Every season of American Horror Story, ranked by how high it scores on Rotten Tomatoes
Number one is a shock but FULLY DESERVED
Let’s cut the shit. The debate on whether American Horror Story is actually any good is a hugely divisive one. Even massive, lifelong fans of Ryan Murphy’s chaotic horror anthology openly admit almost every season is plagued by crap moments, and its biggest detractors are hard pressed to compliment even the more beloved seasons of AHS. Despite turbulence in its quality, every single season of American Horror Story has maintained a “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes’ prestigious Tomatometer. But which season of is the most critically acclaimed? Here’s every season of American Horror Story ranked by its Rotten Tomatoes score.
10. Hotel – 64 per cent
Scraping into the “fresh” rating with 64 per cent is the chaotic and messy Hotel. Season five of American Horror Story was the first without Jessica Lange, and whilst Lady Gaga does an incredibly charismatic job in her role as The Countess as Lange’s unofficial replacement she isn’t enough to keep it afloat. The cast all do the best with what they can, but the plot is chaotic and the structure is all over the place. As Rotten Tomatoes put it, Hotel “favours garish style over effective storytelling, stranding a talented cast at Ryan Murphy’s Hotel”.
9. Murder House – 72 per cent
The first season of American Horror Story is one of the most beloved by fans. The murder house as a central location is so iconic, as is the Tate and Violet cursed love story, the Rubber Man and Jessica Lange as Constance Langdon. This low ranking is likely to shock people. In hindsight, I feel like critical reception would be more positive. Remember that when this season came out, critics had nothing to compare it to and they didn’t know that it would be an anthology show. With that in mind and knowing what AHS would evolve into being, it might not have placed this low.
8. Cult – 73 per cent
American Horror Story: Cult is a decent season, but not one that cries out for a rewatch. Its plot felt very reactionary to Trump’s win in the 2016 Presidential Election, and for that reason watching Cult today feels like a bit of a time capsule of how the world was feeling at that time. Evan Peters and Sarah Paulson do great work on this season, but it was one that never really captured fan’s love too much and it seems the critics agree.
7. Roanoke – 74 per cent
I personally think Roanoke is one of the best plotted and most unexpectedly successful seasons of American Horror Story, you just need to have a bit of patience with it. It doesn’t reveal its winning hand until half way through, and the first half’s structure as a mockumentary recreation kills any of the scares dead. Sarah Paulson recently stated she wasn’t a fan and wished she sat the season out, but Roanoke is a strong season and perhaps ranked a bit harshly here.
6. Freak Show – 77 per cent
Jessica Lange’s swansong in Freak Show garnered acclaim, as all her performances do, but Freak Show as a whole always felt like a bit of a decline in American Horror Story levels of fun. After a three season run of ghosts, asylums and witches the premise of circus and freak show was never particularly chilling. The cast are amazing and the visuals are vivid, but Freak Show tends to drag.
5. Apocalypse – 79 per cent
Apocalypse is a rare beast in the American Horror Story canon in that it throws anthology out the window and acts as a direct sequel to Murder House and Coven. There are still new storylines and characters in the mix, but it’s a season for the longtime fans. It’s fan service, and although it divides opinion I thought it was fan service that was completely joyous and I loved every second. Although it clearly could alienate new viewers, I’m glad to see critics rank it top five.
4. Asylum – 84 per cent
Asylum is widely regarded as the best season of American Horror Story by fans, mostly for its darker tone, true scares and incredible cast on finest form. Asylum is chaotic and a lot, but manages to never drops all the plates it’s juggling. Critics according to Rotten Tomatoes were in agreement that American Horror Story: Asylum built on everything Murder House did by crossing more boundaries, taking more risks and commenting well on societal issues.
3. Coven – 85 per cent
Coven is just an absolute joy from start to finish, and is like the comfort blanket season of American Horror Story that you can watch on repeat and always have a great time with. The cast are so female fronted and iconic, the lines are campy and bitchy and you can tell the actors are having a blast getting to spit them with such witchy venom. It sacked off scares for glamour, camp and societal commentary in a way that stands the test of time – and the Rotten Tomatoes sore backs up its legacy with American Horror Story fans.
2. 1984 – 87 per cent
The Rotten Tomatoes critical consensus for American Horror Story: 1984 goes as follows: “A near-perfect blend of slasher tropes and American Horror Story’s trademark twists, 1984 is a bloody good time.” It’s probably the most unexpected high scorer out of them all, as 1984 isn’t a particularly popular season with fans. Sarah Paulson and Evan Peters sat it out, for one, which is never a particularly good omen. This score is perhaps your signal to give this one a rewatch, and maybe it will surprise you.
1. Double Feature – 95 per cent
Yep, that’s right. The 10th season of American Horror Story is currently standing as its most acclaimed ever, and although we’re only halfway through the first act of it (the season is going to completely change themes in two episodes, hence the name double feature) it is easily in the conversation as the best American Horror Story has ever been.
The cast is excellent, especially standout stars in Leslie Grossman and newcomer Macauley Culkin (!). Both of them are stealing every scene they’re in, unless they’re up against the ferocious Frances Conroy who really shows why she should be discussed in the same American Horror Story league as Jessica Lange. It’s so far a season full of unexpected bite, flair and originality and deserves this quite surprising top spot.
Featured image courtesy of FX.
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