American Horror Story: Murder House
|American Horror Story:
Promotional poster and home media cover art
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of episodes||12|
|Original release||October 5– December 21, 2011|
American Horror Story: Murder House (originally titled as American Horror Story) is the first season of the FX television series American Horror Story, aired between October 5, 2011, through December 21, 2011. The season was produced by 20th Century Fox Television, and the executive producers were Dante Di Loreto and series creators Brad Falchuk and Ryan Murphy.
It centers on the Harmon family: Dr. Ben Harmon, Vivien and their daughter Violet, who move from Boston to Los Angeles after Vivien has a miscarriage and Ben has an affair. They move into a restored mansion, unaware that the house is haunted by the ghosts of its former residents and their victims.
The first season of American Horror Story received generally positive reviews from critics. The series drew consistently high ratings for the FX network, ending its first season as the biggest new cable series of the year. The season was nominated for various industry awards, including the Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series – Drama, and received a total of seventeen Emmy Award nominations. In addition, Lange won the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress, the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series, and the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie.
Characters from Murder House made appearances in the series' fifth season, Hotel. Christine Estabrook returned as Marcy, the nosy realtor. Matt Ross, who portrayed Dr. Charles Montgomery, appeared in the episode "Room 33" and Sarah Paulson reprised her role as Billie Dean Howard in the season finale, "Be Our Guest".
- 1 Plot of the show
- 2 Cast and characters
- 3 Episodes
- 4 Production
- 5 Reception
- 6 Home media release
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Plot of the show
The first season follows the Harmon family: Ben (Dylan McDermott), Vivien (Connie Britton) and Violet (Taissa Farmiga), who move from Boston to Los Angeles to start a new life in a Victorian mansion, after Vivien has a miscarriage and Ben has an affair with Hayden (Kate Mara), one of his students. On arrival, they learn from Marcy (Christine Estabrook), the real estate agent, that the previous owners of their new mansion, a couple named Chad and Patrick (Zachary Quinto and Teddy Sears), died in an apparent murder/suicide. Their neighbor Constance (Jessica Lange) and her daughter Addie (Jamie Brewer) become frequent, and mostly unwelcome, guests. Addie seems to have a connection with the house's mysterious past. Larry Harvey (Denis O'Hare), a former resident of the house who has suffered from terrible burns, also begins inserting himself into the Harmons' lives, giving Ben a cryptic warning about the house. The house also "comes with" Moira O'Hara (Frances Conroy/Alexandra Breckenridge), a housekeeper who appears young and seductive to men, but old and matronly to women.
Ben begins seeing patients out of his home office. One in particular, a possibly psychotic teenage boy named Tate Langdon (Evan Peters), takes interest in kindred spirit Violet, who suffers from depression. Ben is unaware that Tate is both a ghost and the son of Constance. As the family settles into the home, bizarre events begin to occur with increasing regularity. It is soon revealed that there have been upwards of 20 violent deaths in the home over the course of its history, so much so that it has come to be known as "The Murder House". The family struggles with their own personal tribulations, oblivious to the reality that their home is haunted by ghosts. While exploring the attic, Vivien discovers a latex bondage suit. She later is raped by a man wearing it, who she believes is Ben, but is actually Tate. Vivien's rape results in the rare occurrence of becoming pregnant with twins by different fathers. It is later revealed that Tate's motive in having sex with Vivien was to conceive a baby for Nora (Lily Rabe), a ghost in the house who lost her own child. Hayden comes from Boston and tries to blackmail Ben into abandoning Vivien, so they can start their relationship over, threatening to tell Vivien that she's pregnant with Ben's baby. She is killed by Larry and buried by Ben in the house grounds, thus coming back as a ghost. Several ghosts in the house, including Hayden and Nora, conspire to drive Vivien mad so that they can raise the babies as their own.
On Halloween, the one day in which the dead can walk among the living, Violet learns that Tate is an infamous school shooter, who killed a library full of his classmates (as well as crippling a teacher and setting Larry Harvey on fire) to punish his mother Constance for having Tate's younger (and deformed) brother euthanized. Addie is run over by a car, and Constance fails to get her corpse to the Harmon's property in time to imprison her spirit so that she can be reunited with her brother's ghost. Vivien, meanwhile, learns from the "Murder House Tour" that the house was the home of a back alley abortionist and that the still-living monster in the basement of the house is the creation of the doctor, whose son was killed by a patient's vengeful boyfriend, dismembered and resurrected as the monstrous "Infantata".
