"American Horror Story" is a TV anthology horror series created by Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk. Each season of the show follows a different storyline and characters but maintains the same themes of horror, mystery and the supernatural. Loyal fans have been watching the series since 2011 and praise its creators for the show's unique yet gruesome plotlines.
The show has a rotating cast of actors that play different characters from season to season. Recently, it was announced that "American Horror Story" would be putting out a new season called "Delicate" and that pop culture legend Kim Kardashian would be joining the show's cast. Murphy claims that the series has the perfect role for Kardashian and that "this season is ambitious and unlike anything we have ever done."
But before we get to the next chapter in the "American Horror Story" series, I'd like to reflect on all the past seasons. So here's a ranking of each season in "American Horror Story" and how they fared with respect to critical and commercial success.
11. Season seven: "Cult" (2017)
Where to begin with this season? It was befuddling at best and lazy writing at worst. The show's attempts to be relatable by referencing politics left audiences cringing in their seats. This mistake is made time and time again, where show creators think that if they make their show as relevant as possible, viewers will eat up every second. But in fact, it had the opposite effect.
Viewers watch shows like "American Horror Story" to escape from reality, but this season brought all the anxiety from the 2016 election back to life, and its re-imagined caricatures of everyday people brought our worst nightmares to reality. And Evan Peters putting on a Cheeto face mask was just cringey.
10. Season 10: "Double Feature" (2021)
"American Horror Story" fans were desperate for this season to be released, as it had been delayed for more than a year due to the pandemic. We were sadly disappointed by the surface-level, two-installment series that couldn’t even get its main point across. One might think that one season installment would compensate for the other, but it just created a confusing mess that nobody asked for.
9. Season five: "Hotel" (2015)
Led by Lady Gaga, this season was set up for success as the singer and actress brought in a whole new line of viewership through her fame and following. Based on the infamous Cecil Hotel, this season focuses way too much on showcasing violent imagery and seriously veers off from the initial plot. The season was completely directionless and tormented viewers with endless gruesome scenes that seemed all too real and completely unnecessary.
8. Season four: "Freak Show" (2014)
This season follows a group of circus performers in the 50s led by an authoritative circus leader. With conjoined twins, a "Lobster Boy" and a bearded lady — the storyline focuses on how people who were deemed different were taken advantage of in the past. Although the story had good intentions, it flatlines quickly as the plot loses momentum. By the finale, the series left viewers exhausted and thankful that it had finally finished.
7. Season 11: "NYC" (2022)
Following the AIDs epidemic of the 80s, this season focuses on a closeted detective investigating a string of murders of gay men in the city. Although the plotline can be appreciated, it just doesn’t fit the pattern of past "American Horror Story" series and more so fits into a true crime show. The finale attempted to add shock value but was lackluster at best. This season is ultimately forgettable and feels disconnected from the rest of the show.
6. Season six: "Roanoke" (2016)
Inspired by the mysterious disappearance of the first attempted English colony in the Western Hemisphere, the season uses a mockumentary format to follow a couple moving into a fixer-upper in North Carolina. They begin to see unexplained things that eventually result in torment and death. Although the series features a lot of violence, it's subdued by the plot's many twists and turns.
This season's themes were ambitious, and while the creators didn’t hit everything on the head, you have to appreciate their imagination. Sarah Paulson, one of the main stars of "American Horror Story," revealed that the season was one of her least favorites, stating, "I just don't care about this season at all … I felt really kind of trapped by my responsibility and my contractual obligation to do 'American Horror Story.'"
5. Season eight: "Apocalypse" (2018)
"Apocalypse" was a season like no other. It brought back fan favorites, with inter-season crossovers featuring characters and storylines from "Murder House," "Coven" and "Hotel." Unlike the other seasons, it's essential that you watch the previous storylines in order to understand this one.
For "American Horror Story" fanatics, watching "Apocalypse" was like being a kid in a candy shop — it does not disappoint. The season tied up any loose ends or remaining questions that fans may have about past characters. It was a refreshing surprise after "Cult" and "Roanoke," and viewers loved "American Horror Story" alum reprising their old characters.
4. Season nine: "1984" (2019)
After many tragic seasons before this, "1984" revived viewers' love for the show all over again. "American Horror Story" was in its nostalgia era, with this season paying homage to 80s horror films that previous "American Horror Story" plots heavily relied on for inspiration.
Set in 1984 at Camp Redwood, this season places camp counselor Brooke Thompson in a slasher-themed mystery, featuring the "Night Stalker" and an escaped murderer. Some fans and viewers have called attention to the problematic nature of featuring real-life serial killer Richard Ramirez as a fictional character with supernatural powers, but others liked the real-world tie-in. The plot is slightly predictable but extremely enjoyable to watch, and the nostalgic elements made it fun.
3. Season three: "Coven" (2013)
Focusing on a school for training witches in New Orleans, this plot might seem like a lackluster reimagining of "Harry Potter" or "Sabrina The Teenage Witch," but on the contrary, it's extremely different. The witches make a community for themselves, allowing for much character development.
This season, star-studded with A-listers Jessica Lange, Angela Bassett and Kathy Bates, had a lot to live up to as a successor to the other two fantastic seasons. Although it doesn’t quite meet its expectations, in my opinion, this season is still filled with twists and turns and should be adored by many fans.
2. Season two: "Asylum" (2012)
This season veered into psychological thriller territory while maintaining signature "American Horror Story" stylistic elements. The entire season is set at Briarcliff Manor, an institution for the criminally insane. With a suspected serial killer, a nun possessed by the devil, an evil doctor and aliens, this season is not for the easily disturbed.
I was on the edge of my seat watching this season unfold. There seems to never be a peaceful break in this season, but that makes it all the better. Sophomore season "Asylum" proved to fans that "American Horror Story" was not just a one-season-wonder.
1. Season one: "Murder House" (2011)
"Murder House" is by far unmatched, and its magic could never be recreated ever again. This season was the root cause of the show's worldwide popularity and mass fandom. It tells the story of an all-American family moving from Boston to Los Angeles to start a new life after experiencing a miscarriage and an affair.
They move into a renovated mansion but quickly discover that it's haunted by the ghosts of its former residents and their victims. As they try to turn a new leaf, the family gets more entangled in the darkness of the house, which leads to a terrible series of events that only serve to highlight and remind them of the past they left behind.
The entire season was beautifully thought out and is probably one of the only seasons that truly surprises the viewer throughout, and not just for shock value. "Murder House" created an insatiable craving for more "American Horror Story" seasons despite none of them ever living up to the original.
That being said, I am looking forward to season 12 and what "American Horror Story" can still bring to the table after approximately 12 years of being on air. Time will only tell what fans will think of the newest season and where it will stand in my ranking.