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It’s that time of the year when American Horror Story promo material starts to appear and theories begin to roll in, with this year’s rumours involving Lady Gaga as a twisted fairy, the lost British colony of Roanoke, exorcisms, and spooky children of the corn. But only one thing can be certain: as long as Ryan Murphy makes this show it will be a mess of over-complicated side stories and sadistic violence and I will watch every stupid episode. Here are the first five seasons ranked:
#5: HOTEL (Season Five)
The inspiration for the eponymous hotel is the Cecil Hotel in Los Angeles, former home of serial killer Richard Ramirez and location of the eternally creepy Eliza Lam case, when the body of a 21 year old woman disappeared after she was seen acting erratically on the hotel’s security footage only for her body to be found weeks later in a rooftop water tank… discovered when residents complained of discoloured tap water. Unfortunately there is way too much going on in this season. Vampires? Ghosts? Demons? Heroin addicts? Serial killers? Lady Gaga (but she looks great)?
PROS: Evan Peters as Mr March, serial killer parties.
CONS: They played “Hotline Bling” and I couldn’t handle it.
#4: COVEN (Season Three)
While it’s not necessarily bad, I didn’t find Coven particularly memorable. Emma Roberts (daughter of Eric Roberts, star of the “Mr Brightside” music video) is in this season and she’s great but in the way where you can tell she isn’t really acting and is just lowkey evil. There is a lot of really messy stuff about race that never really goes anywhere. Kathy Bates is fantastic (duh) playing real life awful person Madame LaLaurie, a socialite and serial killer in early 1800s New Orleans.
PROS: Witches are cool, aesthetic etc.
CONS: The episode about Stevie Knicks is honestly bizarre.
#3: FREAK SHOW (Season Four)
A lot of people hate on this season for a lack of discernible plot, but Murphy’s “style over substance” show-running really won me over, as a huge fan of the sideshow culture that originated with the Barnum & Bailey Circus and was infamously featured in Todd Browning’s Freaks. Sarah Paulson is amazing as conjoined twins Bette and Dot, and the supporting cast is made up of great actors and performers who have physical abnormalities and disabilities instead of just casting able-bodied actors.
PROS: Twisty the clown, Dandy the psychotic rich white boy of your nightmares.
CONS: Lobster fisting, all the singing.
#2: ASYLUM (Season Two)
Asylum is the most cohesive and genuinely terrifying season between the psychopathic Bloodyface and the bleak reality of mid 1900s mental health “care.” Jessica Lange is breathtaking! Sarah Paulson kills it, Evan Peters too. It would be number one on this list but there is some really confusing and vague alien stuff that bogs the story down.
PROS: Strong female leads, lead singer of Maroon 5 killed early on.
CONS: Very fucked up and often triggering content (definitely not uncommon for this show).
#1 MURDER HOUSE (Season One)
Ryan Murphy has made a lot of shows I have enjoyed ie. Nip/Tuck, Popular, but it’s true of his work that the first seasons are incredible and after that it’s anyone’s guess. When Murder House came out it was super exciting, horrifying, and fresh and it still holds up. There are solid twists and scares and it’s the good kind of messy. If you haven’t seen any of American Horror Story and you’re a horror fan I would start here!
PROS: Teen angst and an iconic scene where a man cries and masturbates over a lamp.
CONS: Fairly graphic content involving sexual assault.