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American Horror Story

American Horror Story is an American anthology horror television series created by Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk. Each season is conceived as a self-contained miniseries, following a different set of characters and settings, and a storyline with its own "beginning, middle, and end." Some plot elements of each season are loosely inspired by true events.[3][4][5] The only actors to be present in all iterations are Evan Peters and Sarah Paulson with Lily Rabe and Frances Conroy appearing in all but one of the seasons each.

American Horror Story
The title written in a distinctive font, white on black
Genre
Created by
Starring see List of American Horror Story cast members
Theme music composer
Composer(s)
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 8
No. of episodes 90 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s)
Producer(s)
  • Alexis Martin Woodall (seasons 1–3)
  • Patrick McKee
  • Robert M. Williams Jr.
  • Ned Martel
Production location(s)
Cinematography
Editor(s)
  • Bradley Buecker
  • Doc Crotzer
  • Adam Penn
Camera setup Single camera
Running time 37–73 minutes[2]
Production company(s)
Distributor 20th Television
Release
Original network FX
Original release October 5, 2011 (2011-10-05) – Present
External links
Website

The first season, retroactively subtitled Murder House, takes place in Los Angeles, California, during the year 2011, and centers on a family that moves into a house haunted by its deceased former occupants. The second season, subtitled Asylum, takes place in Massachusetts during the year 1964, and follows the stories of the patients and staff of an institution for the criminally insane. The third season, subtitled Coven, takes place in New Orleans, Louisiana, during the year 2013, and follows a coven of witches who face off against those who wish to destroy them. The fourth season, subtitled Freak Show, takes place in Jupiter, Florida, during the year 1952, and centers around one of the few remaining American freak shows. The fifth season, subtitled Hotel, takes place in Los Angeles, California, during the year 2015, and focuses on the staff and guests of a supernatural hotel. The sixth season, subtitled Roanoke, takes place in North Carolina during the years 2014–16, and focuses on the paranormal events that take place at an isolated farmhouse haunted by the deceased Roanoke colony. The seventh season, subtitled Cult, takes place in the fictional suburb of Brookfield Heights, Michigan, during the year 2017, and centers on a cult terrorizing the residents in the aftermath of the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The eighth season, subtitled Apocalypse, takes place in the American West Coast during the year 2021, and centers around an outpost sheltering survivors from the fallout of a global nuclear holocaust.

The series is broadcast on the cable television channel FX in the United States. On August 3, 2018, the series was greenlit for a tenth season.[6]

Although reception to individual seasons has varied, American Horror Story largely has been well received by television critics, with the majority of the praise going towards the cast, particularly Jessica Lange, who won two Emmy Awards, a Golden Globe Award, and a Screen Actors Guild Award for her performances. Kathy Bates and James Cromwell each won an Emmy Award for their performances, while Lady Gaga won a Golden Globe Award. The series draws consistently high ratings for the FX network, with its first season being the most-viewed new cable series of 2011.

Contents

EpisodesEdit

SeasonTitleEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
1Murder House12October 5, 2011 (2011-10-05)December 21, 2011 (2011-12-21)
2Asylum13October 17, 2012 (2012-10-17)January 23, 2013 (2013-01-23)
3Coven13October 9, 2013 (2013-10-09)January 29, 2014 (2014-01-29)
4Freak Show13October 8, 2014 (2014-10-08)January 21, 2015 (2015-01-21)
5Hotel12October 7, 2015 (2015-10-07)January 13, 2016 (2016-01-13)
6Roanoke10September 14, 2016 (2016-09-14)November 16, 2016 (2016-11-16)
7Cult11September 5, 2017 (2017-09-05)November 14, 2017 (2017-11-14)
8ApocalypseTBASeptember 12, 2018 (2018-09-12)TBA

Murder House (2011)Edit

Set in the year 2011, the season follows the Harmons, consisting of psychiatrist Ben (Dylan McDermott), his wife Vivien (Connie Britton), and their teenage daughter Violet (Taissa Farmiga), as they move from Boston to Los Angeles to make a fresh start after Vivien's miscarriage led to Ben having an affair with one of his students, which almost tore their family apart. They move into a restored mansion and soon encounter the residence's housekeeper, Moira O'Hara (Frances Conroy and Alexandra Breckenridge), as well as their neighbors – the eccentric Langdon family consisting of Constance (Jessica Lange) and her daughter Adelaide (Jamie Brewer). The Harmons' lives are troubled by the meddling Langdons, the incompetent realtor Marcy (Christine Estabrook), as well as by the disfigured Larry Harvey (Denis O'Hare), a former resident of the mansion who is secretly in love with Constance, and the scorned Hayden McClaine (Kate Mara), Ben's student who follows him to Los Angeles and is pregnant from their affair. Ben and Vivien try to rekindle their relationship as Violet, suffering from depression, finds comfort with Tate (Evan Peters), the ghost of Constance's psychopathic son. The family soon discovers that the home is haunted by the ghosts of anyone who has ever died on the property, including its creators Charles (Matt Ross) and Nora Montgomery (Lily Rabe); and their deformed son Thaddeus (Ben Woolf). Flashbacks depict the mansion's previous homeowners throughout the last century, dating back to its construction in the 1920s. The season deals with infidelity, as well as other themes including depression, family, school violence, religion, and sexuality.

