Welcome back to another ranking post! Now that Double Feature has wrapped up, I thought it was time to rank all 10 seasons of American Horror Story. If you’ve been a dedicated viewer from the beginning (like myself) you would know that this show can be very hit or miss. Created by Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuck, this anthology focuses on real-life events in American history, sometimes with a supernatural twist. Each season features a new tale and a lot of the actors are recycled into fresh roles. It’s also known for its horrific opening credits. I could do a post ranking those alone. Without further ado, here is my list from favourite to least favourite. Spoilers ahead! This is going to get controversial!
Without a doubt, Asylum is the best season of American Horror Story…period! It’s legitimately scary, ridiculously intriguing and Jessica Lange’s best acting role as Sister Jude. This installment follows the patients and staff members of the church-owned mental asylum, Briarcliff Manor. When Kit Walker (Evan Peters) is wrongfully accused of being a prolific serial killer (despite claiming he was actually abducted by aliens), he is incarcerated at Briarcliff. There, he meets many interesting patients, who also confess to imprisonment for crimes they didn’t commit. Under the watchful eye of the corrupt nuns and Monsignor Timothy Howard, the prisoners are routinely subjected to supernatural and scientific influences, including demonic possession, and as Kit experienced, extraterrestrial abduction. Asylum has the best cast, storyline and scares. I believe it’s some of Ryan Murphy’s finest work and if you only watch one season, let it be this.
2.) Murder House
In second place, we have Murder House, the one that started it all. This story follows the Harmon family, who move into a restored mansion, notorious for its history of brutal deaths. Little do they know, whoever dies on the property, can return as a vengeful spirit. Flashbacks depict the mansion’s previous homeowners throughout the last century, dating back to its construction in the 1920s. If you notice that the majority of the seasons high on my list are the earlier ones, that is because of Jessica Lange. When she left the show, it got considerably more hit and miss for me. Similar to Asylum, this installment is genuinely scary. It’s also got an epic romance that seems wrong to ship, but you can’t help but do so anyway. Violet Harmon finds herself falling for a potentially psychotic boy, named Tate Langdon, who becomes one of Ben Harmon’s psychology patients. There is a really heartbreaking and unsettling scene between the two of them. I won’t give it away. Needless to say, I love a haunted house setting and this truly was the perfect debut season of American Horror Story. Finally, the Rubber Man? Need I say more?
It is my great pleasure to announce that I saw the actual Coven house in New Orleans and it looks just as spectacular on the outside as it does in the show. The third season of AHS takes place in my beloved Nola and follows a group of witches, who struggle to hide their identities in society. Zoe Benson (Taissa Farmiga), a young teenager completely unaware of the existence of witches, discovers her truth as a Salem descendant after a violent accident that causes the death of her boyfriend. She is sent to an all-girls boarding school in New Orleans, which aims to protect and house young women who carry this unique bloodline, and keep them from the dangers of the outside world. We get to witness magical politics at play as the witches vie for the position of Supreme – the most powerful sorceress of the generation. There’s also devilish voodoo, a swamp witch obsessed with Stevie Nicks and outstanding performances from Sarah Paulson, Emma Roberts, Jessica Lange, Frances Conroy and Angela Bassett. What more could you need?
This is a highly controversial opinion, but I loved Hotel. I’m partial to haunted lodgings, like movies 1408 and The Shining. Also, anybody that thinks Lady Gaga isn’t an incredible actress in this installment, needs to watch it again. Set in 2015, the season follows the strange and dangerous happenings that seem to center around the retro Hotel Cortez in downtown Los Angeles. It was initially built as a secret torture chamber, to fulfill the violent desires of founder James Patrick March (Evan Peters). Honestly, his character is one of the reasons this is so high up on my list. His accent was hilarious and you couldn’t help but love the deranged serial killer. Detective John Lowe (Wes Bentley), arrives at the hotel, based on intel from an anonymous tip, to investigate a grisly string of murders, each of which exemplify a sin in violation of one of the Ten Commandments. The hotel is led by March’s fashionista widow Elizabeth Johnson (Lady Gaga), also known as the Countess – who was mutated into a vampire by her former lovers. It’s dark, sexy and based on the infamous Cecil Hotel. It also has one of my favourite opening credits.