Faced with the monster Tate is, and her own romantic feelings for him, Violet kills herself, something she doesn't realize was successful until weeks later when she discovers she cannot leave the house. After many ghosts, Vivien is committed to an insane asylum, while Ben is convinced that the second twin was fathered by Luke (Morris Chestnut), a neighborhood security officer. Meanwhile, Constance enlists the help of a medium, Billie Dean Howard (Sarah Paulson), to help her talk to Addie. Constance discovers from Billie Dean, to her horror, that Tate's child with Vivien will become the Antichrist. After Ben learns of Tate being the "Rubber Man", he has Vivien freed from the asylum.
Vivien gives birth to the twins in the house, with Moira recruiting the more benevolent ghosts of the house to help her deliver the children. Vivien and one of the newborn babies die, leaving Ben with the surviving twin. Violet breaks up with Tate after Chad reveals that Tate raped Violet's mother and murdered him and his boyfriend due to their deciding not to have a child. Ben tries to get into contact with his now dead wife and daughter, who refuse to show themselves. As he grieves he contemplates suicide to be with them. Instead, Vivien shows herself and convinces Ben to leave the house immediately for the protection of the baby. As Ben is leaving the house, he is caught and murdered by Hayden, who hangs him to simulate a suicide. Hayden attempts to take the baby, but Constance, with the help of the ghost of a lover named Travis (Michael Graziadei), whom Hayden murdered, takes the child instead. Constance hides the baby and tells the police that Ben killed himself out of grief for his wife's death and that Violet (whose body is never found) ran off with the surviving child.
Now trapped in the house, the Harmons team up with Moira and the other benevolent spirits to forbid other families from moving in by scaring them away. Meanwhile, Tate has consigned himself to living with Hayden, both of whom have been blocked out by the Harmons using a trick that Tate taught Violet. As the Harmons are decorating a Christmas tree, Tate promises to wait for Violet forever, as he and Hayden watch on through a door frame. Three years later, Constance (who left town) returns to Los Angeles, but finds that her grandson, Michael (the Antichrist), has murdered his nanny. She slowly walks towards the smiling child as he rocks back and forth. She then smiles and whispers, "Now what am I gonna do with you?"
Cast and characters
- Connie Britton as Vivien Harmon
- Dylan McDermott as Dr. Ben Harmon
- Evan Peters as Tate Langdon
- Taissa Farmiga as Violet Harmon
- Denis O'Hare as Larry Harvey
- Jessica Lange as Constance Langdon
Special guest stars
- Kate Mara as Hayden McClaine
- Zachary Quinto as Chad Warwick
- Charles S. Dutton as Detective Granger
- Eric Stonestreet as Dereck
- Frances Conroy as Moira O'Hara
- Lily Rabe as Nora Montgomery
- Alexandra Breckenridge as Young Moira O'Hara
- Jamie Brewer as Adelaide "Addie" Langdon
- Christine Estabrook as Marcy
- Morris Chestnut as Luke
- Matt Ross as Dr. Charles Montgomery
- Bodhi Schulz as Troy
- Kai Schulz as Bryan
- Michael Graziadei as Travis Wanderley
- Celia Finkelstein as Nurse Gladys
- Eve Gordon as Dr. Hall
- Rosa Salazar as Nurse Maria
- Teddy Sears as Patrick
- Azura Skye as Fiona
- Kyle Davis as Dallas
- Sarah Paulson as Billie Dean Howard
- Shelby Young as Leah
- Rebecca Wisocky as Lorraine Harvey
- Sam Kinsey as Beauregard "Beau" Langdon
- David Anthony Higgins as Stan
- Mena Suvari as Elizabeth Short
- Malaya Rivera Drew as Detective Barrios
- Ben Woolf as Thaddeus Montgomery / The Infantata
- Eric Close as Hugo Langdon
- Brando Eaton as Kyle Greenwell
- Ashley Rickards as Chloe Stapleton
- Alessandra Torresani as Stephanie Boggs
- Jordan David as Kevin Gedman
- Alexander Nimetz as Amir Stanley
|Title||Directed by||Written by||Original air date||Prod.
