American Horror Stories
American Horror Stories Title Logo.jpeg
Genre
Created by
Theme music composer
ComposerMac Quayle
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons2
No. of episodes15 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producers
Producers
  • Susan V. McConnell
  • Todd Nenninger
  • Lou Eyrich
  • Eryn Krueger Mekash
  • Reilly Smith
  • Todd Kubrak
CinematographyShasta Spahn
Editors
  • Peggy Tachdjian
  • Lousine Shamamian
Running time38–49 minutes
Production companies
DistributorDisney–ABC Domestic Television
Release
Original networkFX on Hulu
Original releaseJuly 15, 2021 (2021-07-15) –
present
Chronology
RelatedAmerican Horror Story

American Horror Stories is an American anthology horror television series created by Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk for FX on Hulu. Premiered on July 15, 2021, the series serves as the third installment in the American Story media franchise and a direct spin-off from American Horror Story. Returning cast members from the original show include Matt Bomer, Celia Finkelstein, Naomi Grossman, John Carroll Lynch, Charles Melton, Billie Lourd, Chad James Buchanan, Cody Fern, Dylan McDermott, Jamie Brewer, Denis O'Hare, Matt Lasky, Gabourey Sidibe, Max Greenfield, Austin Woods, Seth Gabel, Rebecca Dayan, Cameron Cowperthwaite, Spencer Neville, and Teddy Sears.

In August 2021, the series was renewed for a second season, which premiered on July 21, 2022.[1]

Premise

A weekly anthology series where each episode tells a different horror story.[2]

Some episodes of this show are connected to past American Horror Story seasons. The episodes "Rubber(wo)Man Pt. 1 & 2" and "Game Over" are connected with American Horror Story: Murder House while "Dollhouse" is connected with American Horror Story: Coven.

Production

Development

On May 11, 2020, Murphy revealed that a spin-off series named American Horror Stories was being developed; it would feature self-contained anthological episodes, instead of a season-long story arc as featured in American Horror Story.[2] The first season consists of seven episodes.[3] On August 13, 2021, FX renewed the series for a second season of eight episodes.[1][4]

Casting

Matt Bomer, Gavin Creel, Sierra McCormick, Paris Jackson, Belissa Escobedo, Merrin Dungey, Selena Sloan, Ashley Martin Carter, Valerie Loo, Kaia Gerber, Aaron Tveit and Celia Finkelstein starred in the first two episodes.[5][6] Other American Horror Story alums who appeared in the first season include Naomi Grossman, John Carroll Lynch, Charles Melton, Billie Lourd, Chad James Buchanan, Cody Fern, Dylan McDermott and Jamie Brewer along with newcomers Rhenzy Feliz, Madison Bailey, Ben J. Pierce, Leonardo Cecchi, Kyle Red Silverstein, Brandon Papo, Amy Grabow, Adrienne Barbeau, Kevin McHale, Nico Greetham, Dyllón Burnside, Taneka Johnson, Danny Trejo, Ronen Rubinstein, Virginia Gardner, Vanessa E. Williams, Michael B. Silver, Kimberley Drummond, Jake Choi, Misha Gonz-Cirkl, Tiffany Dupont, Blake Shields, Colin Tandberg, Mercedes Mason, Noah Cyrus, Adam Hagenbuch, John Brotherton, Nicolas Bechtel and Tom Lenk.[7][8]

Nico Greetham and Cody Fern returned for the second season. Denis O'Hare, Matt Lasky, Gabourey Sidibe, Max Greenfield, Austin Woods, Seth Gabel, Rebecca Dayan, Cameron Cowperthwaite, Spencer Neville and Teddy Sears, who appeared in previous seasons of American Horror Story, appeared in the second season along with newcomers Kristine Froseth, Houston Towe, Abby Corrigan, Simone Recasner, Maryssa Menendez, Emily Morales-Cabrera, Caitlin Dulany, Joel Swetow, Lily Rohren, Vince Yap, Nancy Linehan Charles, Bella Thorne, Anthony De La Torre, Billie Bodega, Julia Schlaepfer, Addison Timlin, Ian Sharkey, Dominique Jackson, Quvenzhané Wallis, Raven Scott, Kyla Drew, Kyanna Simone, Shane Callahan, Ryan Madison, Tiffany Yvonne Cox, Judith Light, Britt Lower, Todd Waring, Cornelia Guest, Madison Iseman, Jeff Doucette, Sara Silva, Jessika Van, Chelsea M. Davis, Alicia Silverstone, Olivia Rouyre, Bobby Hogan, Heather Wynters and Jarrod Crawford.[9][10]

