AMERICAN HORROR STORY
Season 1: Murder House (2011)
The first season, retroactively titled American Horror Story: Murder House, is about infidelity. The story takes place in 2011 and follows the Harmon family: psychiatrist Ben (Dylan McDermott), his wife Vivien (Connie Britton), and their teenage daughter Violet (Taissa Farmiga), who move from Boston to Los Angeles after Vivien has a miscarriage and Ben has an affair. The Harmons move into a restored mansion and soon encounter the home's former residents, the Langdons – Constance (Jessica Lange) and her two children, Tate (Evan Peters) and Addie (Jamie Brewer) – and the disfigured Larry Harvey (Denis O'Hare). Ben and Vivien try to rekindle their relationship, as Violet, suffering from depression, finds comfort with Tate. The Langdons and Larry frequently influence the Harmons' lives, as the family discovers that the home is haunted by the ghosts of anyone who has ever died on the property.
Season 2: Asylum (2012–13)
The second season, titled American Horror Story: Asylum, is about sanity. The story takes place in 1964 and follows the patients, doctors and nuns who occupy the Briarcliff Mental Institution, founded to treat and house the criminally insane. The wardens who run the institution include the stern Sister Jude (Jessica Lange), her protégé Sister Mary Eunice (Lily Rabe) and the founder of the institution, Monsignor Timothy Howard (Joseph Fiennes). The doctors charged with treating the patients at the asylum include psychiatrist Dr. Oliver Thredson (Zachary Quinto) and the sadistic scientist Dr. Arthur Arden (James Cromwell). The patients, many of whom claim to be unjustly institutionalized, include lesbian journalist Lana Winters (Sarah Paulson), accused serial killer Kit Walker (Evan Peters), nymphomaniac Shelley (Chloe Sevigny) and alleged murderer Grace Bertrand (Lizzie Brocheré). Briarcliff's inhabitants are routinely subject to supernatural and scientific influences, including demonic possession and extraterrestrial abduction.
Season 3: Coven (2013–14)
The third season, titled American Horror Story: Coven, is about oppression; specifically, the oppression of marginalized groups and female empowerment. After the Salem witch trials, descendants of the witches who survived are nearly extinct and are in danger once again. Those who share this unique bloodline are being subjected to strange and violent attacks. A mysterious all-girls boarding school has opened in New Orleans to protect and house young women who carry this genetic affliction, and keep them from the dangers of the outside world. The long-absent Supreme, and most powerful witch of her generation, Fiona Goode (Jessica Lange), arrives to ensure the safety of the Coven, but also to fulfill her own hidden agenda. Fiona's daughter, Cordelia (Sarah Paulson), teaches at the school and welcomes its newest student, Zoe Benson (Taissa Farmiga), who harbors her own harrowing secret. Events reveal a long-held rivalry between the witches of Salem and the voodoo practitioners of New Orleans, as well as a historic grudge between Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau (Angela Bassett) and socialite serial killer Delphine LaLaurie (Kathy Bates). Other themes include witchcraft, voodoo, racism, and family, such as the relationships between mothers and daughters. The season is set primarily in the modern day and includes flashbacks to the early 1970s and the 1830s.
Season 4: Freak Show (2014–15)
The fourth season, titled American Horror Story: Freak Show, is about discrimination, particularly people who are classified as "freaks" by the public. The story takes place in 1952 in the quiet town of Jupiter, Florida and follows a struggling freak show led by Elsa Mars (Jessica Lange). Decades have passed since the public have looked upon freak shows as a form of entertainment, but Elsa dreams of finding a home for her "monsters", as well as her own fame. When conjoined twins Bette and Dot Tattler (Sarah Paulson) are taken to the hospital, Elsa sees her chance to finally drum up some business for her sideshow, hoping the two sisters will save her troupe once and for all. Other members include Jimmy Darling (Evan Peters), a boy born with syndactyly who dreams of leaving the carny life behind and living a normal life. Jimmy's mother, the bearded lady Ethel Darling (Kathy Bates), is Elsa's second in command and maintains law and order under the tent. A Strongman from Ethel's troubled past named Dell Toledo (Michael Chiklis), and his three-breasted wife, Desiree Dupree (Angela Bassett), make waves when they arrive at the sideshow. In a time when the era of television is beginning to reign high above sideshow acts, these individuals must overcome those who persecute them based on their looks. However, as events unfold, it is revealed that a dark entity (John Carroll Lynch) has taken up residence in Jupiter and is not happy about the band of freaks being there.