While undeniably a great show all around, there can be no argument that some seasons are better than others.
One of the greatest things about "American Horror Story" is its anthology format that allows each season to focus on a different plot, each equally as horrifying as the last. While the show is without a doubt all-around entertaining and unique, it goes without saying that some seasons are better than others. In this article, I will rank all the seasons from best to worst, including the most recent addition to the show, "Apocalypse."
1. Freak Show
Freak Show is the fourth in the series and the last featuring the incredible Jessica Lange as the main character. So many different aspects make this season stand out compared to the other seasons. Because Freak Show takes place in 1952, it is able to explore the phenomenon that was "freak shows" and how they affected the people within them; it also is able to provide insight towards the effects World War II had on the U.S. This season is bolstered by the best cast that "American Horror Story" has had to date, including Angela Bassett, Kathy Bates, Finn Wittrock, and so much more. Additionally, Freak Show introduces the best villain in the show's history: Twisty the Clown. While this character does not appear for the second half of the season (thank god, I hate clowns), his impact is felt throughout the whole season, leading to him becoming a fan favorite. Overall, Freak Show is well-rounded and entertaining until the very end.
2. Murder House
Where would we be without the first season? While Murder House is noticeably tamer than its successors, it does a good job of introducing audiences to the wild ride that is "American Horror Story." There are a good amount of stories involving haunted houses that can be found within media, but none are as enticing as this season. Murder House is packed with twists that will leave your jaw on the floor throughout the entirety of your viewing. Not to mention, it features my favorite character Evan Peters has ever played on the show. It is well acted, beautifully shot, and wonderfully written. I highly recommend watching this season first, as you are bound to fall in love with it.
While Tate is my favorite character played by Evan Peters, Cult marks Evan Peters' best performance by far. Not only does he play the disturbed cult leader Kai Anderson, but he also plays a plethora of historical figures as well, including artist Andy Warhol; serial killer Charles Manson; cult leaders Jim Jones, David Koresh, and Marshall Applewhite; and even Jesus. Evan Peters irrefutably carries this season, and how he was not even nominated for Emmy for his performance is beyond my comprehension.
Cult also sees the return of Freak Show's Twisty the Clown. While many do not connect with this season due to its lack of a supernatural element, I find it quite poignant because of how relevant it is to modern fear culture. What makes Cult truly scary is the thought that the events that transpire within it could happen in real life. The only reason this season is not higher on my list is due to the inclusion of some weak plot points, as well as a lackluster ending. That being said, I found Cult extremely gripping and highly recommend it to anyone. especially to audience members who are politically engaged.
Asylum was a strong follow up to Murder House. You can't have a show that focuses on horror stories and not do a season centered on an insane asylum. The events that occur within the asylum are truly frightening, which of course makes for good entertainment. However, in my eyes, this season does come with a few faults. I was not particularly fond of the alien subplot and I found the ending weak, but these are minor hiccups in an otherwise strong season. The season takes place in 1964 and uses its diverse cast of characters to highlight prejudice in the 60's. Overall, another entertaining installment to the show.
The latest season of this show is the first to mainly feature characters from past seasons. Apocalypse focuses on the Antichrist Michael Langdon, the son of Tate Langdon and Vivien Harmon from the first season as he brings about the apocalypse. While I deeply enjoyed following the enticing main character and revisiting some of my favorite characters from past seasons, I did not find myself enjoying this season as much as previous ones.
Because Apocalypse is heavily focused on Michael, all other character appearances are fleeting, which leaves the season feeling empty. This season is merely pandering to everyone who were fans of Murder House and Coven, and feels utterly unwatchable for those who have not seen those seasons. This limited accessibility is a first in AHS's history, as the anthology format allowed anyone to watch a new season without having to view past seasons. The biggest flaw overall was how uninteresting the new characters and plot are. I was just generally bored watching this season. That being said, Cody Fern's performance is fantastic and the highlight of the entire season.
Hotel marks the first season after Jessica Lange's departure from the show and her absence is felt. The premise of the season seems interesting enough. At one time in their life, everyone has probably stayed at a sketchy hotel that seemed as if something bad had happened there. The weakness of Hotel came with the bizarre plot about vampires and truly unlikable characters. I did not feel unattached to the characters like I had in past seasons, which made my viewing experience less than desirable.
The amount of sex featured in this season was particularly redundant as well. While this show does not shy from featuring graphic sexual scenes, Hotel went over the top with the number of such scenes that ultimately did nothing to advance the plot forward. Also, this is the first and only season of AHS that I predicted the ending. What is normally so enticing about the show is how unpredictable it is, but Hotel lacked that completely and went down routes that viewers could see from a mile away. While this season featured a great deal of talented actors, including Lady Gaga, their performances alone could not save the season.
Fans of the show are probably ready to rip my head off, as this season is well known for being a fan favorite. I do understand the appeal: Coven features strong women who kick ass and look good doing it. However, for me, I just felt bored the whole season. No storyline explored felt particularly interesting and as a whole, this season was just less spooky and exhilarating compared to other seasons. I was so dissatisfied with Coven, I almost stopped watching the show altogether, which would have been a tragedy considering my favorite season, Freak Show, directly followed this one.
This season is the only season of AHS I have never finished. I was truly excited when they announced the premise for this season. I have long been fascinated by the mystery of Roanoke and I was excited to see how AHS would tackle it. For this season, they decided to try something new and simulate a reality show within the show. While it is an interesting format, it just ruined the whole experience. It left everything feeling tacky, as they focused more on the people recalling the horrors they experienced than the actual horrors themselves. This season was a huge misstep in an overall great show, and hopefully they learned from the mistake that was the format and never attempt it again.