American Horror Story

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American Horror Story Title Card.

American Horror Story (AHS) is an American anthology horror T.V series created and produced by Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk. American Horror Story first aired in 2011 and the show has just ended its fourth season; a fifth has been commissioned for October 2015. The programme is an anthology series which means that each season is a self contained miniseries, following a different set of characters in different settings.

However in 2014 Ryan Murphy revealed to Entertainment Weekly that a character from season 2 would appear in season 4 and that all seasons are interconnected with each other in one way or another.

Overview

As American Horror Story is an anthology series, each series is set in a different state and time but all include flashback sequences and non-linear sequences, this is a very common theme in postmodern T.V shows such as AHS.

Season 1: Murder House (2011)

The story of the first season is about infidelity and takes place in present day (2011) and follows the Harmon Family who move from Boston to Los Angeles after Mrs Harmon catches her husband having an affair. The Harmons move into a mansion in L.A but soon begin to encounter the homes previous occupants and notice lots of strange things and characters going on around the house.

Season 2: Asylum (2012-2013)

The second season is about sanity and science v.s religion and takes place in a church-run mental institution in 1964. The series revolves around the lives of the staff and patients within the asylum but episodes at the beginning and end of the season also show characters lives outside the asylum. The asylums inhabitants are frequently subject to supernatural, scientific and religious influences such as demonic possession and alien abductions.

Season 3: Coven (2013-2014)

The third season is largely about female empowerment and oppression, this season is set in the present day (2013/14), in which descendants of witches are nearly extinct and are in danger from various extremist groups.The show centers around a group of witches in New Orleans who attend and teach at a boarding school for 'exceptional young ladies'. A considerable part of 'Coven' is shown in flashbacks of the 1830's and is about the real-life serial killer Madame Delphine LaLaurie. Other themes include witchcraft, voodoo, racism, and family relationships; particularly mother to child.

Season 4: Freak Show (2014-2015)

The story of the fourth season is centered around discrimination, particularly of those deemed 'freaks' by society. The story takes place in Jupiter, Florida in 1952 but has flashbacks to 1930's/40's Germany and flash-forwards to the early 1960's. This season is about a struggling freak show and the owners desperation for success and stardom. The season follows the lives of the freak show owner 'Elsa Mars' Jessica Lange, as well as the "monsters" she cares for. Other themes are about community, society and the threat of technology.

Season 5

FX has renewed American Horror Story for a 13-episode fifth season, which is set to premiere in October 2015, so far the seasons story line hasn't been announced.

Cast

Main Cast Members

Actor Murder House Asylum Coven Freak Show
Jessica Lange Constance Langdon Sister Jude Martin Fiona Goode Elsa Mars
Evan Peters Tate Langdon Kit Walker Kyle Spencer Jimmy Darling
Sarah Paulson Billie Dean Howard Lana Winters Cordelia Foxx Bette and Dot Tattler
Lily Rabe Nora Montgomery Sister Mary Eunice McKee Misty Day Sister Mary Eunice McKee
Frances Conroy Moira O'Hara Shachath: The Angel of Death Myrtle Snow Gloria Mott
Denis O'Hare Larry Harvey Spalding Stanley
Jamie Brewer Adelaide Langdon Nan Marjorie
Angela Bassett Marie Laveau Desiree Dupree
Kathy Bates Delphine LaLaurie Ethel Darling
Emma Roberts Madison Montgomery Maggie Esmerelda
Zachary Quinto Chad Warwick Dr. Oliver Thredson/Bloodyface
Taissa Farmiga Violet Harmon Zoe Benson

Recurring cast members

  • Gabourey Sidibe - Appeared in both 'Coven' and 'Freak Show'.
  • Grace Gummer appeared in 'Coven' and 'Freak Show'
  • Danny Huston - Appeared in both 'Coven' and 'Freak Show'.
  • John Cromwell - Appeared in both 'Asylum' and 'Freak Show' as A Young Arthur Arden.
  • Naomi Grossman- Appeared in both 'Asylum' and 'Freak Show' as Pepper.

Reception

Critical reception

American Horror Story has been mainly well received by critics, as it's an anthology each season is completely different and therefore can receive very different reviews. Season 2 is widely regarded as the best season while season 1 is regarded as the worst.

Season 1 (Murder House)

The first season of the show received mixed reviews from critics, garnering a top critic rating of 50% on Rotten Tomatoes. Due to the shows unusual style, subject matter and plot the show developed a huge fan group and quickly built up a cult following. However, it still received lots of negative reviews from critics, usually for being uneven and difficult to follow; one L.A Times review too stated that the show was "too camp" and "a mess".

Season 2 (Asylum)

Asylum received success among critics and fans and has a rating of 83% on Rotten Tomatoes, which is a huge increase compared to the season 1's 50%. In a review by The Huffington Post the critic praised the season for the writers and cast on the convincing "emotional pain of the characters" as well as the "real feel" of their "uncertainty and terror".

Season 3 (Coven)

The third season also received positive reviews, with a 71% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and the site's consensus calling it " A potently structured fright-fest." Many critics and fans also praised the powerful female leads as well as new editions, Kathy Bates and Gabourey Sidibe; fans were less keen on Emma Roberts joining the cast.

Season 4 (Freak Show)

Freak Show again received very favourable reviews, scoring 79% on Rotten Tomatoes, with the site praising the seasons "thrills" and "stylish presentation and game cast".

Other Media

Companion series

American Crime Story was announced on October 7th 2014, each season will be a 10 episode anthology, the first of which is titled 'The People vs. O.J. Simpson and will focus on the murder trial of O.J. Simpson. The series will be produced and created by Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk, the creators of American Horror Story


(All Content provided by Alice Owers)