Binge Guide

Everything You Need to Know Before You Binge-Watch American Horror Story

by | September 30, 2015 | Comments

While prepping for Halloween festivities, one might want to allot some time to catch up on American Horror Story on FX, which begins its fifth season, Hotel, on Oct. 7.  Here’s why we think you should binge this monstrously fun horror series.


AHS_110814_0179_hires2

What’s the premise?

Each season of AHS is its own horror-themed storyline occurring in extra scary environs, often using the same cast members in different roles.

What’s it like?

American Horror Story is one of the only shows on television that, much like Madonna, keeps reinventing itself every season, consistently engaging viewers regardless of their final opinion of the content. The first season, retroactively named American Horror Story: Murder House, focuses on a troubled family who moves into a house haunted by anyone who ever died on the property. The second season, American Horror Story: Asylum, moves to Briarcliff Mental Institution, where supernatural events occur regularly, and the staff is almost indistinguishable from the patients, sanity-wise. Later seasons include storylines about a home-school for young witches, a carnival freak show, and finally, this year, a terrifying hotel.

Why should I watch this?

Creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk wanted to veer away from their previous collaborations on Nip/Tuck and Glee and indulge their darker sides. Each season feels like the duo made a list of things you can’t show on network television for fear of sending ladies scrambling for their fainting couches, and then found a story to fit them. Beautifully shot, with fantastic production value in sets and costumes, and a talented cast to rival that of any other cable show, AHS feels like a modern continuation of Hammer horror films instead of just a cheap rip-off.

Where can I see it?

New episodes begin Wednesday, Oct. 7 on FX at 10 p.m. All four prior seasons are available on Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, PlayStation, Vudu, and on DVD and Blu-ray. The first three seasons are also available on Amazon Prime, Hulu, and Netflix (season four will be available on DVD, Blu-ray, Hulu and Netflix on Oct. 6).

How long will it take?

Each episode is an hour long, and the four seasons so far will take about 55 hours to scream through.

What do the critics think?

The first season is Fresh at 64 percent, and the second season topped it with a Certified Fresh rating of 77 percent. Seasons three and four are also Certified Fresh at 81 percent and 87 percent respectively. The critics seem to be aware of its over-the-top sensibilities but can’t ignore its appeal. Mary McNamara of the Los Angeles Times calls it “a big ol’ brooding, baffling, ridiculous, and occasionally compelling mess of a show,” and David Hiltbrand of the Philadelphia Inquirer warns viewers that “AHS Asylum crosses a line for television… It goes beyond dark all the way to clerical black, the scourge of all light.”

ahs

Why should I watch this?

Put simply, it’s totally berserk and there’s nothing like it on television. Other horror-based shows like The Walking Dead and True Blood are certainly dark and disturbing, but the latter is just a soap opera in a black cape and fangs, while the former is more of a anthropological discussion of the human condition that happens to have zombies hanging around. American Horror Story feels like the middle ground between the two. It keeps social commentary at a minimum while still having something to say, peppered into shocking story lines and compelling emotional experiences for its characters. Although the cast has won numerous acting Emmys over the years, Jessica Lange deserves a special hand for being in the first four seasons and blowing minds everywhere in season two as Sister Jude. “The Name Game” episode in season two is a perfect example of the kind of mesmerizing madness that this show has become famous for, and certainly the reason I was excited to kick off seasons three and four.

What’s my next step?

Falchuk says that their inspirations for the show lie in movies like Rosemary’s Baby, The Shining, and Halloween. Murphy cites the Dark Shadows television program as his influence for combining supernatural figures and soap opera story lines. For more frightening Murphy/Falchuk goodness, check out the new FOX show, Scream Queens. Finally, if your love for the show stems from the wacky imagery, make sure to watch David Lynch’s Twin Peaks.

 