Asylum (2012–13)Edit

Set in the year 1964, the season follows the patients and staff members of the church-owned Briarcliff Manor, located in Massachusetts, which was founded to treat and house the criminally insane. Kit Walker (Evan Peters), accused of being prolific serial killer "Bloody Face" after the disappearance of his wife Alma (Britne Olford)—though he claims she was abducted by aliens—is incarcerated at Briarcliff. This piques the interest of ambitious journalist Lana Winters (Sarah Paulson), who is yearning to find a story for her big break. At Briarcliff, Kit meets the other patients, many of whom claim to be unjustly institutionalized, including microcephalic Pepper (Naomi Grossman), who was framed for her nephew's murder; nymphomaniac Shelley (Chloe Sevigny); and the unassuming Grace Bertrand (Lizzie Brocheré) from France, who appears to be harboring a deep secret of her own. Believed to be a violent serial killer, he becomes the subject of interest of pragmatic psychiatrist Oliver Thredson (Zachary Quinto) and the sadistic Dr. Arthur Arden (James Cromwell), the latter of whom routinely conducts scientific operations on patients. The institution is run under the watchful eye of the stern Sister Jude (Jessica Lange), as well as her second-in-command, the naive Sister Mary Eunice (Lily Rabe), and the founder of the institution, Monsignor Timothy Howard (Joseph Fiennes). Briarcliff's inhabitants are routinely subject to supernatural and scientific influences, including demonic possession and extraterrestrial abduction. The season mostly deals with insanity, with other themes including female sexuality, corrupt ambition, religion versus science, racism, prejudice, death, and faith.

Coven (2013–14)Edit

Set in the year 2013, the season follows the dwindling descendants of the witches who survived the Salem Witch Trials and their struggle to hide their identity in the modern world. Those who share this genetic affliction are being subjected to violent attacks from outside forces, such as religious townspeople and witch hunters. Zoe Benson (Taissa Farmiga), a young teenager completely unaware of the existence of witches, discovers her identity 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. There, she meets the other students, narcissistic film star Madison Montgomery (Emma Roberts), outspoken Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe), and enigmatic Nan (Jamie Brewer), and gets romantically entangled with Kyle Spencer (Evan Peters), a non-witch and good-natured college student. The school is run by headmistress Cordelia Foxx (Sarah Paulson), head of the Witches Council and eccentric fashionista Myrtle Snow (Frances Conroy), and the mute butler Spalding (Denis O'Hare). Cordelia's mother, Fiona Goode (Jessica Lange), is the Supreme and most powerful witch of her generation, though she regularly avoids her responsibilities, much to the chagrin of Cordelia and her long-time rival Myrtle. After a mob of townspeople discover and nearly kill a young witch living in the swamps named Misty Day (Lily Rabe), Fiona returns to the school to ensure the safety of the other young witches, but also to fulfill her own hidden agenda. Events reveal a long-held rivalry between the witches of Salem and the voodoo practitioners of New Orleans, as well as a historic grudge between Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau (Angela Bassett) and socialite serial killer Delphine LaLaurie (Kathy Bates). This season mostly deals with oppression, with other themes including witchcraft, voodoo, racism, prejudice, death, and the relationships between mothers and daughters.

Freak Show (2014–15)Edit

Set in the year 1952, the season follows a struggling freak show led by Elsa Mars (Jessica Lange) in the quiet town of Jupiter, Florida. Decades have passed since the public has looked upon freak shows as a form of entertainment, but Elsa dreams of finding a home for her "monsters", as well as for her own fame and fortune. Other members of her troupe include Jimmy Darling (Evan Peters), a boy born with syndactyly who dreams of living a normal life, and his mother Ethel (Kathy Bates), a bearded lady who is Elsa's second-in-command by maintaining law and order under the tent. A strongman from Ethel's troubled past named Dell Toledo (Michael Chiklis), and his three-breasted wife Desiree Dupree (Angela Bassett), make waves when they arrive to join the freak show. 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 for her show. In a time when the era of television is beginning to reign high above sideshow acts, these individuals must overcome those who persecute them based on their looks. However, as events unfold, it is revealed that multiple dark entities have taken up residence in Jupiter, with all of their eyes being set on the freaks. A conman named Stanley (Denis O'Hare), posing as a Hollywood executive, arrives with his young protege Maggie Esmerelda (Emma Roberts), with the intention of murdering the freaks and sending their bodies to a museum for profit. The wealthy and spoiled Dandy Mott (Finn Wittrock), enabled by his doting mother Gloria (Frances Conroy), develops an unhealthy obsession with the freaks, particularly Bette and Dot. Perhaps most dangerous of all is a mysterious, deformed killer clown, only known as Twisty (John Carroll Lynch), who wreaks havoc among the town and appears to be targeting freaks and townspeople alike. This season mostly deals with discrimination, with other themes including ableism, prejudice, acceptance, exploitation, entertainment, television, and medical oddities.

Hotel (2015–16)Edit

Set in the year 2015, the season follows the strange and dangerous happenings that seem to center around the retro Hotel Cortez in downtown Los Angeles, California, initially built as a secret torture chamber to fulfill the violent desires of founder James March (Evan Peters). 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. He has become estranged from his wife Alex (Chloe Sevigny), who suffers from depression, and his daughter Scarlett (Shree Crooks), after the disappearance of their son Holden (Lennon Henry). As the season unfolds, the Lowes discover that the disappearance of Holden may be related to the strange activities at the hotel, led by March's fashionista widow Elizabeth Johnson (Lady Gaga), also known as the Countess—who was turned into a vampire by her former lovers, actor Rudolph Valentino (Finn Wittrock) and his wife Natacha Rambova (Alexandra Daddario)—and her current lover Donovan (Matt Bomer). Throughout his investigation, John also becomes entangled with the spirits of heroin junkie named Sally (Sarah Paulson), hotel maid Hazel Evers (Mare Winningham), and James March, who is looking for a protege to continue the violent acts he started when he was alive. The hotel's tireless staff includes the surly front desk manager Iris (Kathy Bates), Donovan's mother who took the job to be close to her son, and her best friend, the transgender bartender Liz Taylor (Denis O'Hare), both of whom hesitantly cater to Elizabeth and her vampiric children. Elizabeth's relationship with Donovan becomes troubled with the arrival of male model and cocaine addict Tristan Duffy (Wittrock), New York fashion designer Will Drake (Cheyenne Jackson), and her scorned ex-lover Ramona Royale (Angela Bassett), all of whom become entangled in her violent life. This season mostly deals with addiction, with other themes including sexuality, insanity, revenge, debauchery, religion, sin, drug use, forgiveness, and death.