|1||1||"Pilot"||Ryan Murphy||Ryan Murphy & Brad Falchuk||October 5, 2011||1ATS79||3.18|
|The Harmon family moves from Boston to Los Angeles to recover from mother Vivien's (Connie Britton) miscarriage and father Ben's (Dylan McDermott) infidelity with one of his students. Daughter Violet (Taissa Farmiga) starts at a new school, only to be terrorized by a group of girls. The family deals with intrusive neighbors Constance (Jessica Lange) and her daughter, Addie (Jamie Brewer), who has Down syndrome, along with Larry (Denis O'Hare), a previous homeowner who set fire to his entire family. Larry's face is severely scarred, likely due to this incident. Ben, a psychiatrist, sees patients out of his home, one of them, a possibly psychotic boy named Tate (Evan Peters), who becomes friends with Violet. Vivien rehires the house's former housekeeper, an elderly Moira (Frances Conroy), who appears to Ben as a young, seductive maid (Alexandra Breckenridge). Ben and Vivien eventually have sex, once after a fight, and later while she thinks he has dressed up in a bondage suit. She later tells Ben she's pregnant.|
|2||2||"Home Invasion"||Alfonso Gomez-Rejon||Ryan Murphy & Brad Falchuk||October 12, 2011||1ATS01||2.46|
|After meeting with a new patient, Bianca (Mageina Tovah), Ben receives a call from his ex-mistress, Hayden (Kate Mara), who tells him she's pregnant and needs his support for an abortion. Ben lies to Vivien to resolve his past. A trio of serial killer enthusiasts led by Bianca break into the house to re-enact the brutal murders of two nursing students, Maria and Gladys, when the house was used as a dormitory in 1968. Vivien and Violet are the intended victims, but they escape their captors, who become lost in the house. Tate and the ghosts of the house dispatch the intruders. Upon hearing of what happened, Ben leaves Hayden at the clinic and rushes home. Vivien tells him that they are selling the house.|
|3||3||"Murder House"||Bradley Buecker||Jennifer Salt||October 19, 2011||1ATS02||2.59|
|The Harmon's finances take a blow, making moving impractical. Hayden surprises Ben by appearing at his doorstep; she is keeping the baby, determined to continue their affair. Vivien learns about the house's original owners: a crazed surgeon, Charles Montgomery (Matt Ross), and his wife, Nora (Lily Rabe), who provided illegal abortions in their basement, until their bitter marriage ended in murder. After spotting blood, Vivien is told by her doctor that the baby is fine. Ben passes out, and the doctor informs him that he found traces of an opiate that causes memory loss. Ben confronts Moira, who has been trying to seduce him, about poisoning his coffee with the opiate. Hayden shows up again, frantic that Ben has ignored her. As he takes her outside to calm her down, Larry kills her with a shovel to help Ben, who becomes distraught. Larry convinces him that getting rid of the body is the best option. Larry digs a hole, discovering Moira's remains, but buries Hayden over them.|
|4||4||"Halloween (Part 1)"||David Semel||James Wong||October 26, 2011||1ATS03||2.96|
|The Harmons hire interior designers ("fluffers") to make over the house to help it sell, mistaking the arrivals of Chad (Zachary Quinto) and his partner Patrick (Teddy Sears) as the fluffers. Unknown to the Harmons, the couple are the former owners who were killed by the Rubber Man in the house one year ago. Violet demands Tate tells her what is in the basement. Tate says it is the still-living abomination created when Dr. Montgomery, driven insane, tried to bring his dismembered child back to life by sewing the pieces together with various animal parts. Vivien confronts Ben, who swears that Hayden is gone. The baby begins kicking, an impossibility at 8 weeks. At the hospital, an ultrasound reveals that the baby is more developed than it should be; the ultrasound technician collapses after seeing the baby onscreen. While trick-or-treating, Addie is fatally hit by a car and Constance attempts to get her to the Harmon's lawn before she dies. Violet is alone in the house when Larry arrives; the Rubber Man is behind her. The Harmon's return from the hospital to find the house broken into and Violet missing. Ben answers a knock at the door, finding Hayden's ghost standing there, covered in dirt.|
|5||5||"Halloween (Part 2)"||David Semel||Tim Minear||November 2, 2011||1ATS04||2.74|
