The first episodes of American Horror Stories just dropped, and it’s got us looking back at the history of the show that inspired it. Ever since the first season of American Horror Story debuted in 2011, it’s been a cultural touchstone. The show has won 16 Emmys, two Golden Globes, and countless fans across the world. It’s an indelible part of our nightmares.
The show has helped make actors like Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters, Lily Rabe, and Emma Roberts into superstars, and has given legends like Angela Bassett, Kathy Bates, Adina Porter, Frances Conroy, and, of course, Jessica Lange space to flex their acting chops and eat up as much scenery as they want. It introduced us to iconic characters like Rubber Man, Cordelia Goode, The Countess, and Constance Langdon. American Horror Story is American Pop Culture.
This year’s season, Double Feature, will be the 10th Horror Story Ryan Murphy et al. have brought us, so we ranked all nine previous seasons of the show, looking at acting, scares, writing, and fashion, to determine our favorites. Let us know if you agree or disagree!
We will be forever thankful for AHS: Hotel for introducing Lady Gaga to the world of Ryan Murphy, but that’s not enough to make up for the season’s many flaws. Hotel featured a lack of focus and seemed to favor style over storytelling. Plus, we weren’t exactly fans of the Addiction Demon or his corkscrew dildo.
Yes, Sarah Paulson was great, as were Evan Peters and Adina Porter, but for many of us, this season hit a little too close to home and strayed too far away from the supernatural elements we usually love in the series. Maybe instead of Trump, AHS should've stuck with witches, curses, and demons.
This season swung for the fences, but didn’t quite connect. While the concept of a show-within-a-show could’ve worked, and definitely led to some bonkers performances, the execution just wasn’t there. The season lost its footing toward the end, and was just headed in too many directions for it to be a classic season. But still, we’d rewatch.
This season got a whopping 20 Emmy nominations, making it one of the most celebrated seasons. Not everything Freak Show tried worked, but it tried enough things that do work to keep us on the edges of our seats. From Sarah Paulson as conjoined twins, to Edward Mordrake, to a killer clown, and Finn Whittrock as a murderous man-child named Dandy, this season had it all.
One of the more out-there seasons, Apocalypse came out the gates with a bold premise and never held back any punches. You can’t really go much bigger than the end of the world, and AHS brought its own unique spins to a story we’d seen many times before. Plus, this season brought back some of our favorite witches, that’s why it deserves this spot on the list.
AHS icons Jessica Lange and Kathy Bates both won Emmys for their performances this season. It also kicked off an era of millennials dressing in all black and becoming witches. This season was so iconic, several of the characters come back and save the world in another season, Apocalypse. Ryan Murphy knew that once he introduced us to Supreme Cordelia Goode, we’d never get enough of her.
AHS: '84 didn’t have Sarah Paulson or Evan Peters, so it’s been a bit overlooked by many, but while die-hard fans might’ve missed some of the classic AHS players, others like Emma Roberts, Billie Lourd, and Leslie Grossman put in great performances. Plus, newcomer Angelica Ross was a definite standout. When you put together those great performances with lots of fun homages to classic slasher films, this season has revitalized the franchise and gotten us excited all over again for the future of American Horror Story.
Jessica Lange won a Golden Globe, SAG Award, AND an Emmy for her performance in the show's first season,
The one that started it all. We didn’t really know what to expect from a show called American Horror Story made by the creator of Glee and Nip/Tuck, so when Murder House happened, it was a true cultural reset. Ryan Murphy introduced us to a campy and utterly creepy world of demons, ghosts, gays, and absolutely stunning acting performances from some of our favorite actors. This season set a very high bar that few seasons have been able to match.
This season scored 17 Primetime Emmy nominations, and will forever be stuck in our minds. It features one of Sarah Paulson’s most iconic performances, as lesbian journalist Lana Winters, and every other actor stepped up to match her level. Frances Conroy as the angel of death? Iconic. Zachary Quinto as a sadistic psychiatrist? Iconic. Lily Rabe as a demon-possessed nun? Iconic. Evan Peters as an alien abductee? Iconic. Jessica Lange as motherfucking Sister Jude? ICONIC!!! We asked for horror stories, and with Asylum, Ryan Murphy delivered a perfect one.