Roanoke (2016)Edit

Set in the years 2014-2016, 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 1580s disappearance. In 2015, Shelby Miller (Lily Rabe), her husband Matt (André Holland), along with Matt's sister Lee Harris (Adina Porter) recount their harrowing experience living in the farmhouse a year prior in a popular documentary series titled My Roanoke Nightmare, including their encounters with the ghosts of the house's previous residents, the violent ghosts of the Roanoke Colony, the cannibalistic Polk family who live nearby, and the beautiful, yet terrifying Celtic goddess, Scáthach (Lady Gaga). The documentary becomes a huge success, featuring dramatic reenactments of the Millers' story starring Audrey Tindall (Sarah Paulson) as Shelby, Dominic Banks (Cuba Gooding Jr.) as Matt, Monet Tumusiime (Angela Bassett) as Lee, Agnes Mary Winstead (Kathy Bates) as Thomasin White, leader of the ghost colony, Audrey's husband Rory Monahan (Evan Peters) as Edward Philippe Mott, the creator and first owner of the house, William van Henderson (Denis O'Hare) as Dr. Elias Cunningham, a professor who becomes entranced with the paranormal happenings of the area, and Dylan (Wes Bentley) as Ambrose White, Thomasin's son and accomplice. 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, Sidney Aaron James (Cheyenne Jackson), who invites the Millers, as well as many of the reenactment actors, to return to the farmhouse for three days, where all their actions will be captured by hidden cameras. Although the Millers are aware of the entities that reside in the house, all three agree to return, each with their own agenda. The production eventually descends into disaster, however, as cast and crew alike are quickly targeted when the violent entities begin to surface. This season mostly deals with exploitation, with other themes including reality, fame, motherhood, family, drug abuse, publicity, revenge, the media, and television.

Cult (2017)Edit

Set in the year 2017, the fictional town of Brookfield Heights, Michigan, is left divided upon the wake of Donald Trump's presidential election. Local restaurant owner Ally Mayfair-Richards (Sarah Paulson) is left utterly distraught, along with her wife Ivy (Alison Pill). Despite the help of her psychiatrist, Dr. Rudy Vincent Anderson (Cheyenne Jackson), Ally becomes increasingly unstable in the following weeks, her long repressed phobias begin to re-emerge, and they begin to affect her relationships with her wife as well as their son Oz (Cooper Dodson). Across town, misogynistic alt-righter Kai Anderson (Evan Peters) rejoices at the election results, enticing him to pursue political power by running for city council, led by Bebe Babbitt (Frances Conroy), an old-school feminist, with the help of his reluctant, liberal sister Winter (Billie Lourd), who was also hired by the Mayfair-Richards household as their nanny. As Ally attempts to adjust to regular life despite her growing anxiety and paranoia, she becomes terrorized by a group of masked assailants 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. Kai's faithful followers include Ally's eccentric neighbors Harrison (Billy Eichner) and Meadow Wilton (Leslie Grossman), newscast reporter Beverly Hope (Adina Porter), rogue detective Jack Samuels (Colton Haynes), as well as local grocery cashier Gary K. Longstreet (Chaz Bono). With Kai's rise to power revealing sinister motives, Ally starts to draw connections between her alleged clown attackers and the many strange incidents occurring in Brookfield Heights. She begins to fear that everyone in town is out to get her, amplifying her growing distrust of those around her, especially her neighbors. This season mostly deals with marginalization, with other themes including politics, government, conspiracies, the media, fear, mental health, power, disenfranchisement, revenge, sexism, clowns, and oppression.

Apocalypse (2018)Edit

In the year 2020, nuclear holocaust breaks out and results in the collapse of human civilization. Billionaire-heiress Coco St. Pierre Vanderbilt (Leslie Grossman), her personal assistant Mallory (Billie Lourd), hairstylist Mr. Gallant (Evan Peters) and Gallant's grandmother Evie (Joan Collins) board a private jet and are taken to a secret underground bunker known as Outpost 3, where they meet fellow survivors Dinah Stevens (Adina Porter), Andre (Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman), Timothy Campbell (Kyle Allen) and Emily (Ash Santos). Wilhelmina Venable (Sarah Paulson) and Miriam Mead (Kathy Bates) run the Outpost with an iron fist, punishing its residents for all manners of indiscretions, including unauthorized copulation. After 18 months, Emily and Timothy, who were selected by the "Cooperative" for their unique genetic makeup, have established a secret relationship, and along with the other survivors are living off a single gelatinous cube of nutrients per day. Before long, Michael Langdon (Cody Fern), the Antichrist, arrives at the Outpost to evaluate the necessity of its survivors, and lead the valuable ones to the "Sanctuary". It is soon that the Outpost is shaken up by the arrival of Cordelia Goode, Madison Montgomery (Emma Roberts) and Myrtle Snow (Frances Conroy) as well as the other Coven witches, Zoe (Taissa Farmiga), Misty (Lily Rabe) and Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe). Their arrival not only changes the course of the season but also provides the background and events leading up to the apocalypse, with the inclusion of characters from Murder House. This season primarily focuses on hierarchy as well as themes of power, witchcraft, death, family, war and relationships.

Future seasonsEdit

On January 12, 2017, the series was renewed for a ninth season, with a two-season renewal alongside Apocalypse.[7] Subsequently, on August 3, 2018, the series was renewed for a tenth season.[8]

ProductionEdit

ConceptionEdit

What you saw in the finale was the end of the Harmon house. The second season of the show will be a brand-new home or building to haunt. Just like this year, every season of this show will have a beginning, middle and end. [The second season] won't be in L.A. It will obviously be in America, but in a completely different locale.

