These Are The Best American Horror Story Episodes According To Ryan Murphy
“American Horror Story,” co-created by Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk, recently wrapped up its 10th season, and it was a divisive one. Not everyone was happy with “Double Feature,” but with the horror anthology series renewed by FX through Season 13, Murphy has plenty of time to win back the hearts and minds of viewers. Not that Murphy and Falchuk’s missteps ever seem to diminish the audience’s excitement for the next installment’s arrival, including some of the series’ staunchest critics.
Each season of the long-running series features a new theme with members of the ensemble cast tackling different characters (sometimes several at a time). Murphy and Falchuk put their unique spin on everything from haunted houses to ghosts to cults, often combining real-life characters, events, and locations to elevate the creepiness factor.
Like viewers, who have their favorite seasons, episodes, story arcs, and characters (the good, the bad, and the downright ugly), even Murphy has his favorite episodes, which he sat down to discuss with Entertainment Weekly in 2019. Here are a few that stand out for the uber-producer.
The Murder House pilot wil 'always be number one' in Murphy's heart
Ryan Murphy told Entertainment Weekly that the pilot episode — the very first episode of “Murder House” — will always be “number one in my heart.” One reason is that the endeavor was a labor of love for Murphy and Brad Falchuk, and the concept was unconventional. “From rough idea to day one of filming took four years. It was a huge risk at the time, creatively and financially,” Murphy said. Network executives were trepidatious but ultimately had faith in Murphy’s vision. “That first season sort of reinvented the anthological storytelling space that I loved as a kid and has ushered in a whole new way of MAKING television (creatively and economically), and I’m very proud of that,” he continued.
Murphy also recalled his excitement over working with the cast, including Connie Britton, Dylan McDermott, and the incomparable Jessica Lange, who would turn out to be one of his primary muses for the first four seasons. “Jessica was an idol growing up, and on our first day I am sure she thought I was from outer space. It was such a privilege working with her,” Murphy said.
“Murder House” definitely set the tone for what was to come, and Murphy’s affection for Season 1 is evident since he revisits some of the characters and location in Season 8, “Apocalypse,” as well as in the “AHS” spinoff “American Horror Stories.”
The first episode of Hotel is also a Murphy favorite
“Checking In,” the premiere episode of Season 5, aka “Hotel,” also ranks among Murphy’s all-time faves. Murphy attributes this almost entirely to Lady Gaga, who plays The Countess. “I am so proud of where she’s gone as an actress, but she always had chops, right from the minute she stepped on the set. She is a born actress.” Gaga has since received an Oscar nomination for Best Actress in 2019 for her role in Bradley Cooper’s “A Star is Born” remake, and she’s generating buzz for her turn as Patrizia Reggiani in Ridley Scott’s “House of Gucci.”
Before making her “AHS” debut, the pop star proved she had a flair for drama with her red carpet ensembles and creative music videos. Murphy found his working relationship with Gaga to be a collaborative one. “We spent hours on the looks, the backstory of The Countess,” he told Entertainment Weekly.
Murphy credited Gaga and co-star and on-screen love interest Matt Bomer for being “fearless” about their sex scene and the subsequent bloodletting, and he ranks their hunt for their victims as one of his favorite sequences.
Ryan Murphy credits Sarah Paulson for making a season 8 episode of AHS his favorite
Murphy was effusive in his praise of “Return to Murder House,” the 6th episode of Season 8, aka “Apocalypse.”
“I love love love this episode, largely because I love love love Sarah Paulson so much,” Murphy told Entertainment Weekly. Paulson pulled double duty directing the episode and reprising her role as psychic Billie Dean Howard. Murphy praised everything about Paulson’s directing, including her technical savvy and working relationships with the other actors. “I felt Sarah really elevated this work, as she always did. I like to keep challenging her because I honestly think she can do anything,” Murphy said.
The episode also marked Jessica Lange’s return to “AHS” since exiting the series after Season 4, which also proved to be a thrill for Murphy. However, there’s a lot more to love about “Return to Murder House.” Another plus is the chemistry between Emma Roberts’ Madison Montgomery and Billy Porter’s Behold Chablis. Fans also finally got the backstory on Michael Langdon (Cody Fern), aka “the Antichrist.” Also in this season, star-crossed lovers Tate Langdon (Evan Peters) and Violet Harmon (Taissa Farmiga) reunite after Madison intervenes.
'Making America Great Again' is Murphy's favorite episode of his favorite season
Not only is “Make America Great Again,” the 11th episode of “American Horror Story: Cult,” Ryan Murphy’s favorite 7th-season episode, the installment is also his favorite overall. Murphy told Entertainment Weekly he and Brad Falchuk “felt so passionately about the story, about the terrifying rise of [Donald] Trump, of people falling under the spell of the cult of personality.”
The season centers around Kai Anderson (Peters), who capitalizes on a fractured country to further his twisted agenda. Enter Ally Mayfair-Richards (Paulson), a privileged woman whose many phobias make her appear incredibly coddled and self-indulgent. As Kai becomes increasingly unhinged, Ally evolves into a formidable adversary. “Largely this episode is my favorite because the pairing of Paulson vs Evan Peters was my favorite antagonist/protagonist thing we have ever done. They are so close and really understand how to work with each other, and get underneath each other’s skin like brother and sister, so it really clicked,” Murphy said.
Murphy also said he was “stunned” by the “depth” of Billie Lourd’s performance as Winter Anderson, and that he was excited to work with real-life chum Leslie Grossman, who played Meadow Wilton.