Created by Ryan Murphy, of Glee and Popular, American Horror Story is an FX original series. Described as an anthology series, AHS chronicles fictionalized haunted locations, the living and the dead who interact within them. Each season has its own self-contained storyline and characters and it has been posed that each season will introduce a new location as well as new characters and storylines. Premiering in October 2011, the first season focused its sights on a struggling family of three who move into a new house in LA. Each of them soon learn the house's demonic secrets as well as the violent and selfish spirits within its walls. American Horror Story: Asylum begins in 1964 at the fictional mental institution, Briarcliff Manor, following the stories of the staff and inmates who occupy it, and intercuts with events in the past and present.
Returning cast members from the previous season of the series include: Sarah Paulson, Frances Conroy, Jessica Lange, Dylan McDermott, Evan Peters, Zachary Quinto and Lily Rabe.
The season garnered seventeen Primetime Emmy Award nominations, more than any other show. The performances of Jessica Lange, James Cromwell, Zachary Quinto, Sarah Paulson, and Lily Rabe were particularly praised. Cromwell won the Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie, as well as Quinto and Paulson winning their respective supporting categories at the 3rd Critics' Choice Television Awards.
The third season primarily follows the antics and events of a Coven of Salem descendants who reside within a boarding school, Miss Robichaux's Academy, centered in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Academy is run by headmistress Cordelia Foxx (Sarah Paulson), who has always lived in the shadow of her mother, Fiona Goode (Jessica Lange). Fiona is the Coven's "Supreme", a witch born every generation who embodies countless gifts and magical abilities, namely, the Seven Wonders of Witchcraft; the Supreme is the head of the Coven. Danger lurks inside the Academy's past due to the mysterious butler Spalding (Denis O'Hare) and his relationship with Fiona. The entire Coven is assessed and evaluated by the Council of Witchcraft, which includes Fiona's old rival and Cordelia's mother figure, Myrtle Snow (Frances Conroy).
The season is set in Jupiter, Florida in 1952, centered around one of the few remaining freak shows at the time, as its members do anything to keep the business alive. The season focuses on the conflict between the freaks and the "evil forces" who do not understand them.