– Murphy on the series' anthology format[9]

Creators Murphy and Falchuk began working on American Horror Story before their Fox series Glee began production. Murphy wanted to do the opposite of what he had done previously and thus began his work on the series. He stated: "I went from Nip/Tuck to Glee, so it made sense that I wanted to do something challenging and dark. And I always had loved, as Brad had, the horror genre. So it just was a natural for me."[10] Falchuk was intrigued by the idea of putting a different angle on the horror genre, stating that their main goal in creating the series was to scare viewers. "You want people to be a little bit off balance afterwards," he said.[11]

In February 2011, FX officially announced that it had ordered a pilot for a possible series from Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk, with both Murphy and Falchuk writing and Murphy directing. Dante Di Loreto was announced as executive producer. Production on the series began in April 2011.[12] In July 2011, FX officially announced the project had been picked up to series.[13]

From the beginning, Murphy and Falchuk planned that each season of the series would tell a different story.[9] After the first season finale aired, Murphy spoke of his plans to change the cast and location for the second season.[14] He did say, however, that some actors who starred in the first season would be returning. "The people that are coming back will be playing completely different characters, creatures, monsters, etc. [The Harmons'] stories are done. People who are coming back will be playing entirely new characters," he announced.[9] In November 2012, FX chief executive, John Landgraf, described the unique format of the series stating: "[T]he notion of doing an anthological series of miniseries with a repertory cast – has proven groundbreaking, wildly successful and will prove to be trendsetting."[15]

At the 2013 PaleyFest, Falchuk compared the series to horror films: "It does demand a little bit of compassion at the end because you fall in love with these characters in a different way than you would in a movie," he said. "If you want to kill everybody in a movie except one person, you can kind of get away with that, but if you're looking to do a horror TV show, you have a different responsibility to the characters because the audience has a different affection for them."[16]

Murphy then explained the process of planning a series' season takes about a year. "We come up with story first and then we come up with the characters," he said. "It is a repertory company, so we'll move people around and sometimes there won't yet be a role for somebody. Like when we started [the second season], I really had no idea that Dylan [McDermott] would be the person to play Sarah's son, but the deeper we got, I thought, that would work great."[16]

In an August 2015 article for Entertainment Weekly, Murphy revealed that the show is mulling producing two seasons a year. The first being broadcast in the spring and the second in the fall. He explained, "We're doing something that we've never done before on the show where we're doing two different groups of writers rooms. Some of our writers will be bouncing around but a whole different group coming in late August. The next thing we’re crafting up is very, very different than [Hotel]. Not smaller. But just not opulent. More rogue and more dark."[17]

CastingEdit

Connie Britton was first to be cast in the series, portraying female lead Vivien Harmon on Murder House.[18] Denis O'Hare joined second as Larry Harvey.[19] Jessica Lange soon followed as Constance, her first regular role on television.[20] Dylan McDermott joined the cast soon after Lange as the male lead Ben Harmon.[21] Taissa Farmiga and Evan Peters were the last actors to be added to the main cast, portraying Violet Harmon and Tate Langdon, respectively.[22]

In March 2012, Murphy revealed that the second season had been planned around Jessica Lange, who portrays Sister Jude, a sadistic nun who runs the asylum.[23] Evan Peters, Sarah Paulson, Lily Rabe and Zachary Quinto also return, with the latter three joining the main cast.[24] Peters portrays Kit Walker, an inmate accused of murdering his wife.[25] Paulson portrays Lana, a lesbian reporter who gets committed to the asylum because of her sexuality and intent to snoop around the sanitarium.[26] Rabe's character is Sister Mary Eunice, clumsy second-in-charge to Sister Jude.[27] Quinto portrays Dr. Thredson, a psychiatrist at the asylum.[28][29] Lizzie Brocheré stars as Grace Bertrand, a character described originally as "a fierce, ferocious, extremely sexual, and dangerous wild-child sexpot", but the role was later heavily revamped.[30][31] James Cromwell co-stars as Dr. Arthur Arden, who proclaims to be in charge of the asylum and performs dark experiments on its patients.[32][33][34] Joseph Fiennes starred as Monsignor Timothy Howard, a possible love interest for Sister Jude.[34][35][36]

For the third season, series executive producers and co-creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk stated that, as with the second season, "many actors" would return in different roles, beginning with Jessica Lange.[37] Evan Peters and Sarah Paulson were confirmed to return, portraying Kyle Spencer and Cordelia Foxx, respectively. Murphy added that Lange would portray a "real glamour-cat lady", later revealed to be named Fiona Goode.[38] Taissa Farmiga, Violet in the first season, starred as Zoe Benson, a character that is involved in a prominent romance during the season.[39] Lily Rabe co-starred as Misty Day.[40] Recurring cast member Frances Conroy joined as a main cast member, playing the character of Myrtle Snow.[39] Oscar-winning actress Kathy Bates was confirmed to co-star. It was first reported that she would portray "a woman who, at the start, is Lange's character's best friend, but will become her worst enemy", but this was altered.[41] Murphy stated that Bates' character will be "five times worse than [her] Misery character" and is also inspired by a "true event". She portrayed Madame Delphine LaLaurie, an immortal racist.[42] It was announced in May 2013 that Emma Roberts had been added to the cast. Roberts played Madison Montgomery, a "self-involved party girl".[43] In July 2013, season one alum Denis O'Hare also joined the cast in an unknown role,[44] later revealed as Spalding.

In November 2013, Ryan Murphy confirmed that Jessica Lange would be returning for a fourth season, although in a reduced capacity. It was later revealed she would be playing Freak Show owner Elsa Mars.[45] Kathy Bates returned in a main role, portraying bearded lady Ethel Darling.[46] On March 29, 2014, Murphy announced that Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters, Frances Conroy, Emma Roberts, Denis O'Hare, and Angela Bassett would all return for the fourth season.[47] Paulson portrayed conjoined sisters Bette and Dot Tattler; Peters portrayed "Lobster Boy" Jimmy Darling; Conroy played the well-off Gloria Mott; Bassett portrayed three-breasted hermaphrodite Desiree Dupree; and O'Hare played Stanley, a conman working with Roberts' Maggie Esmerelda. At PaleyFest 2014, it was revealed that Michael Chiklis would be joining the cast as Dell Toledo, the father of Jimmy, ex-husband of Ethel, and current husband of Desiree.[48] Finn Wittrock later joined the main cast as Gloria's spoiled son, Dandy Mott.

