American Horror Story: Asylum

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American Horror Story:
American Horror Story Asylum DVD.jpg
Promotional poster
Country of origin United States
No. of episodes 13
Original network FX
Original release October 17, 2012 (2012-10-17) – January 23, 2013 (2013-01-23)
Season chronology
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List of American Horror Story episodes

American Horror Story: Asylum is the second season of the American FX horror television series American Horror Story, created by Brad Falchuk and Ryan Murphy. It originally aired from October 17, 2012 to January 23, 2013. The premise of the second season marked a departure from that of the series' first season, featuring all new characters and a new location, thus marking American Horror Story as an anthology series.

The season begins in 1964 at the fictional mental institution, Briarcliff Manor, following the stories of the staff and inmates who occupy it, and intercuts with events in the past and present. Returning cast members from the previous season of the series include: Frances Conroy, Jessica Lange, Dylan McDermott, Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters, Zachary Quinto, and Lily Rabe.

Like its predecessor, Asylum was well received by television critics and fans. The performances of Jessica Lange, James Cromwell, Zachary Quinto, Sarah Paulson, and Lily Rabe were particularly praised. The season garnered seventeen Emmy Award nominations, more than any other show, including Outstanding Miniseries and four acting nominations for Lange, Paulson, Cromwell, and Quinto, with Cromwell winning for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie. In addition, Quinto and Paulson won their respective supporting categories at the 3rd Critics' Choice Television Awards.

Despite being formerly anthological, some of the cast members reprise their roles in the series' fourth cycle, Freak Show, such as: Lily Rabe, Naomi Grossman, and John Cromwell, the latter portraying a young version of Dr. Arthur Arden, also known as Hans Grüper.


The second season follows the patients, doctors and nuns who occupy Briarcliff Mental Institution in Massachusetts in 1964, intercut with scenes from the present. Sister Jude (Jessica Lange) and Sister Mary Eunice (Lily Rabe) maintain the institution that was founded by Monsignor Timothy Howard (Joseph Fiennes) to treat and house the mentally and criminally insane. Psychiatrist Dr. Oliver Thredson (Zachary Quinto) and scientist Dr. Arthur Arden (James Cromwell) treat the patients within the facility. The patients, many of whom claim to be unjustly institutionalized, include lesbian journalist Lana Winters (Sarah Paulson), accused serial killer Kit Walker (Evan Peters), and alleged murderer Grace Bertrand (Lizzie Brocheré).

As the season unfolds, information is revealed about everyone's past, present, and personal lives. Sister Jude was once a philandering nightclub singer who unintentionally killed a young girl in a drunk-driving hit and run accident in 1949. This led her to become a nun and she was later selected to work at Briarcliff. Sister Mary Eunice is a shy and innocent nun who fears Sister Jude. Later, she becomes possessed by the Devil during an exorcism of another patient and becomes a cruel and willful woman. She anonymously taunts Sister Jude about the drunk-driving accident. Sister Jude is terrorized by the memory and goes to see the family of the dead girl. While there, she learns the girl survived the accident with only a few broken bones. Sister Jude figures that God had a plan for her all along, and decides that it is her job to destroy all the remaining evil at Briarcliff.

The evil includes the sadistic scientist Dr. Arden and the secret serial killer Dr. Thredson. Arden is a former Nazi whose experiments have produced "Raspers", mutated former patients, who lurk in the woods surrounding the institution, and who are fed the flesh of dead patients. He and Sister Jude often clash with their differing views of how the facility should be run. Dr. Thredson is a psychiatrist assigned to evaluate accused serial killer Walker, although it is revealed that Thredson actually committed the murders Walker is accused of, and got himself assigned to Walker’s case to make sure he could pin the murders on him. Walker believes his wife Alma (Britne Oldford) was kidnapped by aliens and Thredson makes it his mission to pin her disappearance and possible murder, among others, on him. Walker is duped into taping a confession and is arrested for the murders. He later escapes custody.

Thredson also tries to "reform" another patient that has been wrongfully committed. Lana Winters is an ambitious journalist who attempts to expose Briarcliff's mistreatments. She is in a relationship with girlfriend Wendy (Clea Duvall), who is blackmailed by Sister Jude into committing Winters. When Lana asks Thredson for help contacting Wendy, it is revealed he is the killer and has also murdered Wendy. At first, Thredson tells Winters that the killer is still on the loose. Thredson agrees to help Winters escape the asylum, but she learns his dark secret and that he sees her as the mother he never had. He keeps her prisoner and tries to turn her into his mother figure. He rapes her, and is later going to kill her for his "indiscretion". A struggle ensues and she escapes, only to end up back at Briarcliff. She later learns she is pregnant with Thredson's baby.

