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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

Horror 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 long-running American Horror Story is cut from an even darker, crazier cloth than the more run-of-the-mill variety. Why, it might make you laugh, cry, vomit, twitch, scratch your head in confusion and run maniacally from the living room—all in the space of 90 seconds.

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.

Explosive Beginning

FX's wacky freak-out show is a different beast than most long-running series. While it retains the same vibe and some of its players from season to season (and takes place in the same shared universe), 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 Eight (subtitled Apocalypse) is set in the aftermath of an all-out nuclear catastrophe. Most of the world's population has been incinerated. Many of the initial survivors are either dead or dying in the aftermath from the ravages of radiation and nuclear winter.

But a "lucky" few—those rich enough or whose DNA is prized enough—have found refuge in a series of underground outposts sponsored by a shadowy group known as The Collective.

The idea, naturally, was to ensure the continuation of humanity. Folks like young Kyle and Emily were chosen from massive worldwide databases for their super-great genes—ideal, The Collective figured, to reboot civilization.

As for the rest of the survivors in this outpost near a now-obliterated Los Angeles … well, wealth does have its privileges. Money might not matter in this brave new world, but it sure mattered in the old one, and those deep pockets paved the way for The Collective to do its work. All of which explains why a spoiled heiress (Coco St. Pierre Vanderbilt), her hairdresser (Mr. Gallant) and a famous talk-show host (Dinah Stevens) are among those who managed to punch a golden ticket. A few others are on hand—such as Coco's loyal assistant, Mallory—were allowed entry, too, but only to be the new world's worker bees.

But alas, the end of the world can make a mess of everything, even in places designed to ride out Armageddon.

The Collective isn't around to micromanage everything. And Ms. Wilhemina Venable, the group's hand-picked manager for this outpost, has her own, more sadistic idea about how to run the place, along with her lover, Ms. Miriam Mead, who handles the dirty work. There also seems to be something else at work in this subterranean fortress, a one-time boys' school: an evil, perhaps diabolical, presence. Turns out, the horrors outside might be pretty tame compared to the horrors within.

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 once called 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, creator Ryan 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," wrote 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

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles



Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Sept. 9, 2018: "The End"
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



Readability Age Range



(Season Eight) Sarah Paulson as Wilhemina Venable, Cordelia Goode, and Billie Dean Howard; Evan Peters as Mr. Gallant and Tate Langdon; Adina Porter as Dinah Stevens; Billie Lourd as Mallory; Leslie Grossman as Coco St. Pierre Vanderbilt; Cody Fern as Michael Langdon; Emma Roberts as Madison Montgomery; Kathy Bates as Miriam Mead; Kyle Allen as Timothy Campbell; Ash Santos as Emily; Joan Collins as Evie Gallant






Record Label




On Video

Year Published



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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