|The Rubber Man disappears, and Tate appears. He and Violet go on their date to the beach, and Tate tells her high school was terrible for him. Five mangled, bloody teens appear and harass Tate, prompting the couple to leave. Vivien tells Ben that Hayden is in the house. Ben finds her in the basement, but Larry knocks him out with the shovel and ties him up. Nora frees him, urging him to save his child. Hayden appears to Vivien and both are shocked to learn that the other is pregnant with Ben's child. Hayden attacks her, but is stopped by Ben, who is forced to admit that he impregnated Hayden months after Vivien discovered the affair. The teens find Tate and Violet, but Tate protects Violet by making them chase him. Constance takes Violet to her house, revealing that Addie is dead and Tate is her son. The teens are revealed to be ghosts from various cliques at Westfield High who were killed when Tate committed a school shooting in 1994. The ghosts angrily demand to know why he killed them and that he admit what he did, but Tate cannot remember anything about them. Two of the ghosts, one being a football player and the other a cheerleader, asked why he "targeted jocks" which is probably a reference to the Columbine massacre. With Halloween night ending, the teens depart. The other ghosts including Moira, Chad, Patrick, and Nora warily return to the house. Ben packs and sadly leaves the house.|
|6||6||"Piggy Piggy"||Michael Uppendahl||Jessica Sharzer||November 9, 2011||1ATS05||2.83|
|After Violet confirms online that Tate was killed after his massacre at Westfield High (shot by a SWAT team in the house), Constance introduces her to a medium, Billie Dean (Sarah Paulson) and she and Constance explain that Tate is unaware he is dead. Constance has been sending him to Ben, hoping a breakthrough will help him pass on and they need Violet's help, though Violet is shaken by the revelation. Ben needs to use the house for his therapy sessions to make them money, and Vivien agrees out of necessity. Ben sees a new patient, Derek (Eric Stonestreet), who is terrified by urban legends, most recently the legend of "Piggy Man", who will slaughter anyone who repeats a specific mantra in the mirror. Ben begins noticing that Vivien has developed an attraction to the security officer. Vivien contacts the ultrasound technician, who fainted during the ultrasound and has since quit her job, claiming she saw that the baby was the Antichrist. Taking Ben's advice to face his fear, Derek repeats the mantra in his bathroom mirror, but is ironically shot and killed by an armed robber. Violet tries to confront Tate, but is mobbed by the other ghosts. Overwhelmed, she attempts suicide, but Tate saves her. Tate tearfully confesses that he loves her. He plans to leave her alone, but she comforts him.|
|7||7||"Open House"||Tim Hunter||Brad Falchuk||November 16, 2011||1ATS06||3.06|
|In 1994, Larry, in love with Constance, mercy-kills her deformed son, Beau, who lives chained in the attic, at Constance's request upon learning that Beau would be taken away from her due to her neglectful parenting. In the present, Violet takes solace in Tate, who says he is aware of the ghosts and that they will not harm her if she tells them to leave her alone. He shows her old photographs he found of the house and the Montgomerys. Vivien learns she is pregnant with twins. Resolved to be upfront with prospective buyers about the house's past, she learns of the Montgomerys and that Charles revived their son into a monster, causing Nora to go insane and kill him and herself. Ben finds Larry's home and confronts him, learning that Larry wants the house so he can be with Constance. Violet shares the photos of the Montgomerys with Vivien, who is shocked to find that she recognizes Nora as one of the interested buyers from Episode 3.|
|8||8||"Rubber Man"||Miguel Arteta||Ryan Murphy||November 23, 2011||1ATS07||2.81|
|Tate is revealed to be the Rubber Man, attempting to provide the distraught Nora with a baby. The outfit is a fetish suit Chad bought in hopes of reigniting his and Patrick's failing relationship. Tate donned the suit and killed Patrick and Chad after they decided not to have a baby, hoping that a new family would move in and have a child, which Nora could then have. In the present, Hayden conspires with Nora to drive Vivien insane so that they can have her twins. Vivien and Violet are confronted by the ghostly house intruders from Episode 2; Ben believes that Vivien is mentally unstable because the police found no evidence of the intruders' presence and Violet lied about what she saw. He prohibits Vivien from leaving, believing that she is trying to take Violet and the twins away from him. Vivien steals Marcy's handgun for protection. Hayden convinces Tate, as the Rubber Man, to attack Vivien, revealing that Tate fathered one of Vivien's twins. During the attack, Vivien accidentally shoots Ben, who is convinced that she is a danger to herself and to others. Vivien's reaction to another poltergeist results in the police taking her away. The full scene of Chad and Patrick's murder is shown; it is revealed that after Tate immobilized them, Moira gave Tate the couple's gun, which Tate used to make the scene look like a murder/suicide.|
|9||9||"Spooky Little Girl"||John Scott||Jennifer Salt||November 30, 2011||1ATS08||2.85|