For the series' fifth cycle, singer-songwriter Lady Gaga was announced as the first and newest main cast member on February 25, 2015.[49] After a special guest appearance on the previous season, Matt Bomer joined the fifth season's cast along with series newcomer Cheyenne Jackson during PaleyFest 2015.[50] Chloë Sevigny and Wes Bentley were promoted as main cast members, after they appear as recurring special guests in Asylum and Freak Show respectively.[51] Murphy later announced the returns of Kathy Bates, Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters and Angela Bassett.[52] In June 2015, it was announced Denis O'Hare would also return for the fifth season.[53] In August 2015, Murphy announced the character roles for the cast: Gaga's Elizabeth Johnson also known as "The Countess", a fashionista vampire who owns the Hotel Cortez; Jackson's Will Drake, a desperate fashion designer; O'Hare's Liz Taylor, a transgender bartender who works at the hotel's Blue Parrot Lounge bar; Sevigny's Alex Lowe, a pediatrician who was the wife of Bentley's John Lowe, a detective who investigates the murders inside the hotel; Bomer's Donovan, the lover to the Countess whom often had conflict with his mother and hotel manager, Bates' Iris; Bassett's Ramona Royale, a former actress who was the former lover of Elizabeth; Paulson's Sally, a drug addict who had a rivalry with Iris and forms a bond with John since his visit in the hotel.[54] Peters co-starred as serial killer James Patrick March and the original hotelier of the Hotel Cortez.

In February 2016, Angela Bassett confirmed she would return to join the main cast of the sixth season during an interview with Larry King.[55] Denis O'Hare announced that he will also appear in the season in a May 2016 interview.[56] In June 2016, Cheyenne Jackson, Evan Peters, Wes Bentley, and Kathy Bates announced their returns for the sixth season.[57][58][59] In August 2016, Sarah Paulson announced that she would return to the series in the sixth season and Ryan Murphy announced that Oscar winner Cuba Gooding Jr. had joined the main cast.[60][61] In September 2016, the full main cast was announced after the first episode with the inclusion of André Holland and returning series veteran Lily Rabe.[62] On Halloween 2016, Murphy announced that Paulson's Asylum character, Lana Winters would also appear in the series after the recent appearance of the actress' first role Billie Dean Howard from Murder House in the final episode of the fifth season.[63][64]

For the seventh season, Paulson and Peters were set to return to the series, as announced during the Winter 2017 TCA Press Tour.[65] Billie Lourd, who made her breakout appearance with Murphy in 2015, was confirmed to join the main cast in April, while Jackson was the next series regular to return in the next month.[66][67][68] In June, Alison Pill was announced to co-star in the season, portraying the partner of Paulson's character.[69]

On October 2017, Paulson announced that she'll return for the series' eighth cycle. [70] The next year, Peters was announced to appear in the main cast while Bates returned to the series after Roanoke, leading the season with Paulson.[71] Jackson confirmed he will return while Adina Porter was promoted to the series' main cast after her first appearance in Murder House as well as Leslie Grossman since Cult.[72] Lourd later returned to the main cast the next month. [73] On June, Roberts announced that she'll reprise her Coven character Madison Montgomery in the eighth season.[74] The next month, Australian actor Cody Fern was cast as the adult Michael Langdon who was last seen at the first series' final episode.[75]

FilmingEdit

The pilot episode was shot on location in a house in Country Club Park, Los Angeles, California, which serves as the haunted house and crime scene in the series. Designed and built in 1908 by Alfred Rosenheim, the president of the American Institute of Architects' Los Angeles chapter, the Tudor or Collegiate Gothic-style single family home was previously used as a convent.[76][77] The first season was filmed on sets which are an exact replica of the house.[78] Details such as Louis Comfort Tiffany stained glass windows and hammered bronze light fixtures were re-created to preserve the look of the house.[76]

Production and shooting for the second season began in late July 2012 for a scheduled premiere in mid October.[79] The exteriors for the second season were filmed in Hidden Valley, Ventura County, California, a rural area outside Los Angeles, although the season took place in Massachusetts.[80]

Principal photography for the third season began on July 23, 2013,[81] in New Orleans, Louisiana.[82][83] It was first reported that the season would film in multiple locations, but filming primarily took place in New Orleans.[84]

Principal photography for the fourth season began on July 15, 2014, in New Orleans, though the story takes place in Jupiter, Florida.

Principal photography for the fifth season began on July 14, 2015, in Los Angeles, California, where the story also takes place.[85] Murphy revealed a six-story hotel set was being built on the Fox lot. A dummy set of the hotel was built at the 2015 San Diego Comic-Con, showing an Art Deco style building from the 1920s, inspired by the old Hollywood era.[86]

Filming for the sixth season began on July 6, 2016 at Santa Clarita, California.[87] Set constructions include a colonial settler home to speculate the disappearance of the Roanoke Colony.[88]

Filming for the seventh season was originally planned to begin in Orange, California on June 2017 before it was moved to May instead.[89][90]

Filming for the eighth season is set to begin on June 16, 2018.[91]

Title sequencesEdit

American Horror Story's title screens offer vague hints to important plot elements and events that compose each season. For Murder House, Murphy described the sequence as a mini-mystery and stated that: "By the time you see the ninth episode of this season, every image in that title sequence will be explained," establishing the purpose of the title sequence for future seasons.[92]

The opening title sequence was created by Kyle Cooper and his company Prologue. He also created the title sequence for the AMC series The Walking Dead and the 1995 film Seven. The theme music was composed by sound designer Cesar Davila-Irizarry and musician Charlie Clouser.[93] The cinematography was done by Juan Ruiz Anchía and the editing by Gabriel J. Diaz.