Meanwhile, believing his wife is dead or missing, Kit Walker has taken up with inmate Grace Bertrand. She is accused of murdering her family and it is revealed that she actually did commit the murders, but her father was sexually abusing her and her stepmother ignored the abuse. She and Walker get caught having sex before his arrest and they are separated with the intent to be sterilized. However, she is abducted by aliens and is later returned, very pregnant and ready to give birth. Walker has allowed himself to be caught and brought back to Briarcliff to help Grace. He negotiates with Monsignor and arranges for Grace, himself and their baby to be released. The three arrive at his old home to find his wife Alma, alive and with her own baby.

While all this is going on, the possessed Sister Mary Eunice is able to get Sister Jude deposed and committed. Mary Eunice takes over Briarcliff, with Dr. Arden's help. She nurses the weakened Monsignor Howard back to health and he tries to perform a failed exorcism on her. She sexually assaults him but later tires of all that is going on and Howard kills her by throwing her off the third floor balcony. Dr. Arden, after becoming loyal to Mary Eunice, cremates her while immolating himself.

Lana Winters successfully captures a confession from Dr. Thredson, but decides to corner him in his house to say she has turned the tape over to the police. He states, because he is insane, no jury will convict him and that she will be his last victim, grasping for a gun in a drawer. She shoots him in the head, stating "Prison is too good for you". In the present, she has become a famous television investigative reporter and gets Briarcliff closed down for its inhumane treatments. Winters reveals that Monsignor Howard committed suicide after she threatened to expose his neglect of the patients in Briarcliff. She also reports that Kit Walker took in Sister Jude, after Alma was committed to Briarcliff for killing Grace Bertrand for talking about the possibility of the aliens coming back. Alma later dies in Briarcliff. Jude's dementia worsens and she is taken into the woods by the children, where it is assumed they help her mental state. Her mind gets healed for a while but she later grows frail and dies. Kit Walker is later abducted after he contracts pancreatic cancer.

Winters' grown son Johnny (Dylan McDermott) has vowed vengeance against her, the mother who never loved him, especially when she claims he had died at birth. He shows up at her home and threatens to kill her, finishing his father's work and making him proud. She ultimately convinces him that he is not like his murderous father, and in this moment of his near-regret, she is able to take the gun from him and shoot him in the head.

Cast and characters[edit]


Jessica Lange, Sarah Paulson, and Evan Peters (left to right) portray lead roles, Sister Jude Martin, Lana Winters, and Kit Walker, respectively, who appear in all episodes.
Zachary Quinto, Lily Rabe, and James Cromwell (left to right) portray lead roles Dr. Oliver Thredson, Sister Mary Eunice McKee, and Dr. Arthur Arden, respectively.

Special guest stars[edit]



