After nine years and nine seasons of FX’s American Horror Story, we have a lot to unpack. As a loyal fan since middle school, I’ve seen each season multiple times and have had an ample amount of time to carefully curate an accurate ranking of the best seasons. Known for its outlandish and eccentric content, the Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk-produced anthology series has constantly pushed boundaries and given its audience some truly iconic seasons. Without further adieu, this is my humble ranking of every season:
9. Hotel (Season 5)
While this season had its fair share of shocking plot twists and stunning acting performances, overall it was just plain gross. I usually am not affected by graphic content, but a lot of the scenes this season were hard to sit through. Some redeeming qualities were Denis O’Hare’s portrayal of Liz Taylor and the plot twists regarding the identity of the Ten Commandments killer. I felt this season had potential but ultimately tried to turn attention in too many directions at once.
8. Cult (Season 7)
This was another season with wasted potential in my opinion. Released in 2017 and dealing with the aftermath of the 2016 election, the first episode opens with election night and depicts the reactions of the diverse characters. The first few episodes started out strong and promising, with the dynamic of Sarah Paulson and Evan Peters’ characters at the center of the plot. However, I found this to be the most confusing of all the seasons. Additionally, this is the only season to include no supernatural elements- a factor I find significant to this show. As a plus, the theme song to this season absolutely banged.
7. Apocalypse (Season 8)
Apocalypse was the season I was most looking forward to. The premise of season eight was a combination of two earlier seasons of AHS: Coven and Murder House. Many iconic characters made a second appearance in this season in addition to new characters who added new elements to the story. While the first few episodes were exciting and nostalgic, (specifically “Return to Murder House”) ultimately, the end of the season ruined everything it was made out to be. I’m not going to spoil the ending for those who have yet to watch, but be prepared to be disappointed. In hindsight, I do think this season would be much higher on the list had the last episode not dropped the ball.
6. Freak Show (Season 4)
The presence of Jessica Lange in this season definitely gives Freak Show an edge. The 1950s circus theme made for some creepy aesthetics- a classic in the AHS universe. While this season is not particularly beloved by fans, I actually think it is underrated. Many of the characters are likable and bring originality to the story (Pepper, Bette & Dot, Ma Petite). Additionally, the stunning (and disturbing) acting performance of Finn Wittrock as Dandy Mott is a standout out of all nine seasons.
5. 1984 (Season 9)
After my first watch of this season, I’ll admit I was not the biggest fan. However, after it was added to Netflix recently and I had time to re-watch and appreciate it more. There are multiple shocking plot twists that keep viewers on their feet and anticipating the next episode. Additionally, the nostalgic 80s setting, music, and fashion add an unmatched amount of character to this season. While the pacing of the storyline was a bit weary at times, ultimately the ending made up for it.
4. Roanoke (Season 6)
Although this may be a controversial opinion, this is actually the season I’ve re-watched the most. One of the most original and unpredictable seasons, Roanoke perhaps has one of the biggest plot twists in the show’s history. I loved how each actor got to showcase their range by playing multiple characters. The pacing of this season really added to the effect of the truly terrifying concept and made for an explosive ending…. literally. Also: Leslie Jordan’s character in this season is hilarious and extremely endearing. I would die for that man.
3. Asylum (Season 2)
No doubt one of the most well-made installments of AHS, Asylum is probably the most intricate of all nine seasons. These 13 episodes covered everything from The Holocaust to alien abductions to Christianity and somehow managed to create a cohesive, truly scary season. Some standout performances from this season include Sarah Paulson as (the iconic) Lana Winters, Zachary Quinto as Dr. Oliver Thredson, and Lily Rabe as Sister Mary Eunice. This season gave us everything and then some.
2. Murder House (Season 1)
The season that started it all will most certainly go down as one of the most iconic. Murder House introduced us to fan-favorite characters (Tate, Violet, Constance) and made the audience wanting more of this unconventional series. At the time it aired in 2011, Murder House was a trailblazer for the horror genre in television and gained a cult following that would allow the series to thrive for years. The originality of the first installment of AHS was refreshing, surprising, and is definitely worth a re-watch! The nostalgia of this season is unmatched and curated its own aesthetic.
1. Coven (Season 3)
Coven is my favorite season for so many reasons, it’s difficult to keep this short. To sum it up shortly; witches, Sarah Paulson, iconic female characters, New Orleans, exquisite acting, hilarious one-liners, and voodoo. Mix it all together, and you get a truly perfect season of television. Coven not only would go on to inspire a whole other season of AHS, but is the most engaging and exciting to watch in my opinion.