For Murder House, the sequence is set in the Harmons' basement and includes images of postmortem young children, fetuses in jars, skulls, a christening dress, a nurse's uniform, and a figure holding a pair of bloody hedge clippers. A photo of alleged axe murderer Lizzie Borden is also shown.

Asylum's opening sequence is done by the same creative team. "We are shooting a new title sequence with the same team that did last year's," series creator Ryan Murphy said. "The song may stay... not sure."[94] The music was kept, and the new title sequence was set around the Asylum, using shots of inmates raving and surgeons operating on patients with bandages obscuring their faces. Elements include a young girl walking backwards on her hands and feet up a staircase and a shot of the Virgin Mary's smile changing from one of benevolence to one of spite.

Coven's opening sequence keeps the same music, and this sequence is the first one to be filmed primarily outside and not in an enclosed location. Shots include figures wearing black robes and capirotes, a bony-skeleton creature with wings and shots of dead goats, the Minotaur from the season also appears. For the first time, there are actual backgrounds that appear with the actor names instead of an all-black background, some of these images include witches hanging and Santa Muerte. Other elements include a black man with piercing eyes and a disturbing smile as well as voodoo dolls. The final shot continues after the figures in black capirotes seize one of their own who is later seen burning at a stake where young, dress-clad witches dance around.

Freak Show's opening sequence changed things up, the series theme music remains intact albeit with an added carnival-like soundscape. The sequence is composed of both CGI and stop-motion animation and features strange characters such as a skeleton chimera of a human being and an elephant riding a bicycle, a skeleton of what appears to be a single head but two bodies, a devil-like man, a boy in a wheel chair with deformed legs, a character with severe syndactyly of the hands and feet, a clown who can twist his head around, a woman with a third leg where her genitalia should be, and a demonic cymbal-banging monkey toy. There are also shots of side show attractions like the Human Blockhead, knife throwing and sword swallowing. The main recurring element features a balloon twister popping balloons with a knife.

Hotel's opening sequence also was very different from previous seasons', taking a more biblical approach. The font, while remaining the same as the first four seasons, glow in red against a hotel wallpaper. The Ten Commandments are also shown throughout the video. The intro returns to live-action like the first three seasons. Visuals include many people scrubbing blood all over the walls and the floor, strange things shown through peepholes, people being victims to the hotel, little kids running around the hotel, as well as many different creatures.[95]

Roanoke featured no title sequence or opening credits, instead opting for a simple title card from the first season, Murder House, while the series theme music plays over the end credits. At the end of the finale's credits, the title of the season "American Horror Story: Roanoke" was revealed.

In the development of Cult, Murphy confirmed that the opening sequence will return. Cult's opening sequence features the series theme music played by a marching band. The sequence is live-action. Visuals include: a gang of clowns rises from a casket, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton masks, a George Washington statue, a dead dog killed by toxic gas, a Merry Go Round, bloody hands that cannot be washed, beehive, toxic smoke released from a grenade, holes in several forms, bloody US flag with sound of a xylophone playing The Star-Spangled Banner, blood covered couple having sex and a handcuffed pinky promise. Clowns also appear throughout the sequence.

Apocalypse's opening sequence features the original theme music from the first three seasons. Red and white are the main colors, visually representing Murder House and Coven. The sequence includes images of nuclear disaster and sketches of demons fusing together. Others visuals include candles burning, snakes, skulls of both humans and goats, a scorpion, a blooming flower, and photos of nuclear-testing documents. Visuals from the title sequences of both season 1 and season 3 are also included with slight alterations, including the skeletal winged creature in the forest (Coven), the nurse's blouse (Murder House), a picture of a baby that has been set on fire (Murder House), and the goat skulls (Coven). It is notable that many images are shown in reverse.

The title sequence for all seasons of the show use a variation of the Willow typeface that very closely resembles a style for which Scottish designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh was known.[96]

PromotionEdit

As part of the promotion for the series, FX launched a "House Call" campaign, in which viewers at home could sign up and come face-to-face with a character from the series.[97] Prior to the series premiere, FX released several clues to shine light on the series. They were offered on the show's official YouTube channel. Ten clues were released.[98] In September 2011, FX launched a website which allows visitors to tour the Murder House throughout the decades and look for clues.[99]

In August 2012, the first promo for the second season was released on the American Horror Story Facebook page entitled "Special Delivery", in which a nun carries a couple of buckets filled with body parts through a field. As a church bell rings, the nun empties one bucket's bloody contents, leaving the empty bucket behind, and resumes her trek.[100] Over 20 subsequent teasers were released.[101] Four photos were also released on EW.com.[102] Two televised teasers, titled "Meet the Residents", were released on August 31, 2012. They feature the patients and some staff (such as Dr. Thredson, played by Zachary Quinto, and Sister Mary Eunice, played by Lily Rabe) lying in twin beds and dealing with their individual issues as the heads of the asylum (Jessica Lange, Joseph Fiennes and James Cromwell) look on. The song "Que Sera, Sera", mixed with the show's theme music, plays.[103] To promote Cult, a competition was set up where fans who donated to the Children's Hospital Los Angeles could get a chance to get a walk-on role in an episode, and lunch with Evan Peters.[104]

Universal's Halloween Horror NightsEdit

On August 16, 2016, FX announced a deal had been struck to feature an American Horror Story exhibit at Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Orlando for their Halloween Horror Nights. The maze will feature sets and themes from Murder House, Freak Show, and Hotel. Universal said of the experience, "Twisted scenes from Murder House will unleash the evil spirits that possess the Harmon estate, spiraling guests through decades of the tortured dead who previously resided there. In Freak Show, guests will join a troupe of biological misfits in a sinister sideshow where they'll be stalked by the murderous and deformed Twisty the Clown. Finally, guests will succumb to the warped desires of The Countess after checking into the haunted Hotel Cortez, conceived from the beginning as a torture chamber for its customers."[105]

In 2017, the show returned as haunted attractions to both parks, with Universal Orlando having an attraction based on Asylum, Coven, and Roanoke, and Universal Studios Hollywood basing their attraction solely on Roanoke.