5.) Freak Show
I know this installment isn’t to everybody’s taste but I adore a carnival setting. I don’t understand people that say this season isn’t scary. The travelling troupe aren’t, but Twisty the deformed killer clown sure is! Google him and tell me he doesn’t give you the creeps! Set in 1952, this story follows a struggling freak show led by Elsa Mars (Jessica Lange) in the sleepy town of Jupiter, Florida. She dreams of finding a home for her “monsters,” as well as her own fame and fortune. To drum up business and save her troupe once and for all, Elsa also recruits conjoined twin sisters Bette and Dot Tattler (Sarah Paulson) to perform in her act. In a time when the era of television is beginning to reign high above sideshow performances, these individuals must overcome those who persecute them, based on their looks. However, as the season unfolds, it is revealed that multiple dark entities have taken up residence in Jupiter, with all their eyes being set on the freaks. It’s colourful, creative and has an excellent cast. Don’t sleep on Freak Show.
Now that the first five excellent seasons are out of the way, let’s get into the latter half of AHS, where I started to become more disappointed and less impressed. If you’re expecting a post-apocalyptic story with killer zombies, don’t get excited. You won’t get it. It certainly seemed like it was heading that way in the beginning, but by the end, you’re watching an entirely different show. Set in the near future, the Antichrist, Michael Langdon (Cody Fern) brings about the apocalypse by instigating nuclear warfare. Several survivors of the aftermath take refuge in a fallout shelter named Outpost 3, run by the formidable Wilhemina Venable (Sarah Paulson) and Miriam Mead (Kathy Bates). Flashbacks three years prior, reveal that Outpost 3 was an all-boys warlock school led by John Henry Moore, that unknowingly harbored the Antichrist, in the hopes that he would rise as the first ever male Supreme. Yes, if Supreme and the name Langdon sounds familiar to you, it’s because Apocalypse includes a Murder House and Coven crossover. For some fans, this was a big no-no, but for me, who adored those previous seasons, was 100% here for it. That is why it’s higher up on my list. Not only that, Jessica Lange reprises her role as Constance. It was really interesting to see what became of Tate Langdon’s son and his descent into pure evil. I enjoyed it, but the second half was way better than the first, in my opinion.
Cult would’ve been much lower on my list, if it wasn’t for Evan Peter’s role as Kai Anderson. Set in 2016 and 2017, the fictional town of Brookfield Heights, Michigan is left divided in the wake of Donald Trump’s election as president. Local restaurant owner Ally Mayfair-Richards (Sarah Paulson) is utterly distraught, along with her wife Ivy (Alison Pill). Despite the help of her psychiatrist, Ally becomes increasingly unstable in the following weeks, as her long-repressed phobias (which includes clowns, bees, heights and trypophobia) begin to re-emerge, and start affecting her relationships with her wife and their son, Oz. Across town, misogynistic, right-winger Kai, rejoices at the election results, enticing him to pursue political power by running for city council, led by radical feminist, Bebe Babbitt (Frances Conroy) and his reluctant, liberal sister, Winter (Billie Lourd), who the Mayfair-Richards hire as their nanny. As Ally attempts to re-adjust to regular life, she becomes terrorized by a group of masked assailants, donned in clown attire, who are only present when she is alone, leaving those around her to wonder if she was truly attacked, or if they were merely hallucinations. This season has a lot of gas-lighting and an unpleasant twist. It’s also very political and hard-hitting. I didn’t like it as much as the other installments, but it wasn’t as bad, compared to what’s coming next!
