cast favorites include Cody Fern, Emma Roberts and Billie Lorde, with a standout performance from Angelica Ross as the resident ‘Nurse Rita’. Tie-ins from classic horror genres such as Friday the 13th and Nightstalker brought some new age nostalgia to the season. All in all, this was a solid season both with casting and storytelling. We only hope Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk can continue the momentum into season 10 (whenever that is).


Freak Show

Finding itself at the middle of the pack is Freak Show. Season 4 gave us great casting from mainstays Jessica Lange, Angela Bassett, Kathy Bates and the return of fan favorite Emma Roberts. The season provided some great moments that were both heart wrenching and yet oddly satisfying. The surprise inclusion of Neil Patrick Harris was well received until episode 12 where he gruesomely ends the life of Maggie Esmeralda played by Emma Roberts. While the show depicted a satisfying storyline, it still did not have the full vital essence of what makes AHS so great.


Apocalypse

More of a follow up to Season 3’s Coven, Apocalypse is a fan service through and through. It combines the story aspects from Murder House, Hotel, Coven and Asylum to provide a modest conclusion to the birth of the Son of Satan in Season 1. There are some great cameos – rather short lived - from Constance Langdon played by Jessica Lange, and Marie Laveau played by Angela Bassett. In addition, Michael Langdon, played by Cody Fern, became a fan favorite despite his rather sinister roots – and cemented Fern’s residency on the AHS cast.


Hotel

The fifth installment to the AHS franchise, and the first season excluding fan favorite Jessica Lange. Hotel depicts a rather mediocre story of ‘paranormal activity’, while including some references to other seasons such as Coven and Murder House. Aside from Lady Gaga’s portrayal as the Countess, the true star of the season was not any one person, but rather the Hotel Cortez itself. From the eerie hallways, the blood drenched rooms, to the wayward spirits – the hotel offers much more than just the average haunted house scare. These accommodations are all-inclusive. 


Cult

The 7th season of AHS, Cult, had a myriad of problems from cast members feeling uncomfortable in scenes, to the script and storytelling ‘pushing the envelope’, so to speak. Season 7 came on the heels of the 2016 US election and aimed at portraying the newly elected President as a tyrant who incites violence and hate across America. Evan Peter’s portrayal of cult leader Kai Anderson continues to be the breakout star of this installment providing us enough grit and lunacy to make this season somewhat engaging. 


Roanoke

Released in 2016, Roanoke continues to be one of fan’s least favorite releases from AHS. Not for its choice in casting, or choice of era depiction – but its departure from what fans were so accustomed to in previous seasons. We don’t blame the decision to ‘go against the grain’ per say, however we feel it didn’t have a lasting positive effect on the viewer experience. As we feared, looking back on the season now – it truly did not age well and will remain at the bottom of our list until the end of time. 


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