Filming

On August 4, 2020, it was announced that Sarah Paulson was set to direct an episode on the series; she ultimately did not do so.[11]

Title sequences

Every episode of the series has its own title sequence, with the exception of the first and second episodes, which share the same one, to connect to the theme of each episode. The title sequence was created by Elastic. The same theme music and font of American Horror Story is used during the opening credits. "The Naughty List", the fourth episode of the first season, uses the same remix of the theme music as American Horror Story: 1984 but high pitched.

Episodes

SeasonEpisodesOriginally released
First releasedLast released
17July 15, 2021 (2021-07-15)August 19, 2021 (2021-08-19)
28July 21, 2022 (2022-07-21)September 8, 2022 (2022-09-08)

Season 1 (2021)

No.
overall
No. in
season
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal release date
11"Rubber(wo)Man Part One"Loni PeristereRyan Murphy & Brad FalchukJuly 15, 2021 (2021-07-15)

Scarlett Winslow and her house-flipping fathers Michael and Troy move into the infamous Murder House. Scarlett sneaks out to attend a sleepover at her crush Maya's house. Later that night, Maya invites Scarlett back to her bedroom away from the others. They kiss and Scarlett shares her violent sexual desires. Texts from her best friend Shanti reveal to Scarlett that Maya and her friends are pulling a cruel prank on her by live-streaming their conversation. To get revenge after a fantasy of one while masturbating, Scarlett lures Maya and her friends to the basement of Murder House, where she murders them, while wearing the Rubber Man suit. The next day, Scarlett opens her door to find the Rubber Man outside.


Cast : Matt Bomer, Gavin Creel, Sierra McCormick, Paris Jackson, Belissa Escobedo, Merrin Dungey, Selena Sloan, Ashley Martin Carter, Valerie Loo
22"Rubber(wo)Man Part Two"Loni PeristereBrad FalchukJuly 15, 2021 (2021-07-15)

Scarlett forms a relationship with Ruby, the ghost of a young woman who snuck into the Murder House to commit suicide as they relax in the same bathtub. Troy begins to cheat on Michael with a contractor named Adam. After discovering the bodies of Maya and her friends behind a brick wall, Adam blackmails Michael and Troy only to be slain by the Rubber Man. Michael and Troy try to flee the house, but find they cannot leave. They find out that they were murdered earlier in an effort on Ruby's behalf to persuade Scarlett to stay with her in the Murder House forever. On Halloween, Scarlett and Ruby venture out of the house. The ghosts of Maya and her friends pursue them to get revenge on Scarlett, but they are unsuccessful. At dawn, Scarlett resolves to move out of the Murder House while promising Ruby that she will visit her every Halloween.


Cast : Matt Bomer, Gavin Creel, Sierra McCormick, Kaia Gerber, Paris Jackson, Belissa Escobedo, Merrin Dungey, Aaron Tveit, Selena Sloan, Ashley Martin Carter, Valerie Loo, Celia Finkelstein
33"Drive In"Eduardo SánchezManny CotoJuly 22, 2021 (2021-07-22)

Kelley and her boyfriend Chad attend a drive-in screening of a banned film "Rabbit Rabbit". The film was banned thanks to Tipper Gore after it caused the premiere's audience to kill each other upon their eyes turning black. The film's director Larry Bitterman attacks Tipper at a congressional hearing after she gloats about the studio burning all remaining copies. He is subsequently jailed for the assault. In the present, Kelley and Chad make out as the film starts. Unable to see "Rabbit Rabbit" through fogged-up windows, they are unaffected as mass violence erupts. Everyone who watches the film is attacking and devouring one another. Kelley and Chad flee to the projection room and destroy the film. Hours pass and instead of going to the cops, the two decide to find Larry and force him to hand over all copies. Once found, Kelley shoots Larry's kneecaps and Chad burns the original film. Larry taunts them as his trailer burns down and they leave him for dead. The two go back to Chad's and celebrate. As they kiss, the camera pans to "Rabbit Rabbit" being promoted on Netflix. Then the window shows the Los Angeles skyline erupting in flames.


