American Horror Story just completed its eighth season last year, and there are more in the works. While everyone has their favorite moments, characters, and seasons, there were some that were more successful than others at keeping to a theme and telling an engaging story. AHS is an anthology series with disconnected storylines in each season, except for season eight, Apocalypse, which tied in characters from many past seasons including Hotel, Coven, and Murder House, showing that the seasons are more connected than they might have seen at first.
As American Horror Story continues to tell us weird, creepy, and scary stories, we’ve put together a list ranking the eight seasons of the show from worst to best.
Cult, season 7, is at the bottom of the list because this season was generally just a big mess. While it tried to tell some sort of story including metaphors about political ideologies, the theme and message of the season seemed forced and convoluted. Starting the season off just after the 2016 presidential election might have seemed clever, but, in fact, just seemed too heavy-handed. With mass shootings, neo-Nazi allusions, and extremist feminists, this season was all over the place. Plus, this season didn’t include any of the heavy-hitting actors in the series such as Jessica Lange or Angela Bassett. Overall, this season is one most fans would like to forget about.
7 FREAK SHOW
Freak Show is better than Cult, but not by much. While this season did feature strong performances by Jessica Lange and Angela Bassett, this season had too much going on and was confusing overall. The first episode with Twisty the Clown might have been scary and iconic, but the rest of the season wasn’t good enough or strong enough. Plus, this season might not have always handled sensitive topics that well when it comes to the members of the Freak Show. In general, this is not one of the seasons of AHS that you’d want to watch again, instead, fans were happy when it was over.
Apocalypse was sort of a mixed bag. It had some strong moments along with some very weak ones. The high points of the season included the episodes that featured the Coven witches. It was also enjoyable to see how many of the past seasons tied together and to see those connections. But, at the same time, the apocalypse event itself was kind of a letdown. Michael Langdon turned out to be more pathetic than scary, and it was hard to take him seriously as the antichrist. One thing American Horror Story does well, even if plotlines aren’t always perfect, is creating unique aesthetics. Apocalypse had a lot to work with as far as imagery and tropes are concerned, but it really dropped the ball. Overall, this season went too far towards the campy spectrum, and, in the end, there was nothing really at stake as everything turned out mostly for the best.
This season really hit the nail on the head when it came to being visually appealing and freaky. The opening of this season included Lady Gaga having a foursome that ended in murder, and we will always be grateful to this season for that. Despite the great idea of a creepy murder hotel, things got too messy with storylines related to vampires, serial killers, and ghosts. The cast of this season was one of the strongest, and this season definitely had style. While the ending of this season left a lot to be desired, the interesting, likable characters such as Liz Taylor made this season worth watching.
Asylum is generally viewed as a better season of American Horror Story, but it also had a lot of flaws. Sarah Paulson’s performance as Lana Winters in Asylum was strong and striking, and Zachary Quinto frightened us all with his role as Dr. Thredson. This season definitely had some of the scariest moments because they were so realistic. Many people were treated horribly in asylums, and the moments where Lana goes through conversion therapy were also extremely powerful. However, the season had too much going on once again. From alien metaphors to possession to Nazis, this season could have been better if some of the excess storylines had been cut out.
While many people didn’t get Roanoake, this season was actually one of the most effective of them all in having a theme and sticking to it. Overall, there weren’t lots of unnecessary plot lines, and this was also one of the scariest seasons as far as things that make you jump. While some people didn’t like the meta-twist where the actors returned to Roanoke to find that the ghost stories were true. However, this season was a masterful creation that used common horror tropes seen in films like The Blair Witch Project and then flipped them on their head. The narrative use of a fake ghost story documentary was done brilliantly, even if not everyone gets the appeal.
2 MURDER HOUSE
Murder House is a classic haunted house horror story that is more about the ghosts that all families deal with than literal ones. This is what makes this season so effective. It’s definitely a metaphor about how grief and trauma haunt families, and the ending of the season was brutal and effective. This season kicked everyone off on a high note and is likely way many future seasons just don’t hold up. With a variety of ghosts, Murder House was a scary season that dealt with common horror themes such as sexual assault, pregnancy, and family.
Coven wasn’t a perfect season, but it was the most iconic season of them all. For all of the moments that have entered the pop culture lexicon and for the stunning witchy aesthetic, Coven tops the list of the best seasons of American Horror Story. Jessica Lange was at the top of her game here, and we also have Angela Bassett as the powerful Marie Laveau. It’s hard to top the New Orleans vibe this season has, and the characters from this season were so lovable they had to bring them back for season 8 and will likely be brought back in another future season. Whether this was your favorite season or not, you can’t deny it had a lot of style and cast some sort of spell on the viewer.