American Horror Story Seasons Ranked from Best to Mediocre
Practically every TV series has a season that you don’t feel overjoyed about. Very few shows that have multiple seasons will impress you every time, unless you’re a super fan that finds no wrong even in what you love. It doesn’t make you less of a fan to critique and notice what could have been done better.
With American Horror Story it’s a different experience in regards to critiquing each season because it’s an anthology series. Despite American Horror Story: Apocalypse’s crossover with American Horror Story: Coven – every season has its own theme, plot, and characters. That alone brings on a plethora of possibilities each season, especially when we’re given weird teasers and minimal information.
Despite my love for AHS, there have been seasons that were quite sloppy or just not my speed. Below you’ll find my own personal ranking and if you’re a fan then you’ll understand all of what I’m saying.
1. Coven (2013)
While it may not seem like it, this season gets bashed on occasion. Some arguments on why it wasn’t the best were valid, but not enough to change my mind about this season.
Was it perfect? No, but nobody can say this wasn’t a nail-biting season. Not only did it have bad ass witches but Angela Bassett (Marie Laveau) and Jessica Lange (The Supreme, Fiona Goode) stole the damn show! A lot of the memorable moments featured one or both of them. Unless Stevie Nicks’ cameo appearances are more your speed. Which, in my opinion, were iconic and can’t be touched.
All in all, the season explored racism, what it’s like being black and a witch, depictions of Marie Laveau, Madame LaLaurie and the Axeman, as well as other topics. In my opinion, this season deserves better treatment than it’s received.
2. Murder House (2011)
This season was the perfect one to rope us in for this anthology series. It gave us the right amount of drama and plenty of horror. Of course, Jessica Lange (Constance Langdon) was stellar in this season, but the performances from the rest of the cast were on point as well.
The Harmon Family, which this season focuses on, keeps us on the edge of our seats throughout. Not many things will have you saying “totally saw that coming,” from the twists and turns to what transpired in that spooky ass mansion. While there were a handful of things that still disturb me, it’s still a top season for me and is undoubtedly a successful one within the series.
3. Apocalypse (2018)
Having Murder House and Coven crossover is something I have to applaud Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk (the show creators) for. Not only that but casting Cody Fern as Michael Langdon (aka the Antichrist ) was a big thumbs up. His performance throughout is no joke and it held me til the end, even when his character had me unimpressed, which unfortunately happened more than I’d like to admit.
Some parts of this season were dragged out to me and some characters felt pointless by the end. And that’s just some of what could have been done better in my opinion. Nevertheless, seeing my favorite witches again and witnessing many explicit scenes and having certain gaps filled helped the slow parts of the season.
4. Roanoke (2016)
Weird as hell. That’s the easiest way to describe the overall vibe of this season. In the beginning it seems confusing because of the set up. Though soon enough you come to the conclusion that it’s a TV show within a TV show.
It starts off being about an interracial couple, Shelby (Lily Rabe) and Matt Miller (André Holland), Matt’s sister, Lee (Adina Porter) and their experiences in a farmhouse that’s situated on the land where the Roanoke Colony disappeared in the 1580’s.
It was an interesting way to explore a real-life mystery and bring something new to the table for the series. What can be considered memorable is how many times Matt’s name is said from start to finish, the crazy ass ghosts, Scáthach or that British accent from Sarah Paulson in the final few episodes.
5. Hotel (2015)
This season is one that you either really didn’t like or you liked for the most part. For me, it’s re-watchable and holds my interest every time, even with the jacked up and bizarre happenings that occur in the Hotel Cortez. Though, I’m one for weird and batshit crazy stories, so maybe that makes me slightly biased in this instance. Mostly the season focuses on serial killers, supernatural occurrences and beings and a whole lot of mystery.
Lady Gaga, who had never appeared on the show before, gets to show off her acting chops as The Countess, a vampire who’s endured decades of the Hotel Cortez, and it’s creator. She can’t be compared to Jessica Lange but she wasn’t a disappointment either. Essentially she brought a different flavor that you either like or don’t. Regardless, it may not have been amazing but it wasn’t the worst either.
6. Asylum (2012)
This season does way too much and it overall feels like the wrong type of chaos. Whether it’s the alien abduction, “Bloody Face”, the consistent bullshit Lana Winters (Sarah Paulson) endures, Briarcliff Manor overall, the demonic possession, or the other craziness within this season.
I just can’t bring myself to actually consider this season the best one. Meanwhile, other fans most certainly will give it that title. The cast does help keep the season afloat and that does help save the season for me. Without a solid cast, this season would been a huge dumpster fire, which is the short way of saying it. If anything, it’s very much memorable for “The Name Game” scene, as well as watching a possessed nun act high-key explicit.
7. Cult (2017)
Ahhh, the results of the 2016 presidential election. I despise thinking about the rigged and undeniably corrupt results. The same ones that made that orange fool the president. We already deal with this reality and the horror of it all. So having this season be so realistic was... awful.
Instead of wacky serial killers, vampires, possession, bad ass witches, ghosts, or anything else that American Horror Story has given us – we get the horrors of our present day, such as: violence coming from Trump supporters and the right-wing in general to how progressives are painted as too radical and sensitive. In addition to how even white progressives can flip.
Not much about this season is unrealistic, which made it hard to watch. Normally I would be all for symbolism and realistic aspects, but Cult wasn’t as gripping as previous seasons. Not even Evan Peters (whose character I really hated in this season) helped.
8. Freak Show (2014)
Unfortunately there’s not much to take away from this whack season. Yes, the title should have given it away. Though it was given the benefit of the doubt and became a let down.
Maybe the first episode showed some potential, yet from there it was just a weird chain of events within the plot. No one was prepared for a choppy story or the most irritating character that is Dandy Mott (Finn Wittrock).
This season is indefinitely my least favorite and not even a few re-watches can change my mind. Not even the gay content within this season made it any better, which is saying a lot. So it makes the bottom of this list, will stay at the bottom, and won’t crawl up from the abyss.
Vanessa Maki is a queer writer, artist & other things.
She’s full of black girl magic & has no apologies for that. Her work has appeared in various places like Really System & others. She is also forthcoming in a variety of places. She’s founder/EIC of rose quartz magazine & is involved in other literary spaces as well.