Cast : Rhenzy Feliz, Madison Bailey, Ben J. Pierce, Naomi Grossman, Leonardo Cecchi, Kyle Red Silverstein, Amy Grabow, Adrienne Barbeau, John Carroll Lynch
44"The Naughty List"Max WinklerManny CotoJuly 29, 2021 (2021-07-29)

Influencers Wyatt, Zinn, Barry, and James live in a content house and have a collaborative YouTube channel. Their channel begins losing subscribers after they post a video of a man jumping off a bridge. After failing to regain their popularity by queer baiting, the boys film a prank video at a mall's Santa Village where they make fun of a Mall Santa. On Christmas Eve, the boys upload the video and they get a call from a detective stating that the Santa in their video was an imposter as the real Mall Santa was found dead. The imposter Santa descends upon their house, killing Wyatt and Zinn and uploading their deaths onto the Bro House channel. Barry and James try to escape the house but the killer Santa shoots them down in the driveway. James is killed and Barry drags himself back into the house. Their channel reaches five million subscribers as the killer Santa pours gasoline down the chimney and sets the house and Barry on fire. On Christmas Day, the police find the boys' body parts adorning their Christmas tree. The killer Santa prepares to murder another Mall Santa.


Cast : Kevin McHale, Nico Greetham, Dyllón Burnside, Charles Melton, Taneka Johnson, Danny Trejo
55"BA'AL"Sanaa HamriAli Adler & Manny CotoAugust 5, 2021 (2021-08-05)

After several failed attempts to get pregnant, Liv Whitley receives a totem from Bernadette, the receptionist at a fertility clinic, and places it under her bed just before she and her husband Matt have sex. The totem works and Liv has a son, Aaron. Sixteen months later, Liv is suffering from postpartum depression and begins seeing visions of Ba'al, a demon haunting her child. Liv seeks out Bernadette, who shares a banishment ritual with her. Liv accidentally stabs Matt while performing the ritual and is committed to an asylum. It is revealed that Matt and his college friends had orchestrated every supernatural event to gaslight Liv, as well as having an affair with Bernadette. As Matt celebrates his success, the real Ba'al appears and slaughters Bernadette and Matt's friends. It is revealed that Liv sent Ba’al to exact revenge. The banishment ritual Bernadette gave her was actually a summoning spell. Matt is sent to prison and Liv welcomes Ba’al into her bed, ready to have another baby with him.


Cast : Billie Lourd, Ronen Rubinstein, Virginia Gardner, Vanessa Estelle Williams, Michael B. Silver, Kimberley Drummond, Chad James Buchanan, Jake Choi, Misha Gonz-Cirkl
66"Feral"Manny CotoManny CotoAugust 12, 2021 (2021-08-12)

A boy named Jacob Gantz disappears on a camping trip with his parents Jay and Addy. Ten years later, a hunter named Bob offers to take them into the woods to find Jacob. Once there, the group is hunted by wild deformed humans. Bob reveals it was all a hoax and he plans to rob them. Bob is attacked and devoured by the wild humans. Jay and Addy seek refuge at a ranger station staffed by a park ranger named Stan. He divulges that the National Park Service was created by the government to protect the public from the "Feral Nation", a subpopulation of feral cannibals that have an indeterminate origin. As Stan tries to radio his superiors, the ranger station is attacked by the ferals and Stan is killed by a rafter feral. Jay and Addy flee and find that their now-grown son is now the leader of the ferals and sitting on a throne of bones. When a tall bearded feral asks Jacob who they are, he responds in their language "dinner". The ferals swarm over Jay and Addy to devour them as a blood sample falls on Jacob's cheek which he wipes off.


