American Horror Story (tv show)

It should be noted that I have since moved to just updating the original review, this post was originally broken into seasons. I have tried to update further seasons below the intro. Starting with newest and working back.

DETAILS:

Creator: Brad Falchuk, Ryan Murphy
Stars: Jessica Lange, Lady GagaKathy BatesAngela Bassett 
Original Network: FX
First Episode: 2011

OVERALL: A great horror series. The best part is its an anthology, if you don’t like one story come back the next year for a new one.

STORYLINE

An anthology series centering on different characters and locations, including a house with a murderous past, an insane asylum, a witch coven, a freak show, a hotel, a possessed farmhouse, a cult, and the apocalypse.

BREAKDOWN BY SEASON

SEASON 5

Worth it? Yes

Now AHS has finally hit its stride and is in that sweet spot of horror and drama.

Overall this is the best season so far that I have seen. The stories all wrap around a hotel, a countess, things that are similar to vampires, spirits and serial killers. The base idea is wrapped around a similar serial killer H.H. Holmes who owned a hotel that was sometimes called the Murder Castle in Chicago.

The real serial killer claimed at least 27 people were killed in various rooms when they checked into his hotel. Of course in traditional American Horror Story style the body count is upped by tenfold, using chutes to hide bodies, ghosts to kill guests and visits from other serial killers.

Even though the story focuses on a possible serial killer, my favorite character is Liz Taylor, played by Dennis O’hare. He as fantastic, and I found his story definitely interesting and touching.

My favorite character

Lady |Gaga made her AHS debut here, and she did well, along with Kathy Bates and the returning cast. I really didn’t have anything negative to say about this season at all.

Pros: The show finds its groove, the cast are at their best and Lady Gaga does fairly well in my first exposure to her acting.

Cons: I wish they had focused on Liz more.

The show keeps putting out good content, it doesn’t feel like they have exhausted the theme of the show yet.

SEASON 4

Worth it? Yes

Now we are getting back into the wheelhouse of horror. Some scary things, some bizarre things, and some good acting by everyone means this is a definitely better season.

This story about a freak show run by Elsa Mars, a German woman who leads the group in Jupiter Florida in the 1950s.

The story is about the Freakshow itself, the new people they meet and the subsequent background stories, a murdering clown, a possible second clown, a summoned creature and references to two other seasons of American Horror Story.

The acting is very good, there are several main characters of people who are unique, and there is Michael Chiklis (from the Shield and the Commish). There is some scary parts, and a lot of trying to figure out where a person fits in.

My only part I didn’t like was Sarah Paulson’s role. She was an excellent actress, but trying to play both twins of a Siamese twin, just didn’t work for me. However, it wasn’t Ms. Paulson’s fault, she did well, I just couldn’t buy her character for some reason.

Pros: Even better then the first three seasons, the story is fairly unique, the characters are very entertaining and Jessica Lange can sing really well.

Cons: The Siamese Sister bit didn’t work for me.

I am looking forward to Season 5, where we get to meet Lady Gaga in a role.

 

SEASON 3

Worth it? Yes

We are back for more of a return to the style of original American Horror Story: Murder House (Season 1)

I really love the anthology setup for tv series like this. It allows a complete story to be told in a season, so there is no annoying cliff hangers that are never answered. It allows a good story to be told because there is a start, middle and end, and it is especially good because if you have an idea that doesn’t work for everyone as a story, then they can come back the next season and may find something they do like.

We have gotten away from the even vague suggestions of aliens and abduction in this season. Here we are in New Orleans and the story is about a power struggle in a witch coven, while there is a war with a voudon priestess and her support with a mixing of witch hunters involved.

Almost all of the cast is back, but they have added Kathy Bates and Angela Bassett. The acting has gone up several notches, even though there are some teen witch angst (but in a AHS style) and when you have Angela Bassett, Jessica Lange and Kathy Bates all in the same room the acting just soars.

Pros: The biggest pro is the changing stories between seasons, followed by a more supernatural/witch feeling in this.

Cons: Probably a little too much focus on teen witches, I understand why they did it but I am getting close to 50 and teen witch stories don’t do it for me.

I will definitely follow up with Season 4 “Freakshow”.

 

SEASON 2

Worth it? Yes, if for nothing else but to keep you caught up for later seasons.

Not as good as season 1, but worth it if you can power through the first couple of episodes.

I don’t want to have anything too spoilerific, but the thing that hurts this season is the alien abduction subplot (and it is only a subplot and it isn’t too spoilery to mention it I promise). That is why I originally started watching this when Season 2 started years ago, but stopped after an episode. I don’t like to mix aliens and horror myself.

Instead of modern day setting with flashbacks, this season is set in the 1960s in an insane asylum (hence why they involved alien abduction at some point) with flash forwards to modern day. The timing is well paced and there are some very interesting leads. However, it was way too distracting for me with the insanity plot that I mostly endured this season.

The actors are great, almost everyone makes a comeback as a different character this season and they swapped up their roles of what they are doing. I really do like the anthology setup. There is less “horror” on a supernatural level here then cruelty and spite by those in charge (don’t worry though, it still exists) so this was a less scary story and more of a dark drama.

By the end I didn’t regret watching it. The cast acted well, the set was nice, but overall I am glad season 3 should go back to the normal “horror” story mode that this series should stick with.

Pros: The acting was great, and the storytelling in an anthology setting where each season is a different story is outstanding.

Cons: Whether or not there were alien abductions, I don’t like mixing that possibility with my horror.

 

SEASON 1

Worth it? Yes

I have to admit it was better than I expected from an American television series.

Originally the show didn’t have a name for each season, and was known only as “American Horror Story” however the name has been updated to “Murder House” to distinguish it from the seasons that follow (each named differently).

I watched this show originally when it came out for several episodes. I remembered liking it, but I don’t remember why I stopped watching.

The story itself was pretty good, they layered on many stories in the house and intertwined them. Most of the story is in current day, with flashbacks, so in that sense it is a traditional horror story. The didn’t shrink back from the season finale like I was worried.

However, the best part I think is the way the series itself is set up. Each season is a different story, but uses a lot of the same actors in different roles. I am currently finishing season 2, a fully different story, most of the same actors and the whole idea of doing the show like this actually exceeds the content of the season itself.

Pros: There are enough different substories combined with enough good actors you should be able to find something interesting.

Cons: The Murder House story itself isn’t the most unique storyline, enjoyable but not unique.

It has me bought into the show enough I will continue with the next season.

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