American Horror Story: Season 1, Episode 1

Pilot (5 Oct. 2011)

TV Episode  -   -  Drama | Horror | Thriller
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Ratings: 8.1/10 from 2,697 users  
Reviews: 11 user | 9 critic

Therapist Ben Harmon, his wife, Vivien, and their daughter, Violet, move across the country to Los Angeles to escape their troubled past.



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Title: Pilot (05 Oct 2011)

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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Dr. Day


Vivien and Ben Harmon and their daughter Violet relocate to Los Angeles from Boston and buy a large old house. As required by law, the real estate agent discloses that the previous occupants were the victims of a murder-suicide. The Harmons think nothing of it and concentrate on repairing their marriage that has come under strain following Vivien's miscarriage and Ben's subsequent infidelity with one of his students. Ben is a psychiatrist and will meet his patients in the house. They meet the neighbors, the eccentric Constance and her daughter Adelaide. Vivien also hires a housekeeper, Moira, but Ben and Vivien don't quite see the same person when they look at her. Violet is bullied at school and befriends one of her dad's patients who has serious psychological problems. Strange events begin to occur. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Drama | Horror | Thriller


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Release Date:

5 October 2011 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

16:9 HD
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Did You Know?


Vivian gives Ben a long cut on the left arm after she catches him committing adultery. But every time we see his arm during the rest of the show, there is no scar. See more »


Adelaide: You're going to die in there.
Troy: Shut your mouth or we're gonna kick your ass!
Bryan: We got bats.
See more »


References What Lies Beneath (2000) See more »


American Horror Story Theme
Written by Cesar Davila-Irizarry and Charlie Clouser
See more »

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User Reviews

Promising Pilot
6 October 2011 | by (Sunland, CA) – See all my reviews

I'm a long-time horror fan. My wife & her mom aren't. We all enjoyed "American Horror Story".

The setup is fairly standard: a feuding family moves cross country, only to find that they can't run from their problems, and may in fact run into even worse ones. Of the supernatural kind.

It's wonderful to see well-produced horror on TV. As much as I want to like shows like "American Gothic" & "Masters of Horror", these shows just feel cheap. While "American Horror Story" is a touch over-indulgent on camera tricks, it's got a wonderful atmosphere that truly unsettles. That being said, the show so far resembles more of a Lynchian melodrama than a straight-up spooktacular.

Much of this has to do with the personalities. Connie Britton & Dylan McDermott feel like a real couple going through real hard, awkward times, although I hope they lose their habit of YELLING EXPOSITION AT EACH OTHER. Their conflict is deep, yet their devotion feels real; while I can't say I agree with their courses of action, it isn't a "white hat, black hat" scenario. As for the rest of the leads, Jessica Lange was already on my nerves by episode's end, and I could take or leave Taissa Farmiga as the couple's daughter (that being said, I'm interested in where their threads take them). Luckily, there are top-shelf supporting cameos from Frances Conroy ("Six Feet Under") & Denis O'Hare ("True Blood"). Then, of course, there's the menagerie of ghouls & ghosts, from the bondage-suited "Rubber Man" adorning all the ads to bloody twin boys & the Down's syndrome girl next door.

"American Horror Story" isn't the greatest thing I've ever seen. But it shows great promise. A common criticism of the horror film (unfortunately for good reason) is underdeveloped characters. The TV season format allows for deeper connection & taking time to draw out characters, motivations & stories. For now, count me in for the ride.

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