Cast : Cody Fern, Aaron Tveit, Tiffany Dupont, Blake Shields, Colin Tandberg
77"Game Over"Liz FriedlanderRyan Murphy & Brad FalchukAugust 19, 2021 (2021-08-19)

Video game designer Michelle enters the Murder House on Halloween Night to conduct research for her newest game, based on the legend of the house. While there, she is stabbed to death by Ruby and Scarlett. One year later on Halloween, Michelle finds her son Rory and claims there is no escaping the Murder House. Rory offers to burn it down, but Michelle refuses. Ignoring his mother, Rory shows up with gasoline canisters. While Ruby tries to stop him, she in turn is stopped by the other ghosts who are tired of their suffering. As Scarlett arrives to help Ruby, the house is set ablaze. Three years later, condos have been built where the Murder House once stood and Scarlett purchases the last unit to reunite with Ruby who mentioned that the other ghosts have crossed over. It turns out that the events of the story have been a playthrough of the finished video game which Rory is impressed with.


Cast : Dylan McDermott, Sierra McCormick, Kaia Gerber, Paris Jackson, Merrin Dungey, Mercedes Mason, Noah Cyrus, Adam Hagenbuch, Jamie Brewer, John Brotherton, Nicolas Bechtel, Tom Lenk, Selena Sloan, Ashley Martin Carter, Valerie Loo

Season 2 (2022)

No.
overall
No. in
season
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal release date
81"Dollhouse"Loni PeristereManny CotoJuly 21, 2022 (2022-07-21)

Crazed dollmaker Van Wirt kidnaps Coby to bring her to his personal doll collection on his property. She joins several other kidnapped women: Aurelia, Harlene, Faye and Bonnie. They tell Coby that after murdering his adulterous wife, Van Wirt wants a replacement mother for his son Otis and has decided that the women should compete for the honor in a "pageant." Otis warms to Coby, who entertains him with her powers of telekinesis. During the pageant, Faye and Bonnie fail Van Wirt's tests and are killed. The remaining women plot to escape. Coby refuses to leave without going back for Otis, but is captured and Van Wirt's assistant Eustace kills Harlene and Aurelia. Since Coby risked her life to save Otis, Van Wirt declares her the winner and encases her in plastic to serve as a living "doll." However, two witches arrive and identify Coby as one of them. They rescue her and set fire to the house, killing Van Wirt and Eustace. Coby and Otis join the witches at Miss Robichaux's Academy. Now going by his middle name of Spalding for his own safety, Otis meets a girl named Myrtle Snow.


Cast : Denis O'Hare, Kristine Froseth, Houston Jax Towe, Abby Corrigan, Simone Recasner, Maryssa Menendez, Emily Morales-Cabrera, Matt Lasky, Caitlin Dulany
92"Aura"Max WinklerManny CotoJuly 28, 2022 (2022-07-28)

After moving home, Jaslyn buys Aura, a smart doorbell device. Aura's camera shows her an old man outside; he calls out to her by name and attempts to enter, but there is no trace of him. Jaslyn's husband Bryce believes it is a prank, but she realizes the man is the ghost of Mr. Hendricks, the janitor at her high school. Hendricks apologizes for sexually harassing her in the past, then disappears. Another ghost soon appears via Aura, and Bryce again insists it is a prank. Jaslyn learns that Aura detects spirits through electromagnetism and that the ghost Mary Jeane died in an apparent hit and run. Bryce confesses he was previously engaged to Mary Jeane, but pushed her in front of a car after learning she was pregnant; the car did not kill her, so he broke her neck. He attacks Jaslyn, but is killed by Mary Jeane's ghost. Three months later, Jaslyn has moved into a new apartment that has Aura installed. Bryce's enraged ghost appears on Aura's camera and attempts to break into the apartment.


Cast : Gabourey Sidibe, Max Greenfield, Joel Swetow, Lily Rohren, Vince Yap, Nancy Linehan Charles
103"Drive"Yangzom BrauenManny CotoAugust 4, 2022 (2022-08-04)

At the end of a night out, Marci is chased by an unknown man in a Jeep. She is determined to continue partying in clubs, despite being warned by her husband Chaz about news reports of local people disappearing from clubs. Chaz feels that their open marriage is no longer working and decides to separate from her. Meanwhile, her friend Piper is critical of Marci's lifestyle. Marci traces the Jeep's owner Paul and she later follows him home. Paul says he chased her on the road to warn her that someone was in the back seat of her car. Marci reveals that she is a serial killer and goes to clubs to find victims, one of whom he saw in her car. She tortures and kills Paul as a witness to that murder. Chaz agrees to give their marriage another chance and to help Marci with the murders, which she believes will bring them closer together. Sometime later, Chaz and Marci kill Piper together.