No. in
Title  Directed by  Written by  Original air date  Production
U.S. viewers
13 1 "Welcome to Briarcliff" Bradley Buecker Tim Minear October 17, 2012 (2012-10-17) 2ATS01 3.85[1]
In present day, a newlywed couple, Teresa (Jenna Dewan-Tatum) and Leo (Adam Levine), explore the now-abandoned Briarcliff Manor, a former insane asylum in rural Massachusetts. Flashback to 1964 shows Kit Walker (Evan Peters) being committed there, accused of being infamous serial killer "Bloody Face". Kit protests his innocence and flashes of his scattered memory suggest something far more sinister responsible. At Briarcliff, Kit befriends Grace (Lizzie Brocheré), a fellow inmate believed to have murdered her family. Journalist Lana Winters (Sarah Paulson) trespasses onto Briarcliff, intent on exposing its mistreatment of inmates, so she can gain a better career for her and for her lover Wendy Peyser (Clea DuVall), a teacher. She is confronted by the tyrannical Sister Jude, who has her committed to the asylum because of her homosexuality. A bitter rivalry is ignited between Sister Jude (Jessica Lange) and Dr. Arthur Arden (James Cromwell), who uses torturous experimentation and murder in his quest to discover an ultimate immunity in the human body, so he can let humans survive even through a nuclear warfare. In present day, Teresa and Leo are attacked and pursued through Briarcliff by Bloody Face.
14 2 "Tricks and Treats" Bradley Buecker James Wong October 24, 2012 (2012-10-24) 2ATS02 3.06[2]
Dr. Thredson (Zachary Quinto) arrives at Briarcliff as Kit's court appointed therapist to determine if he is competent to stand trial for the "Bloody Face" murders. "Bloody Face" kills people in both time periods, present and 1964. Meanwhile, an exorcist is called to the asylum after a teenager's behavior goes beyond clinical help; he is possessed by a demon. The ritual gives Lana and Grace a chance to escape, but Lana, who feels betrayed that Grace wants Kit to go with them, foils the plan by getting Grace and Kit caught. The possessed teenager exposes Sister Jude's dark past that haunts her to this day, revealing that she used to be a sleazy bar singer who accidentally ran over a little girl while driving drunk back in 1949. The teenager dies after the demon exits his body during the exorcism and enters Sister Mary Eunice (Lily Rabe) instead.
15 3 "Nor'easter" Michael Uppendahl Jennifer Salt October 31, 2012 (2012-10-31) 2ATS03 2.47[3]
In the present, Teresa and Leo are shot by men in Bloody Face masks, who are then approached by the real Bloody Face. In 1964, the possessed Sister Mary Eunice begins her corruption of the asylum. She kills a female patient, called the Mexican, who senses that she is possessed. Next, Sister Mary tries to seduce Dr. Arden, and then drives Sister Jude nearly insane by hinting at her past transgressions. With the news announcement that a storm is approaching, Sister Jude decides to throw a "movie night" to calm the inmates. Grace, Kit, and Lana attempt to escape the prison during the storm but retreat after crossing paths with the cannibalistic Raspers who dwell in the woods surrounding the asylum. Shelley (Chloë Sevigny) wishes to escape with them but is caught by Dr. Arden, who knocks her out and partially amputates both her legs.
16 4 "I Am Anne Frank (Part 1)" Michael Uppendahl Jessica Sharzer November 7, 2012 (2012-11-07) 2ATS04 2.65[4]
A woman (Franka Potente) identifying herself as Anne Frank is brought into the asylum. "Anne Frank" panics when she first sees Dr. Arden. She tells Sister Jude that Dr. Arden is actually Dr. Hans Grüper, a Nazi doctor. Sister Jude wonders how to bring about the reality of Dr. Arden. Meanwhile, Grace admits to Kit that she killed her own father and stepmother for sexually abusing her. Kit wonders if he, in fact, really is the serial killer "Bloody Face" and is simply blocking what really happened the night his wife (Britne Oldford) "vanished." After aversion therapy fails with Lana, Dr. Thredson promises that he will get her out of Briarcliff within a week. "Anne Frank" attacks Dr. Arden and stumbles onto Shelley, who begs Anne to kill her, as she is turning into a Rasper as a result of Dr. Arden's experiments.
17 5 "I Am Anne Frank (Part 2)" Alfonso Gomez-Rejon Brad Falchuk November 14, 2012 (2012-11-14) 2ATS05 2.78[5]
Sister Jude hires a famed Nazi hunter named Mr. Goodman (Mark Margolis) to build a case against Dr. Arden. Dr. Thredson convinces Kit to makes a startling confession. "Anne Frank's" husband shows up to take her home, but returns her after she still believes she's the real Anne Frank. Dr. Arden offers to do brain surgery on her and is given permission. After Sister Jude is threatened by Dr. Arden, she sneaks out on a one night stand for a few drinks at a bar. Dr. Thredson helps Lana escape but traps her in his home, revealing himself to be the real Bloody Face. To prevent Jude from finding Shelley, Sister Mary Eunice takes Shelley to a schoolyard stairwell, where she is discovered.
18 6 "The Origins of Monstrosity" David Semel Ryan Murphy November 21, 2012 (2012-11-21) 2ATS06 1.89[6]
In order to perform last rites, the Monsignor (Joseph Fiennes) visits Shelley at the hospital. A mysterious young girl (Nikki Hahn) becomes a new patient at Briarcliff after her mother believes she has killed someone. A flashback shows how Dr. Arden came to work at Briarcliff. Sister Jude finally gets evidence of Dr. Arden's horrific past, but puts someone's life and her career at stake. Meanwhile, Dr. Arden, the Monsignor, and Sister Mary Eunice indirectly form an evil union. Elsewhere, Lana remains a hostage of Dr. Thredson/Bloody Face, who enlightens her about his past. In present day, the police arrive at the asylum to discover three bodies, while it is also discovered that Bloody Face has captured Teresa.
