Let’s face it, American Horror Story is more than just a fan favorite series, it’s one of today’s franchises that’s going to be remembered for years to come. The anthological approach to each new season keeps things fresh while the recurring stars keep it all feeling strangely familiar.
One of the most thought provoking and original series’ we’ve seen on the small screen, loaded with nods to historical figures, American Horror Story has already earned its place in history. That’s a bold statement, given the fact that the show is still in full swing with new series’ being produced annually. A few more amazing seasons and people will one day consider AHS an all-time great small screen genre offering.
When I learned that the big focus of this season would be descendants of the few witches who managed to survive the Salem Witch Trials, I just about sprung from my skin in excitement. The Salem Witch Trials have always fascinated me. The fact that there’s almost a Suspiria vibe to the season should have also had me sweating in excitement. What didn’t fascinate me was the direction that American Horror Story took things. And what didn’t leaving me sweating in excitement was the nod to Suspiria. No, Coven offered me the opposite of what I’d predicted for the season: a flat narrative with moments that should’ve been stunning but weren’t. If there’s one season that felt as though it dragged on far too long, and failed to nurture the ingrained qualities begging to be nurtured, it was Coven. I guess they can’t all be home runs.
While the thought of an ancient vampire and a madman in James Patrick March, hotel owner and serial torture freak, sound extremely awesome, and – not surprisingly – rather different than any other story American Horror Story has given us, Hotel left me struggling to invest in the season. Some adore Hotel over all others, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that we’d entered familiar and uncharacteristically flat territory. There’s no denying that Gaga far surpassed expectations, and there’s no denying that she rest in the center of some of the more twisted scenes of the season. All the same, Hotel just wasn’t a favorite for me, at all. Kudos to the crew for turning in strong performances, not so many kudos to the writing crew for fumbling what could and should have been the most shocking season of American Horror Story yet.
3 Murder House
Murder House has already achieved the feel of a classic, and that’s likely because it was American Horror Story’s inaugural story arc. Whatever the case, catching a whiff of nostalgia from a season just five years old is special in itself. When you factor in all the relationship turmoil and the eventual revelation that the restored mansion one unfortunate family has been calling home is full-on haunted, things get creepy. Almost too creepy. Murder House isn’t the greatest season we’ve seen thus far, and it did feel as though it began to drag just a bit as the season approached a close, but there’s something slightly simpler in this arc when compared to others, and that is, in my opinion, very endearing. This is the perfect place to start with the franchise if you haven’t been keeping up.
2 Freak Show
Picking a true, number one favorite season of AHS was a bit tougher than expected. Between Asylum and Freak Show you’re flipping a coin of greatness, and one side is only slightly more impressive than the other. Asylum gets the nod overall, but Freak Show is absurdly freaky and often so disjointed that feels oddly appropriate. A major, major part of all the freakiness comes courtesy of Twisty the Clown, who just might be the most terrifying clown ever captured on film and certainly the most intimidating figure in AHS history. Twisty may not be the focus of the entire season, but for the first handful of episodes he’ll leave you feeling creeped out on an absolutely epic level. At the end of the day, Freak Show lost a bit of steam as the season drew nearer to conclusion, but it’s one of the stronger stories overall and the cast of characters are no doubt the most diverse we’ve met from American Horror Story.
A period piece of sorts, Asylum takes viewers back to the 60s for a total and complete mind-bending experience. The visuals in this season aren’t as over the top as those provided by season’s like Hotel, but Ryan Murphy was already taking American Horror Story in a very taboo direction. Between a nutso nympho, a seriously chilling serial killer and a lesbian journalist we’ve got an astoundingly diverse group of characters… but we haven’t even mentioned the staff, who all seem to be quirky and equipped with ulterior motives. Nothing is as it seems in Asylum, and that’s one of the many reasons this season (the second of five) really stands out.
By now we’re all wondering what we’ll see from the sixth season of American Horror Story. We’re going to find out in September, and our hopes are high!
How would you rank the seasons of American Horror Story?