Cast : Bella Thorne, Nico Greetham, Anthony De La Torre, Billie Bodega, Austin Woods
114"Milkmaids"Alonso Alvarez-BarredaOur Lady JAugust 11, 2022 (2022-08-11)

In 18th-century New England, a village has been devastated by smallpox. Thomas Browne tells the village pastor Walter of rumors that smallpox can be cured by eating the hearts of recently deceased victims. Walter does so and encourages his congregation to follow suit. The local people shun the prostitute Celeste who had tried to warn them that Walter is corrupt. She takes refuge with a milkmaid named Delilah and the two begin a relationship. Delilah realizes that she and Celeste have previously contracted cowpox and this has given them immunity to smallpox. As the villagers eat hearts straight from the corpses of the dead, Delilah begs them to stop and offers them milk from an infected cow to protect against the disease. Walter publicly denounces her. He assaults Celeste and stabs Thomas, who reveals that Celeste is the mother of his son Edward. Delilah kills Walter, but is herself killed by Thomas before he dies from his injuries. Unaware that Celeste is his biological mother, Edward repeats Walter's statement that a milkmaid is unclean and cuts out her heart to eat.


Cast : Cody Fern, Julia Schlaepfer, Seth Gabel, Addison Timlin, Ian Sharkey
125"Bloody Mary"S.J. Main MuñozAngela L. HarveyAugust 18, 2022 (2022-08-18)

Sisters Elise and Bianca hear from their friend Lena Lawrence about the legend of Bloody Mary who will grant the desires of those that swear loyalty to her. The girls each summon Mary, who instructs them to use unethical means (such as hurting someone) to get what they want. Lena and another friend named Maggie disobey Mary's orders and are subsequently found dead. Elise discovers that Mary was an escaped slave and was held at a cabin after being re-captured. With this information, Elise and Bianca devise a plan to summon Mary at the cabin and kill her. Mary appears and Elise reveals that Mary asked her for blood from three innocent people; she killed Lena and Maggie and now intends to kill Bianca. However, Bianca kills Elise in self-defence. Mary explains that her spirit became trapped after she misused the powers of the deity Mami Wata for revenge. Bianca fulfills her promise by offering her soul to Mary. This releases Mary and Bianca replaces her as the new "Bloody Mary" as she makes plans on what to do with anyone who plans to summon her.


Cast : Dominique Jackson, Quvenzhané Wallis, Raven Scott, Kyla Drew, Kyanna Simone, Shane Callahan, Ryan D. Madison, Tiffany Yvonne Cox
136"Facelift"Marcus StokesManny CotoAugust 25, 2022 (2022-08-25)

Virginia Mallow, a woman in late middle age, wishes to look younger. Her acquaintance Cassie refers her to Dr. Enid Perle who carries out anti-aging procedures. While recovering, Virginia suffers excruciating pain and is tormented by visions of demons. She rejects her stepdaughter Fay who views Virginia as her real mother. Virginia is moved to Perle's private lodge to assist with recovery. Fay has become suspicious of Perle and follows Virginia to the lodge, but is caught and sedated by security. Virginia's bandages are removed and she sees that Perle has given her a disfigured porcine face. Perle and her staff are a cult that worships beauty and Virginia is to be their annual ritual sacrifice to the deity Étaín. Virginia is released onto the lodge grounds and attempts to escape, but is hunted down and killed by the cult members including Cassie. Perle tells a distraught Fay that her birth mother was one of Étaín's followers. Later, a more confident Fay returns to university with the cult's signature butterfly tattoo. She recognizes a young man as another member of the cult who asks about it. They walk together to their destination.


