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An anthology series that centers on different characters and locations, including a murder house, an asylum, a coven, a freak show, a hotel and a sinister farmhouse in North Carolina
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2017   2016   2015   2014   … See all »
Won 2 Golden Globes. Another 104 wins & 268 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Series cast summary:
...
 Jimmy Darling / ... (73 episodes, 2011-2016)
...
 Lana Winters / ... (64 episodes, 2011-2016)
...
 Spalding / ... (60 episodes, 2011-2016)
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 Elsa Mars / ... (51 episodes, 2011-2015)
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 Ethel Darling / ... (48 episodes, 2013-2016)
...
 Desiree Dupree / ... (47 episodes, 2013-2016)
...
 Sister Mary Eunice McKee / ... (46 episodes, 2011-2016)
...
 Gloria Mott / ... (43 episodes, 2011-2016)
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Storyline

Both physical and psychological horrors affect a decomposing family, workers and residents of an insane asylum, a coven of witches, a cast of circus freaks, and the employees and guests at a struggling hotel in this haunting anthology series, focusing on the themes of infidelity, sanity, oppression, discrimination, and addiction.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The Asylum Is Open for Business. Check Your Sanity at the Door. See more »

Genres:

Drama | Horror | Thriller

Certificate:

TV-MA | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Official Sites:

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Release Date:

5 October 2011 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

AhS  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

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Aspect Ratio:

16:9 HD
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Ryan Murphy and Jessica Lange became so close friends during season 1 that Murphy has consulted with the actress when writing the other characters. For example, Lange wanted to play a big drunk scene and sing in season 2 (therefore Sister Jude does these things), she also wanted to play an elegant woman wearing Chanel in season 3 (therefore Fiona dressed impeccably). Lange herself is also a photographer, and she was particularly attracted to the circus world, especially during the 50s. Hence the character of Elsa Mars, owner of a freak show. See more »

Goofs

Frances Conroy ("Old" Moira O'Hara) is right-eye dominant. Many times you can see that she, as Moira, is focusing on the object she's looking at using her "blind" right eye instead of her left eye. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Chelsea Lately: Episode #8.78 (2014) See more »

Soundtracks

Tainted Love
Written by Ed Cobb
Performed by Hannah Peel
Courtesy of Static Caravan
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

"AMERICAN BEAUTY" - With A Faceful of Acid...
15 October 2011 | by (Walnut Creek, CA) – See all my reviews

If we have absorbed the lessons of what independent family dramas have taught us in the past few decades, what have we learned? That Father Has Never "Known Best", that the "Dreams of The Everyday Housewife" can be laced with resentment, disillusionment, fear and madness? That the placid, peaceful, tranquil picture of the all-American family we have believed in (and taught to uphold and emulate) by our own parents, has always been a facade for all kinds of dementia and dysfunction?

If this is true, then what Ryan Murphy has done is taken the clichés of everything from chief competitor Alan Ball's award-winning American BEAUTY and Stephen King's THE SHINING, put them on steroids and blended them together in his word processor. The result? American HORROR STORY, where the only thing more terrifying than a haunted house laden with secrets that rip people to shreds, are the secrets and lies infesting the lives of one family that threaten to rip THEM to shreds.

When a tragic miscarriage and an even more shattering act of infidelity threaten to tear apart their tenuous marriage, Ben Harmon (THE PRACTICE'S Dylan McDermott) and his wife Vivien (FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS' Connie Britton) take their teenage daughter, Violet (Taissa Farmiga) and move away from their "house of horrors" to find a new start somewhere...ANYWHERE that they can put the noxious past behind them and at least try to have a go at tending to their gaping emotional wounds.

The place they choose - or maybe that chooses THEM - a run-down manse on the outskirts of L.A., turns out to be a real bargain, and though irredeemably creepy, does have an antiquated charm...if you're into murals that would give even Hieronymous Bosch nightmares.

In no short order, unsettling and strange characters - as much as the house itself is - begin to materialize and insinuate themselves into the Harmons' lives, whether they want them to or not: next-door neighbor Constance (Jessica Lange in a brilliant turn), whose demeanor suggests a deadly combo of Blanche DuBois, Norma Desmond and Gale Sondergaard's Black Widow; Frances Conroy (Ruth Fisher from SIX FEET UNDER) as the mysterious housekeeper, Moira, who appears to the rest of the family as one persona, while tempting Ben's weakness for "a taste of strange" with another more lascivious presence, (played by Alexandra Breckenridge); Larry Harvey (TRUE BLOOD alum Denis O'Hare), a horribly burned man who seems to be stalking Ben, and who has his own deadly history with the house and what lives there, and Constance's daughter, Adelaide, (Jamie Brewer), with Downs' Syndrome, yet who seems to have it more together - and knows more about the house - than anyone else around her.

Even Ben's practice as a psychologist is fraught with peril, with the introduction of a teen patient named Tate Langdon (Evan Peters), who has an easier time picking apart and savaging the weaknesses in Ben's emotional armor than Ben does in probing his inscrutable and infuriating new charge's troubled mind. Not to mention that his growing fascination/infatuation with Violet doesn't help things one little bit.

Many people have cried fowl about the show's penchant for relying heavily on old horror tropes and clichés, without even paying attention to how it has been taking said clichés and twisting them into newer and even more unsettling shapes than today's average hot mess passing itself off as a 'horror film.' Leave it to FX to allow Murphy and his team - much as they did with NIP/TUCK - the freedom to push the boundaries of where a horror-infused series can go, without the constraints that hog-tied many of the like-minded series that came before it, such as the ground-breaking TWIN PEAKS or American Gothic, (which wasn't anywhere near as well-written as this).

Two episodes in and I am already intrigued, grossed-out and frankly spooked by what I have seen so far. I just hope that the quality continues to get even better as plot lines and characters get darker and more deadly secrets are unearthed...


95 of 145 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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