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We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

TV Series Review

HHorror stories are made to engage your whole body. They make the hairs on the back of your neck perk up. They force you to wince or close your eyes.

FX's American Horror Story might make you cry, vomit, twitch and run maniacally from the living room.

The show's title is about two-thirds right. American Horror Story is American. And it is horror(ible). But the story part? Well, sometimes, that can be a bit … lacking.

Make America Dead Again?

FX's wacky freak-out show retains the same vibe and some of its players from season to season, but everything else changes. From a family dealing with a house full of ghosts to a coven of New Orleans witches grasping for power, each season has its own nightmares.

Season Seven (subtitled Cult) takes place in the immediate aftermath of the 2016 election. Ally and Ivy, a well-to-do lesbian couple raising their impressionable 9-year-old son, Oz, are both appalled at the election's outcome—but Ally particularly so. The election's results suddenly rekindle a bevy of phobias she's been harboring and successfully grappling with for years, from a fear of blood to a fear of holes to a fear of clowns. She begins to hallucinate (or does she?), seeing visions of her most terrible terrors. Either she's going crazy, or someone's trying to drive her so—and neither answer is particularly comforting.

For Kai Anderson, meanwhile, the controversial election is a dream come true—though his own political perspective is significantly darker than one might find in any sort of policy statement or political rally. This psychopath seems bent on making America terrifyingly xenophobic, where its citizens will be so fearful that they'll hand control over control to an elite, fascist few.

Those two worlds cross when it comes to Winter—Oz's nanny and Kai's progressively minded sister who, nevertheless, has formed a strange, creepy bond with her bro.

This season's explicitly political bent is new for the show, though creator Ryan Murphy—never one to shy away from speaking his mind—argues that the setting is merely window dressing for Cult's underlying current of fear. "It's not about Trump, it's not about Clinton" he told Variety. "It's about somebody with the wherewithal to put their finger up to the wind and see that that's what happening and using that to rise up and form power. And use people's vulnerabilities about how they're feeling afraid… and they feel like the world is on fire."

But while the subject matter may be new and its political undercurrents more obvious, American Horror Story remains as freaky as it ever was.

The series has been hailed by critics and perennially nominated for Emmys. But make no mistake: American Horror Story is flat-out, over-the-top, take-no-prisoners weird—perfect fodder for the snarky riff-meisters on Mystery Science Theater 3000. Or it would be if Tom Servo and Crow could manage to crack jokes between the gasps of horror and disgust they'd surely utter.

Each episode overflows with more sex and gore than you're likely to see anywhere else on basic cable. Slate's Troy Patterson calls the show "deliberately unhinged" and "a showcase for scenery chewing and giddy blasphemy, an exploitation chamber piece." Had Edgar Allan Poe seen the script for just one of these episodes, he would've laughed himself silly ... then buried the whole mess under the floorboards while glancing furtively over his shoulder.

Getting Out the Knives

When interviewed for New York magazine when the show was still relatively new, Murphy defended his nightmare by saying the show's spooky-sexual ethos was cribbed from Dark Shadows, ABC's supernatural daytime soap from the 1970s. "My grandmother used to force me to watch Dark Shadows," he said. "Even when I was sobbing, she made me watch, to toughen me up."

Now Murphy's grandmother's lack of entertainment discernment has come back to haunt us all. Where was Plugged In in 1971 anyway?

"There is nothing—repeat, nothing—subtle about this series," writes salon.com's Matt Zoller Seitz. "It's a jumble of pathology and mayhem—horror for the YouTube generation. ... If it were possible to take a classic early '60s camp horror movie, feed it massive amounts of cocaine, then turn it into a basic cable drama, the result might look like this."

It's a slow episode that doesn't feature some sort of murder, mutilation or scene of torture before every commercial break, most featuring R-level blood and gore. And when the violence wanes, it's often replaced with sexual deviancy and enough anti-religious, often blasphemous messages to make marble statues openly weep.

Morality? That's about the only thing truly dead and buried in American Horror Story.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

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Conclusion

Pro-social Content

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Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

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Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

American Horror Story: Sept. 5, 2017 "Election Night"
American Horror Story: Oct. 5, 2016 "Chapter Four"
American Horror Story: Hotel - Oct. 14, 2015 "Chutes and Ladders"
AmericanHorrorStory: 10-15-2014
AmericanHorrorStory: 10-9-2013
AmericanHorrorStory: 10-17-2012
AmericanHorrorStory: 12-7-2011

Credits

Rating

Readability Age Range

Author

Cast

(Season Seven) Sarah Paulson as Ally Mayfair-Richards; Evan Peters as Kai Anderson; Cheyenne Jackson as Dr. Rudy Vincent; Billie Lourd as Winter Anderson; Alison Pill as Ivy Mayfair-Richards; Cooper Dodson as Oz Mayfair-Richards; John Carroll Lynch as Twisty the Clown

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FX

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Released

On Video

Year Published

Awards

Reviewer

Paul Asay

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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