Cast : Judith Light, Rebecca Dayan, Britt Lower, Todd Waring, Cornelia Guest
147"Necro"Logan KibensCrystal LiuSeptember 1, 2022 (2022-09-01)

In 2022, Sam is a mortician in California, working under Henderson, who has trouble connecting with anyone due to finding her mother murdered when she was just a toddler back in 1998. While working, she meets Charlie who also works at the mortuary as a new body removal technician. They form a kinship over their shared beliefs about the dead. After sharing his own personal trauma, he tries to get Sam to open up about hers. A misguided attempt to do so involving Charlie posing as a corpse and Sam having sex with him leads her to reevaluate her life. However, video evidence of her actions follows her everywhere making her unable to find other employments and leads to a confrontation between Sam and Charlie in a graveyard where they acknowledge that they are the only ones who understand each other. Sam then shoots Charlie and joins him in a freshly dug grave, making out with Charlie's corpse as it is being filled back in.


Cast : Madison Iseman, Cameron Cowperthwaite, Spencer Neville, Jeff Doucette, Sara Silva, Jessika Van, Chelsea M. Davis
158"Lake"Tessa BlakeManny CotoSeptember 8, 2022 (2022-09-08)

Jake and his sister Finn dive into Lake Preston and explore its bottom where a hand drags Jake and drowns him. Four months later, Finn returns home after leaving a mental health facility. After their mother Erin gets startled from seeing Jake's hand emerging from the bathwater, she researches and dives into Lake Preston. Erin finds Jake's corpse and three skeletons chained to a concrete pillar and removes one's necklace. Erin and Finn meet Millie Boone who explains that the necklace is tied to the Boone family and that it belonged to her great-grandfather Maynard who was amongst the three opposing Wrede Prescott's development of the dam and that he was among those left to drown during the formation of Lake Preston. Jeffrey catches up to them and mentions he is part of the Prescott family. Erin realizes that the underwater attacks are retribution towards the Prescott family. A mob of zombies emerge from Lake Preston and drag Jeffrey in. Finn and Erin mourn him whilst conferring that the secrets about the dam's development will eventually be discovered.


Cast : Alicia Silverstone, Olivia Rouyre, Teddy Sears, Bobby Hogan, Heather Wynters, Jarrod Crawford

Marketing

On November 12, 2020, Murphy unveiled a promotional poster of the series via his Instagram account and announced a first season of sixteen hour-long episodes, many of which will feature actors who have appeared in American Horror Story.[12]

On June 23, 2021, FX released two more promotional posters for the show and a teaser trailer that featured the Rubber Woman.[13][14] On July 8, 2021, FX released the official trailer for the series.[15] On June 21, 2022, FX released the promotional poster for the second season.[16] On June 30, 2022, FX released the official teaser trailer for the second season that featured humanoid dolls.[17] On July 13, 2022, FX released the official trailer for the second season.[18]

Release

The series was set to air on FX;[2] however, on June 22, 2020, it was announced that American Horror Stories would stream on FX on Hulu instead.[19] American Horror Stories premiered on July 15, 2021.[20][3] Internationally, the series became available through Disney+ under the dedicated streaming hub Star starting on August 25, 2021.[21] In Latin America, the series premieres as a Star+ original.

Reception

Audience viewership

According to Whip Media's viewership tracking app TV Time, American Horror Stories was the second most anticipated new television series during the month of July 2021,[22] and the second most anticipated returning television series during the month of July 2022.[23] According to Whip Media, American Horror Stories was the tenth most streamed original television series across all platforms, in the United States, during the week of August 7, 2022,[24] the ninth during the week of August 21, 2022,[25] the seventh during the week of August 28, 2022,[26] the fifth during the week of September 4, 2022,[27] and the fifth during the week of September 11, 2022.[28]

Critical response

On the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, American Horror Stories has an overall score of 66%.[29]

Season 1

On Rotten Tomatoes, the first season has a score of 52% with an average score of 4.6/10, based on 39 reviews. The website's critics consensus is, "American Horror Stories has its moments, but a lack of consistent narrative quality among installments and not enough scares make for an unsatisfying whole."[30] On Metacritic, the season scored 54 out of 100, based on 5 reviews, indicating “mixed or average reviews.”[31]