19 7 "Dark Cousin" Michael Rymer Tim Minear November 28, 2012 (2012-11-28) 2ATS07 2.27[7]
The Angel of Death (Frances Conroy) appears at the asylum after several patients wish to die, one of which is Grace. The angel's visit does not sit well with Sister Mary Eunice, but both agree their individual work is not finished. Sister Jude plans to use the angel's services but first must attempt to make peace with the parents of the girl she hit years ago. Jude is stunned to learn the girl survived the accident. After Lana is able to get away from Dr. Thredson, she is injured in a freak car accident and taken back to Briarcliff. Also, Kit escapes custody to break Grace out of the asylum, but she is accidentally shot by the chief guard, Frank (Fredric Lehne), and dies.
20 8 "Unholy Night" Michael Lehmann James Wong December 5, 2012 (2012-12-05) 2ATS08 2.36[8]
On Christmas Eve, a patient dressed as Santa (Ian McShane) stirs up trouble at Briarcliff and seeks revenge on Sister Jude for locking him away in solitary, after he commits a murder during the previous year's Christmas festivities. Dr. Arden secretly calls on Sister Jude for help in saving Sister Mary Eunice, later revealing his efforts to be a ruse leading Jude back to Briarcliff and jeopardy, at Sister Eunice's behest. Meanwhile, Lana reunites with Kit making him privy to the fact that Dr. Thredson is Bloody Face which proves him innocent. Dr. Thredson finds Lana at the asylum, but Kit saves her before he can harm her. Dr. Arden also has a startling encounter in the Death Chute while in the midst of disposing of Grace's body.
21 9 "The Coat Hanger" Jeremy Podeswa Jennifer Salt December 12, 2012 (2012-12-12) 2ATS09 2.22[9]
Lana and Kit trick Dr. Thredson into confessing that he is Bloody Face. Dr. Arden convinces Kit to temporarily die and force the aliens to return, only to find out that the aliens saved Grace's life and she is pregnant with Kit's baby. Meanwhile, Sister Jude gets officially removed from her position and admitted as a patient, causing Monsignor Howard to lead a penitent Leigh to be baptized with disastrous results. Modern day Bloody Face, Johnny Morgan (Dylan McDermott), attends a therapy session.
22 10 "The Name Game" Michael Lehmann Jessica Sharzer January 2, 2013 (2013-01-02) 2ATS10 2.21[10]
Dr. Arden puts an end to his experiments. Kit and Lana continue to pressure the killer Dr. Thredson, who reveals several secrets to Kit. Now a patient and known by her common name, Judy Martin, Sister Jude gets subjected to the asylum's inhumane treatments. Grace goes into labor and a boy is born. Monsignor Howard takes the fight to the possessed Sister Mary Eunice, eventually pushing her off the third floor. Saddened by her death, Dr. Arden kills himself in the same fire that cremates Sister Mary Eunice's body.
23 11 "Spilt Milk" Alfonso Gomez-Rejon Brad Falchuk January 9, 2013 (2013-01-09) 2ATS11 2.51[11]
Told by Judy of the truth, Mother Superior Claudia (Barbara Tarbuck) manages to help Lana escape from the asylum, who exposes the crimes at Briarcliff and those of Dr. Thredson. Lana later confronts Dr. Thredson/Bloody Face at his house and kills him. Kit, Grace and their son are sent free and reunited at Kit's home where they find Alma with another baby. Judy promises Monsignor Howard that his and the asylum's downfall are soon to come. Lana tries to get Judy out of Briarcliff but fails because Monsignor Howard has faked her death.
24 12 "Continuum" Craig Zisk Ryan Murphy January 16, 2013 (2013-01-16) 2ATS12 2.30[12]
Two years since his release from Briarcliff, Kit must deal with his polygamic life with Alma and Grace. Horrified of the aliens' abductions, Alma eventually becomes hysterical, chops Grace to death, and ends up being committed into Briarcliff. Sister Jude, now known as "Betty Drake", slips further into insanity at the asylum. In 1969, Lana publishes a book about her ordeal, even though it may not all be true. Alma dies in the asylum. In the present day, Johnny seeks out a copy of the book to continue his father's murderous "work".
25 13 "Madness Ends" Alfonso Gomez-Rejon Tim Minear January 23, 2013 (2013-01-23) 2ATS13 2.29[13]
In the present day, Lana Winters, now older and a famous, out-and-proud, television reporter, grants an interview in which she discusses her crusade to closing down Briarcliff and exposing Dr. Arden as a Nazi war criminal, which led to the Monsignor killing himself. It is later revealed that in 1970, Kit had secretly rescued Sister Jude from Briarcliff. Jude eventually becomes part of Kit's family, creating strong ties with his two children. Jude dies in Kit's home six months later from an apparent brain tumor. Kit develops pancreatic cancer and is taken away by the aliens, never to be seen again. Johnny confronts Lana after the interview by pointing a gun at her, and reveals that he is her son from her one-time rape by Dr. Thredson. Lana ultimately convinces Johnny to put down the gun, before shooting him herself. In the final scene, there is a flashback to the first episode, "Welcome to Briarcliff", in which Jude tries to convince Lana to give up her desires to interview the killer Bloody Face.