|The events of the famous 1940s Black Dahlia case are shown. A dentist raped Elizabeth Short while she was under anesthesia, only to find he had administered too much and she had died. The ghost of Charles Montgomery dismembers her corpse. In the present, Elizabeth's ghost appears to Ben, seeking his psychiatric help. Ben receives a call from Vivien's OB/GYN telling him that Vivien's twins have separate fathers – him and someone else. He accuses Vivien of cheating on him. Hayden tells him that she saw Vivien and Luke, the security guard, growing closer. Ben confronts Luke about the possible paternity and learns that Luke is sterile. Constance and Travis get into a domestic dispute; Travis has sex with Hayden in the Harmon house. Hayden kills him, and Larry, who "owes her a favor", takes Travis' body and dumps it out in public in the Black Dahlia tradition. Ben finds the Rubber Man's mask and realizes the possibility that Vivien had been raped. Constance is told by Moira that Tate is the other father. She asks Billie Dean what would happen if a ghost sires a living child. The medium tells her of the Pope's knowledge of such an event as the beginning of the Apocalypse by the Antichrist.|
|10||10||"Smoldering Children"||Michael Lehmann||James Wong||December 7, 2011||1ATS09||2.54|
|It is revealed that Tate caused Larry's scars by setting him on fire on the morning of the school shooting. Constance is told by police of Travis' murder, and her behavior causes them to suspect her as his killer. In an act of penance for his own crimes, Larry confesses to the murder. Ben learns that Violet has not been seen in school in over two weeks and checks out boarding schools for her. Hearing this, Tate takes measures to keep her around, ending in showing Violet her own corpse in the house's crawl space - Violet had actually died from her suicide attempt in episode 6. Ben learns that Tate is the Rubber Man and the other one who got Vivien pregnant.|
|11||11||"Birth"||Alfonso Gomez-Rejon||Tim Minear||December 14, 2011||1ATS10||2.59|
|Ben goes to pick Vivien up at the sanitarium, intent on taking Violet with him. However Violet, being a ghost, is trapped on the property. He takes Vivien home to pick up Violet as Vivien insists on going to her sister's in Florida. While waiting in the car, Vivien begins to have labor pains. Violet tries to explain to her father that she is dead. Constance brings Vivien into the house and goes to get "help" to assist in the delivery – the ghosts of Dr. Charles Montgomery and the 1968 nurses. As Vivien goes into labor, Chad tells Violet that Tate was the one who sired one of the twins. Vivien has great difficulty giving birth to the babies, losing one to stillbirth while the other causes her to bleed internally. Violet appears to comfort her mother and asks her to "come be with her". Vivien dies and Violet confronts Tate, telling him she loves him but can never forgive him. She screams for him to go away and he does. Vivien appears and comforts her daughter in the afterlife.|
|12||12||"Afterbirth"||Bradley Buecker||Jessica Sharzer||December 21, 2011||1ATS11||3.22|
|Ben, feeling alone, plans to commit suicide, but the ghosts of Violet and Vivien encourage him to take the living twin and get out of the house. During his attempt, he is killed by Hayden and the home-invader ghosts, hanged from the chandelier; Constance takes the living twin. Moira and other "innocent" ghosts help the Harmon ghosts prevent the deaths of further tenants by scaring away the first family that wants to move in, the Ramoses. Tate, feeling alienated, tries to kill the Ramos son, so Violet won't be alone. She prevents this by distracting Tate. Nora, who wants a child since hers was murdered and turned evil, relinquishes motherhood of the dead Harmon twin to Vivien, who asks Moira to be its godmother. The Harmons and Moira decorate the house for Christmas, while Tate tells Hayden he will wait "forever" for Violet. Three years later, Constance comes home and sees a trail of blood on the floor, leading to the bedroom of the living Harmon twin, now about three years old and looking much like Tate. He has murdered his nanny and is sitting in a rocking chair, smiling up at Constance.|
Creators Murphy and Falchuk began working on American Horror Story before their Fox series Glee began production. Murphy wanted to do the opposite of what he had done previously and thus began his work on the series. He stated, "I went from Nip/Tuck to Glee, so it made sense that I wanted to do something challenging and dark. And I always had loved, as Brad had, the horror genre. So it just was a natural for me." Falchuk was intrigued by the idea of putting a different angle on the horror genre, stating that their main goal in creating the series was to scare viewers. "You want people to be a little bit off balance afterwards," he said.
The dark tone of the series is modeled after the ABC soap opera Dark Shadows, which Murphy's grandmother forced him to watch when he was younger to toughen him up. He also cited Rosemary's Baby, Don't Look Now, The Amityville Horror, and Stanley Kubrick's version of The Shining as influences for the series.