Inkoo Kang of The Washington Post stated, "Murphy and Falchuk have created a supercharged version of their own show with the spinoff “American Horror Stories,” which debuted last week on FX on Hulu. The series, which will feature new stories with each episode (rather than every season), is off to a promising start with “Rubber(wo)Man,” its two-part premiere. Set in the “Murder House” where the first iteration of “American Horror Story” took place, the definitely lower-budget but winkingly fun episodes channel the juiciest elements of that season, a barbed sendup of Los Angeles narcissism with a love-hate relationship to Old Hollywood and a deliberately queasy teen romance fueling the bloody antics."[32] Phil Owen of TheWrap asserted, "There’s a pattern we’ve seen play out with “American Horror Story” during each of the past several seasons: A compelling start, followed by a steady decline into incoherence. The process has been speeding up — “AHS: 1984,” the most recent season, was off the rails by the midway point. This is the double-edged sword of the Ryan Murphy brand. The shows under his umbrella are loud, boisterous, audacious, hilarious, intense — and generally just not like other shows. While that uniqueness and that tonally erratic signature is the reason we watch this stuff, it also makes it easier for things to get out of control because it's really tough to balance all those moods “American Horror Stories,” which is streaming only through FX on Hulu, provides what feels like the perfect solution to that problem, by keeping its stories bite-sized. Yes, the two stories we’ve gotten so far have each followed the “AHS” pattern — the compelling initial premise that leads to an off-the-rails conclusion — but they don't wear out their welcome."[33] Erin Maxwell of LA Weekly said, "American Horror Stories is about mayhem and monsters and the blood of the innocent. It's about everything and anything Ryan Murphy can do with the color red, in fact. In Murphy's world, mutilated penises and latex-adorned serial killers are a dime a dozen, even if coherent stories are not. If you're a fan of the series and the deranged universe it inhabits, well, good news! All of those elements remain intact, sans the meandering narratives that seemed to stretch into eternity, and made a lot of us give up on past seasons. American Horror Stories is a gruesome, gross-out trip that will leave viewers with an uneasy feeling of terror – a perfect addition to the AHS universe."[34]

Joel Keller of Decider wrote, "American Horror Stories takes Murphy’s and Falchuk’s indulgences and compresses them down so they’re easier to tolerate. Yes, they’re still there, but the time limitations help them concentrate on story, character and gore, which is why people like the AHS franchise so much."[35] Cheryl Eddy of Gizmodo called American Horror Stories a "dark and twisted delight," saying, "Some of these entries are more effective than others—“Drive In” owes so much to John Carpenter's Masters of Horror episode “Cigarette Burns” that it can't be a coincidence that frequent Carpenter leading lady Adrienne Barbeau has a role in it. But they're all energetic and entertaining, telling separate stories that nonetheless cohere with American Horror Story’s in-your-face approach to sex and gore. And it’s worth noting this isn’t The Twilight Zone or even Shudder’s excellent Creepshow (speaking of Barbeau), which tend to build their stories around characters who need to be taught a lesson or handed down some kind of comeuppance. “The Naughty List” does take a particularly ruthless approach to punishing the odious social-media stars who populate its story, and American Horror Stories absolutely loves to drop surprises in the final moments of its episodes. But this show isn't piloted by a standard-issue moral compass; much like American Horror Story, American Horror Stories is mostly just determined to shock you. Gleefully. And most of the time, it succeeds."[36] Dan Auty of GameSpot included American Horror Stories in their "16 Best Horror Shows To Watch On Hulu" in October 2021, stating, "Rather than tell the same story across an entire season, this new spin-off from American Horror Story delivers standalone self-contained episodes. Some of the first season's seven episodes are linked to previous AHS characters, while others are entirely new--but all deliver the same mix of creepy horror, surreal humor, and melodrama as the main show."[37]