What you saw in the [season one] finale was the end of the Harmon house. The second season of the show will be a brand-new home or building to haunt. Just like this year, every season of this show will have a beginning, middle and end. [The second season] won't be in L.A. It will obviously be in America, but in a completely different locale.

—Executive producer Ryan Murphy on American Horror Story's second season.[14]

In October 2011, the FX Network renewed the series for a second season. In December 2011, series co-creator Ryan Murphy announced his plans to change the characters and location for the second season.[15] He did say, however, that some actors who starred in the first season would be returning. "The people that are coming back will be playing completely different characters, creatures, monsters, etc. [The Harmons'] stories are done. People who are coming back will be playing entirely new characters," he announced.[14]

In May 2012, Murphy revealed that the setting for the second season will be an institution for the criminally insane that Jessica Lange's character operates in the 1960s,[16] called Briarcliff Manor and located on the East Coast.[17] In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Murphy spoke about originally wanting to set the season in a prison: "I think at one point as we were spitballing season two before we landed on the asylum idea, we had actually talked about doing the second season in a prison but then Alcatraz came along and stole that idea. It was never very definitive but I always liked that idea. I think an insane asylum for us was probably much more effective."[18]

Talking about the season, Murphy commented: "It's a completely different world and has nothing to do with Season 1; there's not a mention of Season 1... The second season is set in a completely different time period."[19] He later said: "Everyone looks so different, people who were enemies last year are allies this year. The sets are amazing. It's 1964, so everything looks very different."[20]

"To me, last year was a family drama. This is our version of a workplace drama."

—Co-creator Brad Falchuk on the second season[17]

Murphy had also told TV Guide that there would not be any ghosts in the second season: "I think the story is horrifying," he said. "The story is a period piece in a mental institution based largely on truth and truth is always scarier than fiction."[21]

In August 2012, Murphy announced the season's new name by stating: "We picked 'Asylum' because it not only describes the setting—an insane asylum run by Jessica Lange's character which was formerly a tuberculosis ward—but also signifies a place of haven for the unloved and the unwanted," he said. "This year's theme is about sanity and tackling real life horrors."[22]

Previous consulting producer Tim Minear was promoted to executive producer and continued writing for the series, beginning with the season premiere.[23] He also scripted the season finale.


In March 2012, Murphy revealed that the second season had been conceptualized around Jessica Lange, saying: "This will really be the Jessica Lange show so I'm very excited about it. We are designing this amazing new opposite of the Constance character for her. She and I have spoken about different things. She has a lot of ideas, and has a lot of input into her character. She told me some things she has always wanted to play as an actress."[24] She portrayed Sister Jude, an apparent sadistic nun. Zachary Quinto, who had a recurring role as Chad in the first season, was confirmed as one of the leads in March 2012.[25] He portrayed Dr. Oliver Thredson, a psychiatrist with groundbreaking treatment methods that go against Sister Jude's. Comparing his new character to his previous one, Quinto said: “He’s much more grounded and in control.”[26] At the PaleyFest 2012, Evan Peters, Sarah Paulson, and Lily Rabe were confirmed to return as main cast members for the second season.[27] Paulson portrayed Lana Winters, a lesbian reporter whose girlfriend is coerced by Sister Jude into having her committed to the asylum, Rabe portrayed Sister Mary Eunice, an innocent and loyal second-in-charge to Sister Jude, and Peters portrayed Kit Walker, a man who's accused of murdering his wife, Alma (Britne Oldford), but he claims she was abducted by aliens. Murphy had stated that Peters, "who was last season's ultimate badass bad boy", would be the hero of the show this season.[16]

It was reported in March 2012 that Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine was in final negotiations to appear in the second season, and that he would play Leo, a "contemporary character and half of a couple called “The Lovers,” according to Tim Stack of Entertainment Weekly.[28] Levine revealed to E! in June 2012 that his character is "newly married" and would go with his wife on their honeymoon. "I don't want to tell you too much... but it's gory."[29] Jenna Dewan-Tatum played his wife, Teresa.[30] In April 2012, Lizzie Brocheré was cast to play Grace, a character described originally as "a fierce, ferocious, extremely sexual, and dangerous wild-child sexpot" to rival Jessica Lange's character, but the role was later heavily revamped.[31] In May 2012, James Cromwell signed on to co-star as Dr. Arthur Arden, a man who works in the asylum,[32] and who is revealed to have been a Nazi. Chloë Sevigny played the role of Shelley, a nymphomaniac whose husband has her placed in the asylum.[33]

