I’m certainly not an expert on many things, but I am when it comes to horror. I can remember when I was 12 years old, wandering the horror section of our local video rental shop, trying to find something new, something that could make my skin crawl. My taste has just gotten more and more messed up as the years have gone by, and when I found out there was an anthology series that covered different aspects of horror with every season, I was all over it. Here are all of the seasons of American Horror Story, ranked, from best to worst. I won’t be including 1984, as we’re only two episodes in. Also, I’m going to do my best not to spoil anything.
*Cue the lala’s*
I know, witches aren’t inherently scary to the seasoned horror fanatic, but damn, Coven was fun! Coven was the third season of AHS and the show had really found its footing by this point. This season was all about history, bitches, and backstabbing, Set in New Orleans, the season begins by focusing on the young Zoe Benson, played by Taissa Farmiga, who has just found out, in the most horrifying way, that she’s a witch, and has to go and learn how to control her powers at Miss Robichaux’s Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies aka all girls Hogwarts. Once there we learn about what a Supreme is, the history of Marie Laveau, and how to bring a boy back from the dead. I honestly can’t go on enough about how much I loved this season.
2. Freak Show
I really had to give this one a few shots before I really got into it. The first episode kind of drags on, but if you can make it through, and get to episode three, you’ll be glad you did. Freak Show is about just that, an old carnival freak show, complete with bearded lady, conjoined twins, a strong man, and more. But the show has gone on past its prime. In 1952, freak shows were a thing of the past, and the residents of Jupiter, Florida aren’t too keen on the one that has just moved into town. Lead by Elsa Mars, played by the amazingly talented Jessica Lange, the freak show is struggling to stay relevant. Hell, it’s struggling to just stay, as their landlord is about to evict them. Elsa then stumbles across a pair of conjoined twins in the local hospital and brings them back to the freak show to be their new headliners, to bring in more business. This season is packed with a murderous clown, a deranged socialite (more like sociopath), and a truly frightening performance from Neil Patrick Harris.
Oh yes, the new wave vibes! This season felt so ethereal to me. Hotel was basically the answer to: What would happen if Elizabeth Bathory lived in a sleazy Los Angeles hotel with a new wave soundtrack playing on a loop in the background? Hotel centered on cop John Lowe, who is on the hunt for a serial killer who bases all of his murders on the Ten Commandments. The case leads him to the Hotel Cortez, a seedy LA hotel filled with ghosts and vampires. This season was bloody and sexy, with some serious 80’s vibes.
Asylum was the second season of AHS and I really can’t believe how good it was. Sarah Paulson plays a closeted lesbian named Lana Winters, a journalist trying to get the inside scoop on the local mental institution, Briarcliff Manor, and in doing so, gets locked up there as a patient, by the power hungry Sister Jude, played by Jessica Lange. Paulson is amazing at making you feel her hopelessness, her despair, as she tries to think up various ways to escape and get back to her partner. There’s so much more to this season than what initially meets the eye. There are serial killers, a mad Nazi doctor, and even a little demonic possession.
Here come the torches and pitchforks. Widely regarded as the worst season of the series, Roanoke was a classic haunted farmhouse story, told in documentary format. I actually really liked this season. It had some really solid scares and some great gross out moments. Roanoke was about Shelby and *in Sarah Paulson’s screaming voice* MAATTTT!!! Seriously, I swear, Sarah Paulson screaming Matt’s name must have taken up half the damn script. Matt and Shelby are played in the real life by Andre Holland and Lily Rabe, and in the documentary by actors Dominic Banks, played by Cuba Gooding Jr., and Audrey Tindall, played by Sarah Paulson. Yes, I know, that was confusing, but give the season a shot and you’ll see what I mean. Anyway, Matt and Shelby buy this old, giant farmhouse (mansion) and soon after, they start to see ghosts. This was the first season to actually scare me, so even if it’s not popular with the masses, I enjoyed it.
6. Murder House
This is where it all began. Murder House is about a family who moves across the country, to a big, old, beautiful house in LA, just to find that the house is haunted. Really, haunted feels like an understatement. There are seriously SO MANY ghosts in this house. And to make things even more unpleasant, they have a racist, southern neighbor named Constance, played by Jessica Lange, who likes to break in on occasion to steal things. Fun!
This was the first attempt at a crossover season, rather than just the old anthology format. On first viewing, I really hated this season, but I recently rewatched it once it got to Netflix, and it honestly wasn’t half bad. This season was a crossover between Murder House and Coven, and told the story of Michael Langdon, the Antichrist baby from the end of Murder House, and what happens when he goes up against the witches from Coven, in a battle to save the world. The biggest problem I had with it was the lackluster ending, but it’s still a solid season.
I have a love/hate relationship with Cult. The acting was incredible. The writing was amazing. But it was too realistically scary for me. I have issues with anxiety, and this season is all about brutal reality, not the supernatural. Evan Peters is amazingly terrifying as Kai, who uses manipulation to become the leader of a cult that terrorizes a suburban Michigan area after the 2016 election. This season really delves into anxiety and phobias and it really got to me in a way that I can’t describe, which is why I’m not sure if I loved or hated it.
There you have it, folks! American Horror Story, from best to worst. What was your favorite season?