From the beginning, Murphy and Falchuk planned that each season of the series would tell a different story. After the first-season finale aired, Murphy spoke of his plans to change the cast and location for the second season, while retaining some actors from the first, "The people that are coming back will be playing completely different characters, creatures, monsters, etc. [The Harmons'] stories are done."
In February 2011, FX officially announced that it had ordered a pilot for a possible series from Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk, with both Murphy and Falchuk writing and Murphy directing. Dante Di Loreto was announced as executive producer. Production on the series began in April 2011. In July 2011, FX officially announced the project had been given a series order consisting of 13 episodes. On August 2011, it was announced that Tim Minear, Jennifer Salt, James Wong and Jessica Sharzer had joined the series as writers.
On October 30, 2016, Murphy announced that a future season of the series will continue the Murder House and Coven stories, merging their characters and themes. He did not state which season it would be, but that he had already reached out to actors from both seasons to reprise their respective roles.
Casting announcements began in March 2011, with Connie Britton first to be cast, portraying female lead Vivien Harmon. Britton stated that she took a risk in taking the role of Vivien. When Murphy presented the role to her, he said, "This is something we've never seen you do before. It will be turning what you've just been doing on its ear." She was intrigued by what he had presented her and ultimately decided to take the part. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, series co-creator Ryan Murphy stated that he had told Connie Britton, early on, that her character Vivien would die in the first season. "We've really had the whole season mapped out from the beginning," he said. "In the meetings with the core actors, the three leads being Connie, Dylan [McDermott] and Jessica [Lange], as we tried to snare them we were able to say this is where you start, this is the middle, and this is where you end up. So, yes, I was able to tell Connie really the whole run of the series."
Denis O'Hare joined the cast in late March 2011 as Larry Harvey. Jessica Lange joined the cast in April 2011 as Constance, marking her first regular role on television. Lange was attracted to the role because it didn't require a 22-episode commitment like a series on a broadcast network. "That was huge for me!" she said. "I wasn't about to commit to, you know, six months. It was cable, rather than network... I've been offered network [shows] before, and determined not to do it, just because I can't make that kind of time commitment."
Dylan McDermott was cast as the lead Ben Harmon in late April 2011. His character was initially described as "a handsome and masculine but sensitive therapist who loves his family but has hurt his wife." McDermott stated that he wanted to do the role to break away from his previous role as Bobby Donnell in the ABC series The Practice. "This was exactly why I wanted to do this show – to change it up and do a different kind of character. People think of me as the guy from The Practice... I wanted to turn that [notion] on its head and hopefully I'm doing that [with this show]", he said.
In May 2011, Taissa Farmiga and Evan Peters were the last lead actors to be cast, portraying Violet Harmon and Tate Langdon, respectively. Farmiga said that she loved Violet "immediately" and that "she had spunk to her, she had attitude." Murphy has described Tate as the "true monster" of the series, adding, "To Evan's great credit and the credit of the writers, I think Evan's done an amazingly difficult job making a monster sympathetic."
The pilot episode was shot on location in a house in Country Club Park, Los Angeles, California, which serves as the haunted house and crime scene in the series. Designed and built in 1902 by Alfred Rosenheim, the president of the American Institute of Architects' Los Angeles chapter, the Tudor or Collegiate Gothic-style single family home was previously used as a convent. An adjoining chapel was removed from exterior shots using CGI.
The series is filmed on sets that are an exact replica of the house. Details such as Louis Comfort Tiffany stained glass windows, and hammered bronze light fixtures, were re-created to preserve the look of the house. The house became available for rent on Airbnb for six months, beggining February 2016, before being unlisted.
Due to a "very aggressive" production schedule and the series' pilot shoot having to wait for co-creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk's other show, Glee, to wrap its second season production, it was announced that the show's first-season finale, the thirteenth episode, would be thirty minutes shorter than planned. Finally, the thirteenth episode was dropped and they made the twelfth episode 10 minutes longer (52 minutes). The finale aired on December 21, 2011.
The opening title sequence was created by Kyle Cooper and his company Prologue. He also created the title sequence for the AMC series The Walking Dead and the 1995 film Se7en. The theme music was composed by sound designer Cesar Davila-Irizarry and musician Charlie Clouser. The sequence is set in the Harmons' basement and includes images of postmortem young children, unborn (or aborted) babies in jars, skulls, a Christening dress, a nurse's uniform, and a figure holding a pair of bloody hedge clippers. Murphy described the sequence as a mini-mystery and stated, "By the time you see the ninth episode of this season, every image in that title sequence will be explained".