In June 2012, actor Joseph Fiennes joined the main cast as Monsignor Timothy Howard, a possible love interest for Jessica Lange's Sister Jude.[34] Later that month, Chris Zylka was cast to play Daniel, who was touted as "the most beautiful boy in the world and a deaf mute";[35] however, Zylka was later replaced by an unmentioned actor, due to his reluctance to shave his head for the role.[36] Britne Oldford was cast in the recurring role of Alma, Peters' character's supposed dead/missing wife.[37] In July 2012, Mark Consuelos was cast as a patient named Spivey, who was described as a degenerate bully.[38] Also in July, Clea DuVall was cast as Wendy, a school teacher and Lana's girlfriend,[39] and Franka Potente was cast in an unspecified role, which was later revealed to be Anne Frank/Charlotte Brown.[40]

In August 2012, Blake Sheldon was cast in the dual role of Devon and Cooper, both described as "tall, thin and psychopathic." Ultimately Sheldon wound up portraying only Cooper.[41] Season one alum Frances Conroy guest starred as Shachath, the Angel of Death. Eric Stonestreet was scheduled to guest star again, this season as a killer, but the appearance never came to fruition.[42] Mark Margolis recurred as Sam Goodwin, while David Chisum and Amy Farrington guest starred as a caring husband and a troubled mother, respectively.[43] In mid-October, Ian McShane joined the season in the recurring role of Leigh Emerson, a psychotic man who murders people while wearing a Santa Claus suit; he has a vendetta against Sister Jude.[44] Former series co-star Dylan McDermott appeared during the second-half of the season as Johnny Morgan, the modern day Bloody Face.


Principal photography for the second season began on July 17, 2012.[24] The exteriors for the second season were filmed in Hidden Valley, Ventura County, California, a rural area outside Los Angeles.[45] The exterior filming of Briarcliff was done at the old Orange County courthouse.[46] Series production designer Mark Worthington stated: "It's referred to as Richardsonian and Romanesque. It's named after an architect named Henry Hobson Richardson. He developed the style in the 19th century. It's circular arches, heavy stone. It’s creepy, great for horror. It's dark, dark shiny brick. That's how we got away from all the hospital light stuff. There's still an institutional feel to it."[47]


Similar to the first season, FX published mini teaser trailers for the second on the show's Facebook page.[48]



American Horror Story: Asylum has received generally positive reviews from critics and scored 65 out of 100 on Metacritic based on 23 reviews.[49] The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported an 77% approval rating with an average rating of 6.6/10 based on 43 reviews. The website's consensus reads: "American Horror Story: Asylum crosses boundaries to shock and scare with sexy subplots and some innovative takes on current social issues."[50] James Poniewozik, from Time, said of the early episodes of the second season: "AHS: Asylum feels like a more focused, if equally frenetic, screamfest. It's also gorgeously realized, with a vision of its '60s institution setting so detailed you can smell the stale air and incense."[51]

Maureen Ryan of The Huffington Post said: "It's to the credit of Asylum‍ '​s writers, directors and cast that the emotional pain of the characters often feels as real as their uncertainty and terror."[52] However, Verne Gay of Newsday gave the season a C grade, writing that it "has some good special effects, just not much of a story to hang them on."[53] Linda Stasi of the New York Post thought this season was "over the top", stating: "I need to enter [an asylum] myself after two hours of this craziness."[54]

In a round-up of outstanding entertainers and programs of 2012, Jess Cagle of Entertainment Weekly praised "its ballsy, go-for-broke, don't-tax-the-attention-span-of-any-gnats-who-might-be-watching approach", writing: "You know a show has a lot going on when the occasional appearance of extraterrestrials is no more surprising than spotting a Prius on Modern Family. FX's grand experiment American Horror Story came howling back for its second terrifying season with less of a story...than a macabre, unforgettable, discordant symphony of images and characters... American Horror Story: Asylum, set mostly in the 1960s, took the current zeitgeist – with all its free-floating fear, nefarious undercurrents, and outrageous anxiety – skinned it alive, and turned it into a lamp to illuminate our collectively twisted psyche and voracious appetite for distraction."[55]

Awards and nominations[edit]

In its second season, American Horror Story: Asylum was nominated for 89 awards, and won 28.

