The Twisted Premise Of Each American Horror Story Season So Far

Looking back, I can honestly say that the first season of American Horror Story absolutely, undeniably messed me up. Had I lived in a sleek, modern home decorated with colorful accent pieces and tulips, the show probably wouldn’t have ruined me the way it did. Unfortunately, I live in a century-old, creaky house populated by trinkets, antiques, and history, much like the Harmon’s house in Los Angeles, the setting of Murder House. The more I watched of AHS, the bigger my own fear became. By the season’s end, I carried around a pair of kitchen shears whenever I was alone in the house, just in case the Rubber Man popped out from the attic.
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What fun, right? Ryan Murphy’s anthology show has a way of burrowing itself under your skin. Seven seasons it, it’s hard to keep track of the different fears, neuroses, and horror stories each season explored. This time, Murphy hits close to home: the 2016 election.
As the show goes on, threads from each disparate season are woven together. Twisty the Clown from Freak Show, for example, has a prominent role in Cult. Here's what you need to keep track of the seasons that have come before, so you can watch out for signs of a cross-over.
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American Horror Story: Murder House (Season One)

The Premise: The Harmon family is on the brink of collapse when they decide to move from Boston to a big ol’ mansion in Los Angeles. Ben (Dylan McDermott) just had an affair with a student, Vivien (Connie Britton) had a miscarriage, and their daughter, Violet (Taissa Farmiga), just can’t with it all. Moving into a house with a brutal history of murder and demonic presence doesn’t help their situation. The Harmons’ housekeeper Moira (Frances Conroy), their intrusive neighbor Constance (Jessica Lange), and her sulky son Tate (Evan Peters), seem to know something the Harmons don’t about their house. But they’ll find out, as the spirits begin to feed on each family member’s particular fears and neuroses.

Most Twisted Moments: When the Rubber Man, clad in his sleek and squeaky pitch black suit, rapes Vivien and impregnates her with the Antichrist; when Moira (Alexandra Breckenridge) bites off a potential home buyer's penis; when Tate’s extremely disturbing past as a school shooter is revealed in graphic detail; the Infantata in the attic.
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American Horror Story: Asylum (Season Two)

The Premise: Move over, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Briarcliff Manor is a ‘60s-era mental asylum with realities far more grim than any of Nurse Ratched’s most ambitiously evil schemes. Lana Winters (Sarah Paulson) is a journalist who investigates the suspicious practices of Briarcliff Manor, and ends up a patient herself. There, she discovers the extent of the horrors first-hand, like Dr. Oliver Thredson (Zachary Quinto), a psychologist who kills his patients, Sister Jude Martin (Jessica Lange), a terrifyingly stern nurse, and possible alien invasions.

Most Twisted Moments: When the Leatherface serial killer makes furniture using the skin and bones of his victims; when a horde of mutated patients, the product of a former Nazi doctor's experiments gone awry, subsist off the flesh of other patients; when Lana gives herself a coathanger abortion.
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American Horror Story: Coven (Season Three)

The Premise: Three hundred years after the Salem witch trials, America's remaining witches are scarce. To consolidate their power, and to prevent them from going extinct, budding witches convene in Miss Robichaux's Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies in New Orleans. The newest recruit, Zoe Benson (Taissa Farmiga), arrives to the dramatic house right around the time that the world's most powerful witch, Fiona Goode (Jessica Lange), returns to take over the Academy from her daughter, Cordelia Foxx (Sarah Paulson), to do things "her" way.

Most Twisted Moments: When you realized that the character of Madame Delphine LaLaurie (Kathy Bates), who tortured her slaves with dismemberment and mutation, was based off a real person; when Queenie (Gaboure Sidibe) seduces Madame LaLaurie's Minotaur; when Spalding (Denis O'Hare) turns Madison's corpse into a doll in his collection; when Cordelia stabs herself in the eyes.
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American Horror Story: Freak Show (Season Four)

The Premise: It was hard to keep track of the villains in AHS: Freak Show, which revolved around a carnival show in 1953 in Jupiter, Florida. There was Dandy Mott (Finn Wittrock), a sociopathic rich boy who's outgrown his toys, and looking for more "murderous" pursuits. There was Twisty the Clown (John Carroll Lynch), who's back for Cult. There was Stanley (Denis O'Hare) who wanted to obliterate the Freak Show's employees by putting them into museums. Equally populous were the freak show participants themselves, including conjoined twins Bette and Dot Tattler (Sarah Paulson) and the triple-breasted Ethel Darling (Kathy Bates).

Most Twisted Moments: When Twisty the Clown first graced your television screen — and then showed his true, disfigured face, partially blown off in a suicide attempt; when Chester (Neil Patrick Harris) actually saws his assistant in half; when Dandy (Finn Wittrock) murders his mother (Jessica Lange) and bathes in her blood.
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American Horror Story: Hotel (Season Five)

The Premise: What's the Hotel Cortez's score on Trip Advisor, am I right? This California hotel is home to a number of fascinating, ridiculous characters. Ostensibly, the season is about John Lowe's (Wes Bentley) hunt for a serial killer living in the hotel, but really, it was just a season-long, visually stunning wild ride with no cohesive plot. Highlights include Lady Gaga's Countess, a vampire living in the hotel penthouse, Denis O'Hare as a bald drag queen named Elizabeth Taylor, and Iris (Kathy Bates), the hotel clerk immune to the hotel's strangeness after all these years.

Most Twisted Moment: When an innocent couple is eaten by monsters living in the mattress; When heroin addict Sally (Sarah Paulson) sews herself to the bodies of her bandmates; when the Countess' first scene ends in a bloody orgy.
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American Horror Story: Roanoke (Season Six)

The Premise: After five seasons, Murphy radically changed the format of American Horror Story. The super-meta season is presented as a documentary called My Roanoke Nightmare, and switches between a modern-day couple who moves to a haunted house on Roanoke Island, and the supposed real events that occurred in Roanoke in the past.

Most Twisted Moments: When, after torturing elderly patients just for fun, the "twisted twins" are brutally murdered; when the Piggy man pops out behind the shower to get Audrey Tindall (Sarah Paulson); when Audrey and Lee (Adina Porter) are forced to partake in a cannibal feast.
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American Horror Story: Cult (Season Seven)

The Premise: Like Coven and Murder House, this season is set in the present day — the very present day. Cult begins on election night in 2016, right after Donald Trump is elected president, and weaves a horror story of fear, politics, and privilege out of the varying reactions to Trump's victory.

Most Twisted Moments: When you've had it to here with the violent clown murders; when Ivy (Alison Pill) and Ally (Sarah Paulson) have an argument over Jill Stein that you've heard before; When the babysitter (Billie Lourd) shows Oz (Cooper Dodson) videos of murders on the deep web.
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