8.) Double Feature
The latest season of American Horror Story was presented in a new way. It featured two different stories. The first half, Red Tide, followed the Gardner family, who move to Provincetown for the winter, so Harry, the patriarch, can write in peace and produce a smash-hit. However, he suffers from writer’s block and one night, meets some odd individuals that offer him black pills they claim will aid in his creativity and productivity. Unfortunately, the side-effects are extreme, turning users into blood-sucking monsters. It strongly highlights the ugly price of fame and success. The second half, Death Valley, follows four college students, who embark on a camping trip that ends in a horrifying and deadly conspiracy that has been decades in the making. It also flashbacks to the 1950’s, during Eisenhower’s reign as President and the discovery of the infamous Area 51. The only reason Double Feature isn’t last, is because of Red Tide. It was a fascinating story, an awesome setting and a great cast with the addition of Macaulay Culkin. However, Death Valley was a complete and utter mess. I could barely get through it. The ending was so anti-climatic and confusing. I didn’t care for any of it and I wish season 10 would’ve focused on the first half only. That was a choice Ryan Murphy!
In second last place we have 1984. Firstly, this has the lamest opening credits in the entire franchise. Secondly, I was bored to death. I didn’t like this season. It did everything possible to force the 80’s era down our throats and not in a good way. The story follows Brooke Thompson (Emma Roberts) as she travels to a remote, newly reopened summer camp with other teenagers, to work as a counselor following a terrifying encounter with serial killer, Richard Ramirez. Upon arrival, the group encounter its owner, the deeply religious Margaret Booth, who was once a camper there, with her own experience surviving a killer. Not long after the counselors settle into their first week, news breaks that deranged murderer, Benjamin Richter (also known as Mr. Jingles) has escaped a local insane asylum and is presumed to be heading for the camp, where he has a violent history. However, as the season progresses, more secrets are unveiled, as well as flashbacks detailing the history of Camp Redwood. I understand that this was trying to pay homage to a Friday the 13th style movie, but it was executed poorly. Plus, everybody who dies, continues to come back. It was so annoying. I wanted them to stay dead!
Quite possibly my most controversial opinion yet, but Roanoke is last on my list. It’s placed there, because it disappointed me so deeply. It’s not like 1984, that I didn’t enjoy from the beginning. I actually thought the 6th installment of AHS started off wonderfully. It was legitimately scary, featured a creepy haunted house and had the potential to be in my top three. Unfortunately, it took a gigantic dive halfway through, which couldn’t save what came before it. The season follows the supernatural events that occur in a renovated farmhouse in North Carolina, which is situated on the land where the Roanoke Colony moved after their infamous 1580’s disappearance. In 2015, Shelby Miller (Lily Rabe), her husband Matt and his sister Lee Harris, recount their harrowing experience living in the farmhouse a year prior, in a popular documentary series titled: My Roanoke Nightmare. This included their encounters with the violent and vengeful ghosts of the house’s previous residents, the Roanoke Colony, the cannibalistic Polk family who live nearby and the seductive English witch, Scathach (Lady Gaga). In 2016, the success of the documentary leads to a sequel titled: Return to Roanoke: Three Days in Hell, spearheaded by the producer of the original series, who invites the Millers, as well as many of the reenactment actors, to return to the farmhouse for three days during the blood moon, where all their actions will be captured by hidden cameras. Although the Millers are aware of the entities that reside in the house, they agree to return, each with their own agenda. The production eventually descends into a chaotic, yet tragic disaster. Here is my issue with it. I did not like the reality-show format that was introduced after the first documentary ended. The actors were annoying and trying too hard to be unlikable. Secondly, The Butcher, played by Kathy Bates, was downright ridiculous. I could barely understand her when she spoke. I don’t what that accent was, but it sounded like a blend of different languages. Thirdly, I’m not a fan of found footage. It’s just not my type of horror. It’s a no from me.
Thank you for reading! Do you agree or disagree with my list? How would you rank this series? If you want me to rank the opening credits and the spin off: American Horror Stories, let me know.
Peace & Love xoxo