Year Association Category Nominee(s) Result
2012 17th Satellite Awards Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or TV Film Evan Peters Nominated
Best TV Series – Genre American Horror Story: Asylum Nominated
IGN's Best of 2012: TV[56] Best Sci-Fi/Horror Series Nominated
Best TV Actress Jessica Lange Nominated
4th Dorian Awards[57] TV Performance of the Year Won
TV Drama of the Year American Horror Story: Asylum Won
LGBT-Themed TV Show of the Year Nominated
Campy TV Show of the Year Nominated
2013 3rd Critics' Choice TV Awards Best Movie or Mini-Series Nominated
Best Actress in a Movie or Mini-Series Jessica Lange Nominated
Best Supporting Actor in a Movie or Mini-Series Zachary Quinto Won
James Cromwell Nominated
Best Supporting Actress in a Movie or Mini-Series Sarah Paulson Won
Lily Rabe Nominated
19th Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series Jessica Lange Nominated
24th GLAAD Media Awards Outstanding TV Movie or Mini-Series American Horror Story: Asylum Won
29th TCA Awards Outstanding Achievement in Movies, Mini-Series, and Specials Nominated
39th Saturn Awards Best Syndicated/Cable TV Series Nominated
Best Actress on TV Sarah Paulson Nominated
Best Supporting Actress on TV Jessica Lange Nominated
70th Golden Globe Awards Best Actress – Mini-Series or TV Film Nominated
65th DGA Awards Outstanding Directing – Mini-Series or TV Film Michael Rymer for (for "Dark Cousin") Nominated
American Film Institute Awards 2012 TV Programs of the Year American Horror Story: Asylum Won
17th ADG Excellence in Production Design Awards TV Movie or Mini-Series Mark Worthington (for "I Am Anne Frank: Part 2") Won
60th MPSE Golden Reel Awards[58] Best Sound Editing: Short Form Sound Effects and Foley in TV Episode: "Welcome to Briarcliff" Won
17th Online Film & TV Association Awards[59] Best Actress in a Motion Picture or Miniseries Jessica Lange Won
Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture or Miniseries Zachary Quinto Won
James Cromwell Nominated
Evan Peters Nominated
Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture or Miniseries Sarah Paulson Won
Lily Rabe Nominated
Best Motion Picture or Miniseries American Horror Story: Asylum Won
Best Ensemble in a Motion Picture or Miniseries Won
Best Direction of a Motion Picture or Miniseries Nominated
Best Writing of a Motion Picture or Miniseries Nominated
Best Music in a Non-Series Won
Best Editing in a Non-Series Won
Best Cinematography in a Non-Series Won
Best Production Design in a Non-Series Won
Best Costume Design in a Non-Series Nominated
Best Makeup/Hairstyling in a Non-Series Nominated
Best Sound in a Non-Series Won
Best Visual Effects in a Non-Series Won
Best New Theme Song in a Non-Series Won
Best New Titles Sequence in a Non-Series Won
65th Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Miniseries or Movie Nominated
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie Jessica Lange Nominated
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Movie James Cromwell Won
Zachary Quinto Nominated
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie Sarah Paulson Nominated
65th Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards Outstanding Art Direction for a Miniseries or Movie Mark Worthington, Andrew Murdock, Ellen Brill (for "I Am Anne Frank: Part 2") Nominated
Mark Worthington, Edward L. Rubin, Ellen Brill (for "Welcome to Briarcliff") 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 "Madness Ends") Nominated
Outstanding Cinematography for a Miniseries or Movie Michael Goi (for "I Am Anne Frank: Part 2") Nominated
Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Miniseries or Movie Fabienne Bouville (for "Nor'easter") Nominated
Outstanding Hairstyling for a Miniseries or Movie Monte C. Haught, Janis Clark, Stacey K. Black, Natalie Driscoll, Michelle Ceglia Nominated
Outstanding Main Title Design Ryan Murphy, Kyle Cooper, Juan Ruiz Anchia, Kate Berry Nominated
Outstanding Make-up for a Miniseries or Movie Eryn Krueger Mekash, Kim Ayers, Silvina Knight, John Elliot Nominated
Outstanding Prosthetic Make-up for a Series, Miniseries, Movie, or Special Eryn Krueger Mekash, Mike Mekash, Hiroshi Yada, Christopher Nelson, Kim Ayers, Silvina Knight, Christien Tinsley, Jason Hamer Nominated
