I love television, and I love being a part of things. I’m also, as the kids say, a scaredy-cat. I’m afraid of the dark and things that go bump in the night. I have what you might call American Horror Story: FOMO. Why, then, am I the right person to rank every season of American Horror Story from most to least watchable? Hear me out on this. The first season of AHS aired when I was a junior in college, and my curiosity was piqued by creepy promos and Tami Taylor (I was binging Friday Night Lights for the first time). Reader, let me tell you in no uncertain terms: I made a big mistake. I was terrified from the jump. The introduction scared me! I shared a room with a friend who was never there, and ended up leaving all my lights on and my computer playing at all times so I wouldn’t have to think about it. I couldn’t handle it. It was pure terror… but I kept watching. Parts of it were delicious. I loved the Twisted Nerve whistle, and all the weird sexy stuff, and being unnerved by Jessica Lange. When I was too intrigued to be scared, I was totally game. Pretty soon, though, things took a turn for the horrifying, and I felt as traumatized as the girl who was mean to Violet at high school. I gave up, and forced an old roommate to fill me in on the details. Not long after the series wrapped, the whole dang world decided it was Art, and Important, and I got jealous because I wanted to play, too.
So, I kept trying, and trust me: No one is more qualified to offer recommendations to their fellow scaredy-cats. Here’s a list of every American Horror Story season ranked from best to worst for newbies like myself. May we all be blessed with the fortitude to attempt AHS: Apocalypse some time this weekend — with the lights on, after googling how it ends.
A New Orleans-based school for witches staffed by Frances Conroy with personal appearances by Stevie Nicks? Sign me up. Sign me ALL THE WAY UP. Yeah, this one has some pretty ghastly murder scenes. It also has a tendency to kill off (and immediately resurrect) its leads. It keeps ruining its own stakes, but that’s what helps ‘fraidy-cats like yours truly actually enjoy it. It’s campy, funny, and absurd. It’s frightening, but in a less unsettling way than other seasons.
Roanoke has its moments, but it’s more creepy than scary. You’ll want to have a drink before you finish the last few episodes, but there’s something sobering about Lady Gaga scampering around on all fours like a forest creature.
Look, some people are afraid of clowns, but I am not one of them. Arguably the campiest of the series, this sideshow-centric season is visually upsetting, but easier to stomach than its brethren. Once it falls into a routine, it almost becomes watchable — even through laced fingers. Plus, Jessica Lange performs “Life On Mars” by David Bowie for some fabulous reason.
Murderous clowns? The 2016 election? Snore. Still, its compelling social narrative is enough to upset me. It hits close to home. If a show is cult-related, I’d rather it be a cult in the traditional sense — or at least something I’m familiar with.
Even the previews for Hotel freaked me out. It was either panned or beloved by critics — there was no in-between. It’s the most needlessly, proudly violent of the bunch, further marred by so-so storytelling and not enough Lady Gaga. It’s a hard pass from me.
I’m listing AHS: Murder House as the second most frightening run of the series. It might not be for most people, but it is for me. This season has everything: murder, ghosts, gore, some really grisly reenactments, shock value, completely baffling plot lines, and an incredible twist ending. It’s slightly more serious and less campy than those that came after it, but it’s the original, and it gets so many points for that.
No. Absolutely not. I will never. And if you’re reading this article and any of it resonated with you, you shouldn’t either. Often celebrated as the series’ best season, Asylum is the epitome of everything I will never watch. I am decidedly not interested in witnessing psychological torment in my free time — no matter how cool Chloë Sevigny is. It’s supposedly genius storytelling, but no thank you.
So, will I be watching American Horror Story: Apocalypse?
Maybe! Potentially! It pays homage to AHS: Coven and AHS: Murder House, the two seasons I’m most comfortable with. It depends on a lot of things, of course — jump scares, unexplained phenomena, sudden, grisly violence just for the sake of it — but really, it’s all about whether I feel up for it. If you’ve ever been intrigued by something you know you spook too easily for, you’ll get it. And if you’re a dedicated viewer of the show, I admire you, I respect you, and I have a lot of questions for you.
I hope you like American Horror Story: Apocalypse as much as I enjoy hiding from it (and its commercials).
Can I text you to ask how the first episode ends?
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