American Horror Story: A Review of the Past and the Present

Michaela Tarwater, Writer

Every season of American Horror Story has a different theme, different actors, and a different opening sequence. There have been 7 season so far, but they have been renewed for the eighth and ninth seasons as well. This season, American Horror Story: Cult, premieres on Tuesdays at 9:00 PM on FX.

American Horror Story: Murder House, the name of the first season, follows the Harmons, a family with some serious problems through their experience with the haunted house. This house is filled with ghosts, who have all been killed on the property. These ghosts are trying to take revenge and kill anyone who is in the house, so the Harmons are in constant danger. The main characters are so far from perfect, that it is easy for viewers to see themselves in the show. Murder House won over 15 awards, with one Golden Globe and one Primetime Emmy award. This season had generally positive reviews for good reason, Jessica Lange’s acting is stunning and award-winning.

American Horror Story: Asylum, season two, is set in the 1960’s at an insane asylum called Briarcliff Mental Institution. The show follows a reporter named Lana Winters (Sarah Paulson), a journalist, who is sent to Briarcliff to cure her “lesbian-ness”, but while she is there she is taking notes getting ready to expose Briarcliff for the torturous way it treats patients. While Winters is in Briarcliff, there is a serial killer named “Bloody Face” out and about in the world, killing and skinning people. American Horror Story: Asylum was nominated for 89 awards, and won 28. It received generally positive reviews, just like the first season.

American Horror Story: Coven, the third season takes place in present-day New Orleans, and follows a Coven of Salem witches as they fight for not only survival, but a leader as well. Miss Robichaux’s Academy is a school for young witches, so they can learn how to protect themselves, and it is also a place for the coven to gather. The coven of witches is made up of almost all young witches, and they end up competing against each other to be the Supreme. The Supreme is a witch who can master all of the seven powers, (telekinesis, pyrokinesis, clairvoyance, resurgence, transmutation, coercion, weather manipulation), and is the most powerful witch in the coven. The season ended with the new Supreme telling the whole world the truth about witches and invites every young witch to Miss Robichaux’s Academy. Coven was nominated for 73 awards and won 13 of the awards it was nominated for. Coven is a fan favorite, and it shows in the critics ratings of it, as Rotten Tomatoes gave it an 85% approval rating.

Season four, American Horror Story: Freak Show, is set in the 1960’s in a small town in Florida. The season follows one of the last freak shows in America and their struggle to survive in the new world. The story is dark with murderous clowns and conmen who want to make money and don’t care for the lives they are impacting. Freak Show had an average rating of 7.7/10 each episode. The fourth season was nominated for 76 awards, 21 of which were won. American Horror Story: Freak Show started the season with 6.13 million viewers on episode one. This became FX’s most watched program, to this day.

American Horror Story: Hotel, season five, is about Hotel Cortez, a hotel strikingly similar to H.H. Holmes’ death hotel, and the people who work and live there. The Countess (Lady Gaga) is the owner and the main vampire of the hotel. She is trying to protect her hotel and her family from her vengeful lover, Ramona Royale (Angela Bassett). While this is happening a homicide detective is investigating a string of murders that follow the Ten Commandments. American Horror Story: Hotel, at first got mixed reviews, but as the season progressed further the reviews became more and more positive. Rotten Tomatoes gave the season a 63%, which is slightly lower than the other seasons. Hotel was nominated for over 60 awards, and won 20. Lady Gaga’s guest star performance helped win a couple of those awards too.

Season six was highly anticipated and the theme of the show was a secret until the opening credits on the first night it was premiered. Titled American Horror Story: Roanoke, viewers needed a background of what happened to Roanoke to get the full impact of this season’s title. Roanoke was a settlement in the 1590’s. The villagers in Roanoke needed help, as they were running out of food and were fighting indians. They begged John White to go to England and return with help, although when White did return, there was nobody there. The village’s building had been dismantled and there were no obvious signs of struggle. The only thing that was left, was the word “Croatoan”, a local Indian Tribe, inscribed on a tree. Season six revolves around a house that was build on the Roanoke settlement. This house is severely haunted, with ghosts all the way from the original settlement.  A new couple moves into the house and experiences hauntings, and even kidnapping. The series builds up anticipation for the “Blood Moon”, where the ghosts can materialize and actually kill people. American Horror Story: Roanoke received a 78% approval rating from Rotten Tomatoes and has been nominated for 17 awards, so far, and has won two of the 17 awards.

The highly anticipated season seven is titled American Horror Story: Cult is about the anxieties of the election, so far in the season. The show is focused on Ally Mayfair-Richards (Sarah Paulson), and her wife, Ivy Mayfair-Richards (Alison Pill). This season, so far, has taken place in a small town in Michigan in 2016/2017. The first scene in the first episode shows the audience at watch party on election night. The attendees of this party become thoroughly upset when republican, Donald Trump, wins.  Ally is so upset over Trump winning, her anxiety reaches an all time high and her old phobias, including coulrophobia and trypophobia, start to act up and cause her to hallucinate. Although the show’s creator, Ryan Murphy, has said that the show is not about Democrats or Republicans, there is a clear bias toward Democrats.

The show bounces back and forth between the life of Ally and Ivy and the evil shenanigans of Kai Anderson, a cult leader whose cult thrives on fear. He is ecstatic when Trump wins, not because of the politics and the wall, but because of the fear Trump inspires. Kai antagonizes almost everyone, and he even goes so far to harass a group of immigrants. These immigrants beat him up, and conveniently the whole thing gets caught on video. Kai sets these immigrants up to inspire more fear into everyone.

Cult has only aired two episodes and so far the only common item between the two episodes are low viewer turn out. The opening episode had 3.93 million views, which is low compared to the other recent seasons. Rotten Tomatoes has given it an average of 73% on its first two episodes. The plot of this season doesn’t seem too clear right now, but if American Horror Story knows anything, it’s how to make a good show. American Horror Story: Cult has the potential to be a great season, but only if it is executed correctly.