Outstanding Sound Editing for a Miniseries, Movie, or Special Gary Megregian, Steve M. Stuhr, Jason Krane, Christian Buenaventura, Timothy A. Cleveland, David Klotz, Andrew Dawson, Noel Vought (for "Welcome to Briarcliff") Won
Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Miniseries or Movie Sean Rush, Joe Earle, Doug Andham (for "Welcome to Briarcliff") Nominated
2nd PAAFTJ TV Awards*[60] Best Miniseries or TV Movie American Horror Story: Asylum Nominated
Best Lead Actress in Miniseries or TV Movie Jessica Lange Nominated
Best Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or TV Movie James Cromwell Nominated
Zachary Quinto Nominated
Best Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or TV Movie Sarah Paulson Nominated
Best Cast in a Miniseries or TV Movie Zachary Quinto, Joseph Fiennes, Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters, Lily Rabe, Lizzie Brocheré, James Cromwell, Jessica Lange Nominated
Best Directing for a Miniseries or TV Movie Michael Rymer (for "Dark Cousin") Nominated
Best Writing for a Miniseries or TV Movie Brad Falchuk (for "I Am Anne Frank: Part 2") Nominated
Best Artistic/Visual Achievement in a Miniseries or TV Movie Michael Goi (cinematography), Mark Worthington (production design), Andrew Murdock (art direction), Elen Brill (set decoration), Monte C. Haught (hair), Lou Eyrich (costumes) (for "I Am Anne Frank: Part 2") Nominated
Best Technical Achievement in a Miniseries or TV Movie Stewart Schill (film editing), Jason Piccioni (visual effects), John Bauman (sound mixing) (for "Madness Ends") Nominated
Bram Stoker Award 2012[61][62] Superior Achievement in a Screenplay Tim Minear (for "Dark Cousin") Nominated
27th ASC Awards[63] Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography: Motion Picture/Miniseries Michael Goi, ASC (for "I Am Anne Frank: Part 2") Nominated
BMI Film & TV Awards 2013[64] BMI Cable Award Charlie Clouser Won
Cesar Davila-Irizarry Won
29th Artios Awards[65] TV Movie or Mini-Series Robert J. Ulrich, Eric Dawson, Carol Kritzer, Eric Souliere (Associate) Nominated
49th CAS Awards[66][67] Outstanding Achievement in Sound Mixing – TV Movie or Mini-Series Sean Rush (Production Mixer)
Joe Earle, CAS (Re-recording Mixer)
Doug Andham, CAS (Re-recording Mixer)
James S. Levine (Scoring Mixer)
Judah Getz (ADR Mixer)
Kyle Billingsley (Foley Mixer)
(for "Welcome to Briarcliff")
15th CDG Awards[68] Outstanding Made for TV Movie or Mini-Series Lou Eyrich Won
5th Dorian Awards[57] TV Musical Performance of the Year Jessica Lange and cast (for "The Name Game") Nominated
8th HPA Awards[69][70] Outstanding Editing – TV Joe Leonard and Bradley Buecker, A.C.E. (for "Welcome To Briarcliff") Nominated
Key Art Awards 2013[71] Best Engagement American Horror Story: Asylum (for its Blu-Ray/DVD commercial, "AHSAsylum: Get Committed".) Won
17th PRISM Awards[72] Drama Series Multi-Episode Storyline – Substance Use Episodes: "Nor’easter", "I Am Anne Frank: Part 2", "Dark Cousin" Won
TV Guide Awards 2013[73] Favorite Villain Zachary Quinto (as Bloody Face) Nominated
Women's Image Network Awards 2013[74] Outstanding Actress Made for TV Movie/Mini-Series Jessica Lange Nominated
2014 Society of Camera Operators Awards 2014[75][76] Camera Operator of the Year - TV James Reid, SOC Nominated
25th PGA Awards Outstanding Producer of Long-Form TV Brad Buecker, Dante Di Loreto, Brad Falchuk, Alexis Martin Woodall, Tim Minear, Ryan Murphy, Jennifer Salt, Chip Vucelich, James Wong Nominated
Bram Stoker Award 2013[77][78] Superior Achievement in a Screenplay Brad Falchuk (for "Spilt Milk") Nominated
64th ACE Eddie Awards Best Edited Mini-Series or Motion Picture for TV Stewart Schill, A.C.E. (for "The Name Game") Nominated

* The Pan-American Association of Film & Television Journalists never announced the winners.


The first episode of the season gained a 2.2 ratings share among adults aged 18–49 and garnered 3.85 million viewers,[79] marking the highest numbers for the series and the highest numbers for the night's cable competition.[80]


Digital singles[edit]

Year Song Performer Episode Notes
2013 "The Name Game" Jessica Lange "The Name Game"
Note: Released by 20th Century Fox TV Records.


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External links[edit]