American Horror Story received generally positive reviews from critics. The first episode scored 62 out of 100 on Metacritic based on 30 reviews. The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported a 74% approval rating with an average rating of 6.6/10 based on 38 reviews. The website's consensus reads, "Convoluted yet effective, American Horror Story is strange, gory, and twisted enough to keep viewers hooked." Ken Tucker from Entertainment Weekly awarded the pilot episode a B+, stating, "AHS is pretty much all scare, all the time: a whole lotta screams, sex, jolts, mashed faces, psychotic behavior, and dead babies." Chuck Barney of the San Jose Mercury News said, "Most TV shows, after all, quickly fade from memory. This one will haunt your dreams." Hank Stuever from The Washington Post said in his review, "Overdoing things is one of Murphy's trademark flaws, but this show has a captivating style and giddy gross-outs." The New York Times' Mike Hale called the show "a more classically minded chiller," taking into mind the success of HBO's True Blood and AMC's The Walking Dead. However, not all reviews were favorable. Alan Sepinwall of HitFix gave the series a D−, saying, "It is so far over the top that the top is a microscopic speck in its rearview mirror."
Awards and nominations
In its first season, American Horror Story was nominated for 65 awards, and won 19.
|2011||IGN's Best of 2011: TV||Best Sci-Fi/Horror Series||American Horror Story||Won|
|16th Satellite Awards||Best TV Series – Genre||Won|
|Special Achievement Award: Outstanding Performance in a TV Series||Jessica Lange||Won|
|2012||18th Screen Actors Guild Awards||Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series||Won|
|3rd Dorian Awards||TV Performance of the Year||Won|
|TV Drama of the Year||American Horror Story||Won|
|LGBT-Themed TV Show of the Year||Nominated|
|Campy TV Show of the Year||Nominated|
|Bram Stoker Award 2011||Best Screenplay||Jessica Sharzer (for "Afterbirth")||Won|
|38th Saturn Awards||Best Actress on TV||Jessica Lange||Nominated|
|Best Actor on TV||Dylan McDermott||Nominated|
|Best Supporting Actress on TV||Frances Conroy||Nominated|
|Best Guest Performer on TV||Zachary Quinto||Nominated|
|Best Syndicated/Cable TV Series||American Horror Story||Nominated|
|2nd Critics' Choice TV Awards||Best Movie or Miniseries||Nominated|
|Best Actress in a Movie or Miniseries||Jessica Lange||Nominated|
|64th Primetime Emmy Awards||Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie||Won|
|Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie||Connie Britton||Nominated|
|Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Movie||Denis O'Hare||Nominated|
|Outstanding Miniseries or Movie*||American Horror Story||Nominated|
|64th Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards||Outstanding Art Direction for a Miniseries or Movie||Mark Worthington, Edward L. Rubin, Ellen Brill (for "Open House")||Nominated|
|Beth Rubino, Charles M. Lagola, Ellen Brill (for "Pilot")||Nominated|
|Outstanding Casting for a Miniseries, Movie, or Special||Robert J. Ulrich, Eric Dawson||Nominated|
|Outstanding Costumes for a Miniseries, Movie, or Special||Chrisi Karvonides, Conan Castro (for "Halloween (Part 1)")||Nominated|
|Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Miniseries or Movie||Fabienne Bouville (for "Birth")||Nominated|
|Outstanding Hairstyling for a Miniseries or Movie||Monte C. Haught, Samantha Wade, Melanie Verkins, Natalie Driscoll, Michelle Ceglia||Won|
|Outstanding Main Title Design||Kyle Cooper, Juan Ruiz Anchia, Gabriel Diaz, Ryan Murphy||Nominated|
|Outstanding Makeup for a Miniseries or Movie (Non-Prosthetic)||Eryn Krueger Mekash, Kim Ayers, Silvina Knight, D. Garen Tolkin||Nominated|
|Outstanding Prosthetic Makeup for a Series, Miniseries, Movie, or Special||Eryn Krueger Mekash, Hiroshi Yada, Michael Mekash, Christopher Nelson, Kim Ayers, Christien Tinsley, Jason Hamer||Nominated|
|Outstanding Sound Editing for a Miniseries, Movie, or Special||Gary Megregian, David Klotz, Steve M. Stuhr, Jason Krane, Jason Lezama, Timothy Cleveland, Bruce Tanis, Simon Coke, Zane Bruce, Jeff Gunn, Lance Wiseman (for "Piggy Piggy")||Nominated|
|Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Miniseries or Movie||Sean Rush, Joe Earle, Doug Andham (for "Piggy Piggy")||Nominated|