BroadcastEdit

The series premiered on October 5, 2011, and is broadcast on the cable television channel FX in the United States. In November 2011, it premiered internationally on the respective countries' Fox Networks Group. The first season premiered on October 5, 2011, and concluded on December 21, 2011. The second season premiered on October 17, 2012, and concluded on January 23, 2013. The third season premiered on October 9, 2013, and concluded on January 29, 2014. The fourth season premiered on October 8, 2014, and concluded on January 21, 2015. The fifth season premiered on October 7, 2015, and concluded on January 13, 2016. The sixth season premiered on September 14, 2016, and concluded on November 16, 2016. The seventh season premiered on September 5, 2017, and concluded on November 14, 2017. The latter three seasons premiered on the same day and same time with the American broadcasts on FX in Canada, though the first season followed a slightly different schedule as that network launched on October 31, 2011. The series is aired in India on STAR World Premiere HD shortly after its U.S. airing. Along with it, it airs on FX India on standard definition and Fox in UK and Ireland in October 2011.

ReceptionEdit

Critical responseEdit

Season Critical response
Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic
Murder House 73% (39 reviews) 62 (30 reviews)
Asylum 84% (44 reviews) 65 (23 reviews)
Coven 84% (35 reviews) 71 (24 reviews)
Freak Show 79% (34 reviews) 69 (19 reviews)
Hotel 64% (48 reviews) 60 (24 reviews)
Roanoke 76% (14 reviews) 72 (9 reviews)
Cult 73% (46 reviews) 66 (24 reviews)
Apocalypse 93% (62 reviews) 63 (6 reviews)

The first season of American Horror Story: Murder House received generally positive reviews from critics. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported that 74% of 38 critics gave the first season a positive review. The site's consensus stated: "Convoluted yet effective, American Horror Story is strange, gory, and twisted enough to keep viewers hooked."[106] The first season scored 62 out of 100 on Metacritic based on 30 reviews.[107] Ken Tucker from Entertainment Weekly awarded the pilot episode a B+, stating: "AHS is pretty much all scare, all the time: a whole lotta screams, sex, jolts, mashed faces, psychotic behavior, and dead babies."[108] Hank Stuever from The Washington Post said in his review that: "Overdoing things is one of Murphy's trademark flaws, but this show has a captivating style and giddy gross-outs."[109] Not all reviews were favorable: Alan Sepinwall of HitFix gave the series a D−, saying: "It is so far over the top that the top is a microscopic speck in its rearview mirror, and so full of strange sounds, sights and characters that you likely won't forget it – even though many of you will wish you could."[110] Sepinwall would later go on to call it one of the worst TV shows of 2011.[111] The Los Angeles Times' Mary McNamara gave it a mixed review, stating that it "collapses into camp... upon more than one occasion" but also noting that it is "hard to look away."[112]

The second season, American Horror Story: Asylum, received mostly positive reviews from critics. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported that 84% of 43 critics gave the season a positive review. The site's consensus is: "American Horror Story: Asylum crosses boundaries to shock and scare with sexy subplots and some innovative takes on current social issues."[113] It scored 65 out of 100 on Metacritic based on 23 reviews.[114] James Poniewozik from Time stated: "AHS: Asylum feels like a more focused, if equally frenetic, screamfest. It's also gorgeously realized, with a vision of its '60s institution setting so detailed you can smell the stale air and incense."[115] Maureen Ryan of The Huffington Post said: "It's to the credit of Asylum's writers, directors and cast that the emotional pain of the characters often feels as real as their uncertainty and terror."[116] Verne Gay from Newsday gave the season a C grade, stating it "has some good special effects, just not much of a story to hang them on."[117] Linda Stasi of the New York Post thought the season was "over the top," adding: "I need to enter [an asylum] myself after two hours of this craziness."[118]

The third season, American Horror Story: Coven, received positive reviews. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported that 84% of 34 critics gave the season a positive review. The site's consensus reads: "A noteworthy ensemble cast combined with creepy storytelling and campy, outrageous thrills make American Horror Story: Coven a potently structured fright-fest."[119] It scored 71 out of 100 on Metacritic based on 24 reviews, the highest score for the show to that point. Not all reviews were positive, however, with criticism focused mainly in regards to the progression of both the story and certain character arcs in the second half of the season. The A.V. Club gave this season the low rating of a D+, with critic Todd Van DerWerff remarking: "It lurched drunkenly from idea to idea, never settling on one long enough to build anything of worth."[120]

The fourth season, American Horror Story: Freak Show, received mostly positive reviews. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 79% of 32 critics gave the season a positive review. The site's consensus is: "Though it may turn off new viewers unaccustomed to its unabashed weirdness, Freak Show still brings the thrills, thanks to its reliably stylish presentation and game cast."[121] It scored 69 out of 100 on Metacritic based on 19 "generally favorable" reviews.[122]

The fifth season, American Horror Story: Hotel, received mixed to positive reviews from critics. Rotten Tomatoes reports that 63% of 43 critics gave the season a positive review. The site's consensus is: "Favoring garish style over effective storytelling, the fifth American Horror Story strands a talented cast at Ryan Murphy's Hotel." Audience reception on the same website was also mixed, with 57% of viewers giving the show a favorable review.[123] Hotel scored a 60 out of 100 on Metacritic based on 24 "mixed or average" reviews.[124]

