Title: American Horror Story (Season #1: Murder House) [Meredith’s Take]
Released: 2011

Platform: Disney+


See Also: Mandy C.’s Take

Last week, the first season of American Horror Story came to an explosive a pointless conclusion, with the news that the second season will take place in an entirely new haunted house with a brand new passel of billions of ghosts crowding out the puny living humans. While the season sputtered to an inexplicable and largely aimless end, it was still one of the most hilariously trashy things I’ve seen on television in a very long time.

That’s not to say it’s good. I’m not going to lie to you, my FYA friends. American Horror Story is actually pretty bad. It’s poorly written and makes damn near no sense. But the show boasts tremendous performances from all of its principals, a magically surreal sensibility, some decent scares and a whole bunch of sexy histrionics. The entire show is a cross between Insidious, the second half of the second season of Twin Peaks and any number of Lifetime Original Movies. While I know that any one of those elements alone might not entice you, trust me that the combination of all three makes for some juicy–or at least charmingly mock-worthy–entertainment.

So if you didn’t watch AHS this season, I suggest–nay, insist!–that all lovers of trash and melodrama tune in for season two. But you’ll need a little background first. Below are all of the essential elements of American Horror Story Season 1 with which one must be familiar before diving into this sordid, ridiculous universe. Fear not — I’m keeping this primer pretty much spoiler-free.

1. Tami Taylor

Connie Britton plays the beleaguered matriarch of the Harmon clan, who are dismayed to find themselves living in the haunted Murder House. (The fact that it’s called The Murder House should have clued them in, but they evidently did very little research before purchasing the sprawling yet shockingly affordable Los Angeles estate.) Vivien Harmon becomes pregnant through some majorly nefarious means, and pretty soon she has approximately one dozen souls, living and dead, clamoring for her fetuses. Her womb is the belle of the ball! Britton takes this absurd material and elevates it into something divine every time she’s onscreen. She actually made me cry once at this stupid show. Her hair always looks amazing and she is every bit as fabulous as we have all grown to expect from her.

2. Dylan McDermot-Mulroney’s Ass

Dylan McDermott-Mulroney plays Ben, Vivien’s wayward husband. He is constantly naked. It’s not too shabby.


Lange plays the Harmon’s neighbor Constance, a theatrical, gothic vamp of the first order. She makes terribly written lines sing in her throaty, Southern voice. I literally rewatched one scene five times just to hear Jessica Lange conquer the following idiotic line:”I bet the kiddies scatter like little buggies when you walk down the street.”

4. A YA Romance

Tate (Evan Peters) is the angsty, misunderstood teen from across the street. Violet (Taissa Farmiga, Vera’s younger sister!) is the neglected, artsy daughter of Ben and Vivien. Together, they become Violate, the most tormented teen romance since whoever the last teens were. Will they ever work it out? (Probably not.) Is everything as it seems? (Definitely not.) How is Tate so cute?! (He’s not. He’s creepy.)

5. Gay Sylar

Zachary Quinto plays half of a dead gay couple who once lived in the Murder House and who now haunt it. He pays meticulous attention to decor schemes, he is the master of the “bitch please” face and he can really fill out an Oxford. Or a rubber gimp suit.

6. Rubber Gimp Suit

Don’t ask. Don’t ask because it doesn’t make a whole hell of a lot of sense. Pretty much everyone on this show either wears or encounters the gimp suit at one point or another.

7. Billions Of Ghosts

The Murder House houses dozens of dead humans, all piled up, elbowing each other to make room so that this week they can be the ones to haunt the Harmons. I would say more, but Mr. Sam Strange of BMD has already written this hilarious (and spoilery) ghost primer of American Horror Story.

8. Billions Of Deaths

We eventually get to see how all of the billions of ghosts haunting the Murder House became so, which means delightfully gruesome murders aplenty!

9. Amazing Guest Stars

Eric Stonestreet (Cam from Modern Family!), Mena Suvari and Sarah Paulson join Zachary Quinto and others, filling out the roster of super sweet guest stars that drop by AHS when they’re not filming something more highbrow.

10.  Especially Morris Chestnut

So hot. So very, very hot.

11. A Ghost Maid

She is sometimes inexplicably old even though she died young (your very own Erin pointed that out, and it’s just one of the many, many ways that the writers of AHS maddeningly ignore their own damn rules), and she is sometimes young and outrageously sexy. She sometimes looks exactly like the mom from Six Feet Under because she is, and she sometimes looks exactly like Evan Rachel Wood, yet she is not.

12. A Lifetime Psychic

The always adorable Sarah Paulson plays Billie Dean Howard, a boozy psychic with surprising abilities and a potential Lifetime pilot. I love her.

13. Crazy Mistresses

Well, really just the one. But Kate Mara plays Hayden as so deliciously, hysterically, batshit insane, she makes up for a whole buttload of crazy mistresses.

14. Antichrist Potential

Cloven hooves are mentioned! And that’s always fun.

15. The Word “Shit”

It’s on FX after 9pm, so expect some mild swearing and nudity! Which is awesome, obviously.

That should bone you up for Season Two, particularly because it doesn’t seem like season two will be connected to season one in any particular whatsoever. I find that a total bummer because I WANT JESSICA LANGE, but I still intend to tune in for nudity, tawdriness and billions of ghosts. If you’re interested, feel free to dig into my recaps over at BMD! I started midway through the season because I was previously, tragically unaware of the whole gimp suit/gay Sylar radness.

Meredith Borders is formerly the Texas-based editor of Fangoria and Birth.Movies.Death., now living and writing (and reading) in Germany. She’s been known to pop by Forever Young Adult since its inception, and she loves YA TV most ardently.