Kristen Lopez of IndieWire graded the first season with a "D," stating, "The cast in every episode is pretty solid, made up of a mix of Murphy alumni, children of celebrities, and others who probably had nothing to do in Los Angeles during this pandemic. But too often the series refuses to trust its talent; the pilot alone has the likes of Bomer, Creel, Aaron Tveit, and Merrin Dungey yet barely gives them anything to do. Danny Trejo is only there to stare menacingly. And who wastes Adrienne Barbeau in a horror series? Any goodwill built into the Murphy Television Universe is pretty depleted already, and “American Horror Stories” is another example of what feels like fumes being used to create a fire. The show is the entertainment equivalent of empty calories. It's good enough to watch in the moment, but you'll either leave feeling nothing, or with a nasty stomach ache."[38] Angelica Guarino of Common Sense Media rated the first season 2 out of 5 stars, writing, "American Horror Stories is a horror-comedy show spearheaded by the same creative team behind the 2011 release American Horror Story; most elements in American Horror Storiesare remarkably similar to the original. This title continues to capitalize on creator Ryan Murphy's trademark attempt at balancing comedy and drama to create a uniquely cringe-worthy tone. Also true to the original is the emphasis on sex and violence. American Horror Stories contains graphic sequences of gore and use of weapons, as well as content linking teen sexuality and violence in disturbing ways."[39]

Season 2

On Rotten Tomatoes, the second season has a score of 80% with average rating of 6.30/10, based on 5 reviews.[40]

Swara Ramaswamy of The Michigan Daily stated, "The second season of “American Horror Stories” had its fair share of gems, and it almost makes up for the fact that we don't have much information about season eleven of “American Horror Story.” While the episodes were drastically different from each other, there was no trouble getting into the plot. And while several episodes delivered the sense of endless dread characteristic of “AHS,” it was evident that a few others lost their way. Murphy and Falchuk showed us that the perfect balance of plot, acting and callbacks to fan-favorite episodes of “American Horror Story” makes for a successful spinoff of a beloved show."[41] Johnny Loftus of Decider wrote, "The episodic pace of American Horror Stories keeps the action lean and satisfying, and its sense of humor is as welcome as the foreboding and sidelong connections back into the AHS narrative mothership."[42] Vanessa Maki of The Mary Sue asserted, "American Horror Stories season 2 was a tremendous improvement. Almost every episode popped off and several were simply *chef’s kiss.* They fixed many of the bugs and issues in the first season, and now, it’s truly living up to its promise."[43]

Robert Vaux of CBR.com said, "The first season couldn't quite escape that shadow, with a few good episodes (and several fair-to-middling ones) scattered amid multiple unnecessary excursions back to the franchise's infamous Murder House. Season 2 upped its game, making just a single pointed reference to its parent series and focusing on telling good stories rather than reminding people where it came from."[44] Brecken Hunter Wellborn of Collider praised Nico Greetham's performance across the second season of American Horror Stories, asserting, "Significantly, Greetham’s performance in “Drive” is drastically different from the work he did in either of his original AHS outings. [...] Though he has now made three supporting appearances in the franchise, American Horror Stories Season 2 proves the AHS franchise needs to make Greetham a leading member of the franchise's recurring ensemble."[45] Nick Perry, Michileen Martin, and Blair Marnell of Digital Trends included American Horror Stories in their "Best Hulu original series" list of October 2022.[46]

Accolades

Year Award Category Nominee(s) Result Ref(s)
2022 Make-Up Artists and Hair Stylists Guild Awards Television Series, Limited or Miniseries or Television New Media Series – Best Contemporary Make-Up Tyson Fountaine, Melissa Buell, Ron Pipes, and Gage Munster Won [47][48]
Television Series, Limited or Miniseries or Television New Media Series – Best Special Makeup Effects Jason Hamer, Cale Thomas, Hiroshi Yada, and Cary Ayers Nominated
Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards Outstanding Contemporary Hairstyling Valerie Jackson, Lauren Poole, Roma Goddard, and Allison Keck (for "Game Over") Nominated [49]
Outstanding Contemporary Makeup (Non-Prosthetic) Tyson Fountaine, Elizabeth Kellogg, Elizabeth Briseno, Ron Pipes, Gage Munster, Heather Cummings, Michael Johnston and Lufeng Qu (for "Rubber(wo)Man: Part One" and "Rubber(wo)Man: Part Two") Nominated
Set Decorators Society of America Awards Best Achievement in Décor/Design of a One Hour Fantasy or Science Fiction Series Sandra Skora and Eve McCarney Nominated [50]

References

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American Story