|Outstanding Stunt Coordination||Tim Davison||Nominated|
|69th Golden Globe Awards||Best Supporting Actress in a Series, Miniseries, or TV Film||Jessica Lange||Won|
|Best TV Series – Drama||American Horror Story||Nominated|
|5th Kerrang! Awards||Best TV Show||Nominated|
|16th Online Film & Television Association Awards||Best Drama Series||Nominated|
|Best Ensemble in a Drama Series||Nominated|
|Best Direction in a Drama Series||Won|
|Best Writing in a Drama Series||Nominated|
|Best Music in a Series||Won|
|Best Sound in a Series||Nominated|
|Best Editing in a Series||Won|
|Best Cinematography in a Series||Nominated|
|Best Production Design in a Series||Nominated|
|Best Costume Design in a Series||Nominated|
|Best Makeup/Hairstyling in a Series||Nominated|
|Best Visual Effects in a Series||Won|
|Best New Theme Song in a Series||Won|
|Best New Titles Sequence||Won|
|Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series||Jessica Lange||Nominated|
|16th ADG Excellence in Production Design Awards||One-Hour Single Camera TV Series||Mark Worthington (for "Murder House")||Nominated|
|28th Artios Awards||TV Movie or Miniseries||Robert J. Ulrich, Eric Dawson, Carol Kritzer, Eric Souliere (Associate)||Nominated|
|28th TCA Awards||Individual Achievement in Drama||Jessica Lange||Nominated|
|TV Guide Awards 2012||Favorite Villain||Jessica Lange (as Constance Langdon)||Nominated|
|Favorite Horror Series||American Horror Story||Nominated|
|1st PAAFTJ TV Awards||Best Miniseries or TV Movie||Nominated|
|Best Main Title Design||Nominated|
|Best Directing for a Miniseries or TV Movie||Ryan Murphy||Won|
|Best Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or TV Movie||Jessica Lange||Won|
|Best Cast in a Miniseries or TV Movie||Dylan McDermott, Connie Britton, Taissa Farmiga, Jessica Lange, Evan Peters, Denis O'Hare||Nominated|
|Best Production Design in a Miniseries or TV Movie||Mark Worthington||Won|
|Best Cinematography in a Miniseries or TV Movie||Mark Worthington||Nominated|
|5th NewNowNext Awards||Cause You're Hot||Jessica Lange||Nominated|
|2013||24th PGA Awards||Outstanding Producer of Long-Form TV||Brad Buecker, Dante Di Loreto, Brad Falchuk, Ryan Murphy, Chip Vucelich, Alexis Martin Woodall||Nominated|
The pilot episode gained a 1.6 ratings share among adults aged 18–49 and garnered 3.2 million viewers, and totalled 5.2 million between two airings. These were the best numbers FX had ever received for a series premiere. Taken together with equally strong numbers for the station's returning original series – Sons of Anarchy, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia and The League – the episode helped make October the most-watched month on FX ever. The episode was seen by 3.2 million viewers total in 59 countries.
Ratings increased as the season progressed, with the fourth episode receiving a 1.7 ratings share among adults 18–49, a tenth of a point higher than the pilot episode. The seventh episode had a viewership of 3.06 million, receiving a 1.8 ratings share in the 18–49 demographic; a series high. The season finale was watched by 3.22 million viewers and received a 1.7 ratings share in the 18–49 demographic. The first season tied with the TNT series Falling Skies as the biggest new cable series of the year among adults 18–49.
American Horror Story's November 2011 international premiere across Europe and Latin America, on Fox International Channels, drew rankings of 1st or 2nd among all Pay-TV in most metered markets for its time slot. In the UK, it premiered on non-terrestrial channel FX, with 128,200 viewers. The second episode saw an increase of 27%, receiving an overall viewership of 158,700.
|Season||Ep. 1||Ep. 2||Ep. 3||Ep. 4||Ep. 5||Ep. 6||Ep. 7||Ep. 8||Ep. 9||Ep. 10||Ep. 11||Ep. 12||Ep. 13|
Home media release
|American Horror Story – The Complete First Season|
|Set Details||Special Features|
|Region 1||Region 2|
|September 25, 2012||October 15, 2012|
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- Andreeva, Nellie (April 29, 2011). "Dylan McDermott To Star In Ryan Murphy's FX Pilot 'American Horror Story'". Deadline.com. Archived from the original on May 8, 2011. Retrieved April 29, 2011.
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