American-Horror-Story-Season-4-Clues

Tag Cloud

History werewolf Endgame hidden camera LGBT psycho breaking bad Disney streaming service Walt Disney Pictures Martial Arts slashers Netflix Christmas movies Ghostbusters rotten movies we love cooking Opinion Cannes latino lord of the rings Pirates children's TV See It Skip It Horror Mudbound laika kaiju Columbia Pictures know your critic die hard docuseries Baby Yoda CBS Holidays Warner Bros. saw Countdown technology movies Brie Larson biopic The Purge A&E Reality rom-coms Teen nfl dexter Box Office renewed TV shows Apple CBS All Access zero dark thirty spider-verse dramedy supernatural halloween tv OneApp SXSW best high school Comedy Central strong female leads zombie Hallmark First Look parents Country Spectrum Originals DGA comedies olympics joker Chilling Adventures of Sabrina streaming Shondaland Rocky marvel cinematic universe Neflix Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt classics Sneak Peek USA SundanceTV comic comiccon child's play Tags: Comedy discovery spy thriller sitcom japan action-comedy Film Festival mob venice Valentine's Day christmas movies south america USA Network quibi comic books TruTV TCA Winter 2020 Pop TV green book Trailer GLAAD Super Bowl Sony Pictures Tomatazos women halloween football Set visit Hallmark Christmas movies romance Esquire Comics on TV disaster true crime worst dceu E3 SDCC period drama revenge royal family teaser sopranos pirates of the caribbean Food Network Interview dark TCM screen actors guild Amazon Prime elevated horror indiana jones Television Academy Universal Pictures Peacock game of thrones Syfy biography book Sundance boxing documentary Schedule Marvel Studios YouTube Red Pacific Islander 72 Emmy Awards BET Awards cancelled television kong scorecard nbcuniversal comic book movie TNT Shudder Emmys BAFTA Pop Spring TV australia critic resources hispanic Nat Geo Tarantino 79th Golden Globes Awards slasher Ovation Toys LGBTQ Stephen King comics Calendar WarnerMedia theme song politics criterion American Society of Cinematographers TBS Kids & Family Awards Tour Oscars posters Sundance TV Spike book adaptation Marvel Television ratings award winner 007 Fall TV Nickelodeon razzies dogs trailers worst movies Captain marvel leaderboard ghosts justice league NBC cars Dark Horse Comics Starz VICE adaptation anime Winners HBO Max Star Trek streaming movies Writers Guild of America mutant Universal 73rd Emmy Awards 2021 Turner science fiction The Arrangement chucky Disney+ Disney Plus MSNBC Song of Ice and Fire Tokyo Olympics blockbusters jurassic park Masterpiece fast and furious BET 90s Disney Mystery toronto BBC One critics diversity stand-up comedy APB IFC Black History Month HFPA cults documentaries Rock singing competition french The CW space HBO Go crossover monster movies comic book movies Sci-Fi james bond ABC Family Cartoon Network political drama popular Mary Poppins Returns TV movies Hollywood Foreign Press Association stop motion rt archives crime king kong Amazon Prime Video 93rd Oscars spinoff zombies CNN reviews National Geographic San Diego Comic-Con live event New York Comic Con PaleyFest art house Musical Comic Book Music ViacomCBS Emmy Nominations X-Men 2015 composers Vudu scary deadpool psychological thriller Lifetime The Walking Dead 2020 superhero YA canceled Photos black medical drama CMT TV One unscripted Year in Review Grammys El Rey The Walt Disney Company reboot name the review movie 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards Tubi police drama Fox News Mary Tyler Moore Red Carpet Tumblr Paramount Network President independent IMDb TV 2017 spanish Biopics 21st Century Fox TV renewals animated harry potter 45 Infographic 2019 dreamworks serial killer italian vampires Summer Trivia trophy what to watch Paramount Plus rt labs casting thriller Exclusive Video Netflix a nightmare on elm street DC streaming service suspense Film DC Universe Hulu BBC America CW Seed TIFF Academy Awards DirecTV heist movie series YouTube Premium Family feel good Wes Anderson NYCC young adult black comedy Certified Fresh historical drama cancelled TV series Awards aapi based on movie Comedy witnail Black Mirror The Witch remakes miniseries sequel First Reviews films facebook Epix Television Critics Association Showtime Logo gangster Heroines blockbuster Fantasy mockumentary travel 2018 prank FXX indie fresh sequels target E! Ellie Kemper sag awards ESPN talk show Superheroe cops Holiday Winter TV obituary scene in color mission: impossible Election crime thriller GIFs Mary poppins telelvision Drama game show 1990s Classic Film Sundance Now Avengers Pixar Funimation Travel Channel news Comic-Con@Home 2021 Cosplay Crackle sports 20th Century Fox MTV docudrama TV Land cinemax Lionsgate rt labs critics edition Apple TV Plus Podcast all-time OWN new zealand Fox Searchlight directors Discovery Channel 4/20 Watching Series marvel comics 71st Emmy Awards war foreign TCA Awards Polls and Games concert Pet Sematary 99% canceled TV shows Best and Worst universal monsters natural history cartoon international archives festivals TLC richard e. Grant batman godzilla rotten emmy awards hispanic heritage month superman ABC Signature nature ITV stoner 2016 Instagram Live RT History festival DC Comics japanese Christmas Marvel Quiz Superheroes golden globe awards Adult Swim spain Western Action Apple TV+ toy story live action FX on Hulu versus cats hist Crunchyroll FOX adenture 24 frames Video Games Musicals scary movies doctor who debate asian-american Hear Us Out Rom-Com wonder woman anthology genre Prime Video Bravo Acorn TV tv talk satire robots Mindy Kaling spanish language Trophy Talk PlayStation spider-man legend FX Rocketman Lucasfilm Lifetime Christmas movies binge Alien Amazon Arrowverse mcc Chernobyl video on demand PBS Anna Paquin Turner Classic Movies Thanksgiving BBC golden globes twilight free movies Elton John WGN Women's History Month blaxploitation Creative Arts Emmys romantic comedy NBA basketball ID ABC Premiere Dates Binge Guide hollywood aliens Extras jamie lee curtis Legendary new star wars movies Image Comics finale television social media Marathons A24 YouTube vs. dc Disney Channel screenings kids boxoffice Broadway Pride Month Reality Competition adventure video TV VH1 transformers AMC Fargo crime drama Character Guide HBO cancelled TV shows GoT Disney Plus VOD TCA Animation The Academy AMC Plus Nominations king arthur Freeform Star Wars Amazon Studios franchise IFC Films cancelled TCA 2017 RT21 Paramount new york Britbox dragons MCU