The sixth season, American Horror Story: Roanoke, received positive reviews from critics. Rotten Tomatoes reports that 78% of 13 critics gave the season a positive review. The site's consensus is: "American Horror Story: My Roanoke Nightmare takes a surprising turn away from prior AHS formats, revisiting the deliberate pace of earlier seasons on a spookier, smaller scale, even if the true-crime format feels overdone."[125] It scored a 72 on Metacritic based on six reviews.[126]

The seventh season, American Horror Story: Cult, received generally positive reviews from critics. Rotten Tomatoes reports that 73% of 47 critics gave the season a positive review. The site's consensus is: "American Horror Story: Cult intrigues with timely, over-the-top creepiness – and lots of clowns – despite being hampered by broad political generalizations and occasional holes in the narrative's logic."[127] It scored a 66 on Metacritic based on 24 "generally favorable" reviews.[128]

The eighth season, American Horror Story: Apocalypse, received positive reviews from critics. Rotten Tomatoes reports that 93% of 105 critics gave the season a positive review.[129] It scored a 63 on Metacritic based on 6 "generally favorable" reviews.[130]

Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk have been credited with creating a series that increases both the LGBT creators and storylines in the industry. Harriet Earle has stated that they utilize "the formal structure of the serialized anthology...to present serial narratives made by and about 'queers,' openly subverting gender and sexual norms that define the majority of television".[131]

RatingsEdit

The pilot episode of American Horror Story was watched by 3.2 million viewers and averaged a 1.6 rating in the 18–49 years adult demographic, the most sought after by advertisers.[132] These were the best numbers FX had ever received for a series premiere.[133] The episode was seen by 3.2 million total viewers in 59 countries.[134] Ratings increased as the season progressed, with the season finale being watched by 3.22 million viewers and receiving a 1.7 ratings share in the 18–49 years adult demographic.[135] The series premiere aired in November 2011 across Europe and Latin America on Fox International Channels, and ranked as first or second most watched telecast in its timeslot among all paid television in most metered markets.[134] "Numbers so strong, it's scary. American Horror Story has brought droves of new viewers to a killer global lineup", said Hernan Lopez, the president of Fox International Channels.[134]

The second season's premiere gained a 2.2 18–49 ratings share and gathered 3.85 million viewers,[136] marking the highest numbers for the series.[137] By the season's sixth episode, the numbers dropped to a series-low 0.9 18–49 ratings share and 1.89 million viewers;[138] however, they rebounded to above two million viewers for the subsequent episodes,[139][140] and reached 2.29 million viewers for the season's finale.[141] The premiere of the fifth season of the series became the second most-watched telecast in the network's history, only behind the premiere episode of the previous season, which was watched by 6.13 million viewers.[142] The show was subsequently renewed for another season; John Landgraf, the CEO of the network, commented on the show's success by saying that American Horror Story, the network's highest rated series, "has unquestionably joined the ranks of television's landmark series."[143] In 2016, a New York Times study of the 50 TV shows with the most Facebook Likes found that "unlike a lot of shows about the supernatural", American Horror Story was "more popular in cities, but also throughout parts of the Southwest".[144]

Season Timeslot (ET) Episodes First aired Last aired TV season Avg. viewers
(millions)
Date Viewers
(millions)
Date Viewers
(millions)
1 Wednesday 10:00 p.m. 12 October 5, 2011 3.18 December 21, 2011 3.22 2011–12 2.82
2 13 October 17, 2012 3.85 January 23, 2013 2.29 2012–13 2.53
3 13 October 9, 2013 5.54 January 29, 2014 4.24 2013–14 4.00
4 13 October 8, 2014 6.13 January 21, 2015 3.27 2014–15 3.85
5 12 October 7, 2015 5.81 January 13, 2016 2.24 2015–16 2.89
6 10 September 14, 2016 5.14 November 16, 2016 2.45 2016–17 2.93
7 Tuesday 10:00 p.m. 11 September 5, 2017 3.93 November 14, 2017 1.97 2017–18 2.22
8 Wednesday 10:00 p.m. TBA September 12, 2018 3.08 TBA TBD 2018–19 TBA

AccoladesEdit

American Horror Story has won 73 of its 303 award nominations. The franchise has garnered 28 Primetime Emmy Award nominations, with Jessica Lange winning for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie and for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie, James Cromwell winning for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie, and Kathy Bates winning for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie. It received an additional 50 Creative Arts Emmy Award nominations, winning eleven times, including Outstanding Hairstyling for a Miniseries or a Movie, Outstanding Costumes for a Miniseries, Movie, or Special, Outstanding Sound Editing for a Miniseries, Movie, or Special, and Outstanding Prosthetic Makeup for a Series, Limited Series, Movie or a Special.[145] It has received nine Golden Globe Award nominations, with Lange winning for Best Supporting Actress in a Series, Miniseries or Television Film,[146] and Lady Gaga winning for Best Actress in a Miniseries or Television Film.[147] The series has also received three Screen Actors Guild Award nominations, with Lange winning for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series.[148] Additional accolades include eighteen Critics' Choice Television Awards nominations, with four wins,[149] the GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding TV Miniseries,[150] four Costume Designers Guild Awards nominations, winning three times,[151] eight wins out of ten nominations at the Make-Up Artists and Hair Stylists Guild,[152] five People's Choice Awards nominations, winning once,[153] and eleven Satellite Awards nomination, with three wins.[154]

Spin-offEdit

On October 7, 2014, it was announced that FX had ordered a 10-episode spin-off[155] titled American Crime Story, developed by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski.[156] While each season of American Horror Story focuses on a new horror theme, each season of American Crime Story focuses on a new true crime story. The series features American Horror Story cast members Sarah Paulson, Connie Britton, Cuba Gooding Jr., Finn Wittrock and Cody Fern.

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  154. ^ American Horror Story's Satellite Awards nominations and wins:
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External linksEdit