I made no secret of the fact that I loved the first season of American Horror Story. The creators and writers produced groundbreaking TV; every episode was filled with eerie, spooky, and creepy storylines with twists and turns week in and week out. No one was safe, not even the main characters played by major Hollywood actors and actresses. And the ending? Well, it wrapped up the Murder House storyline perfectly for the epic first year.
The news of the second season pickup thrilled me; even though the original story wrapped, the continuation of the series, Murder House included, had endless possibilities: fresh new faces with new Murder House residents—new owners would undoubtedly be haunted by the past and would uncover new secrets not yet brought to light in the first season; the ghosts—we all learned that even when dead, no one leaves the Murder House; and heck, even the same characters from season one technically could have continued in one way or another—not everyone died, and even those that did had room to continue with a little creativity.
But Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk took season two in an entirely different direction. Together, they created American Horror Story: Asylum.
The series kept a few of our favorite leads from the first year (Jessica Lange, Evan Peters) and brought back a few of the supporting cast (Frances Conroy, Lily Rabe, Sarah Paulson, and Zachary Quinto) as well. But no one returning for season two played the same character—Constance (Lange), Tate (Peters), Moira (Conroy), Nora (Rabe), Billie Dean (Paulson), and Chad (Quinto) were gone; instead, we had Sister Jude (Lange), Kit (Peters), The Angel of Death (Conroy), Sister Mary Eunice (Rabe), Lana (Paulson), and Dr. Oliver Thredson (Quinto).
New characters were also introduced in season two with well-known actors and actresses accepting the roles (Joseph Fiennes, James Cromwell, Chloe Sevigny, Adam Levine, and Mark Consuelos to just name a few).
But not only did the characters change, the story was completely different. Instead of the Murder House, we had Briarcliff—the mental hospital/insane asylum—where again, it seems no one ever really escapes. Unlike the first season, which took place in the present, season two takes place in the 1960s for the most part. Instead of the theme of infidelity like in season one, season two focuses largely on themes/things that could have happened, have happened and were rumored to have happened, and might possibly happen again in the future, making it even creepier than season one… if that’s at all possible.
In lieu of the creepy and spooky, the stories were primarily dark, twisted, and extremely bothersome… bordering on disgusting. Perhaps one of the reasons season two was so gripping was because of the controversial storylines: aliens, demonic possession, abuse at the hands of medical professionals and the Catholic Church, the inhumane treatment of those locked away in the mental hospital/insane asylum… all simply because those in charge could get away with it. As mentioned before, all of these things could have happened in real life, have happened, and will quite possibly happen again in the future. That’s why American Horror Story: Asylum was scary—different from the purely suspenseful themes in the first year.
“If you look in the face of evil, evil’s gonna look right back at you.” ~ Sister Jude to Lana
For me, I enjoyed the first year more than the second… as far as the story is concerned, anyway. The acting and characters? They were still just as impressive. Once again, Jessica Lange and Even Peters carried the show with help from American Horror Story alumni Sarah Paulson and Zachary Quinto. I watched every single week just for the cast. Now, I’m not saying season two was bad, just different and not as good in my opinion. In keeping with the first year, the unique storytelling, twists, and revelations of Asylum were simply genius and still unlike anything else on TV today.
For the most part, there was one central theme/mystery in AHS: Asylum—Bloody Face. In the ‘60s, a man murdered and skinned women. One young man was arrested for the crimes and sentenced to Briarcliff, but he never wavered and always declared his innocence. Was he Bloody Face? Of course not; that would have been too easy. The identity of the real Bloody Face was a twist all its own. But that’s all I will say—no spoilers here.
I will say this though: I loved how almost every single actor/actress from season one, if not cast as a major or supporting character in two, was at least cast in a recurring role or cameo appearance in Asylum. Almost everyone… Connie Britton didn’t appear once, and that was a bummer, but understandable considering her new hit on ABC (Nashville). And just when I was beginning to think Dylan McDermott wouldn’t make an appearance either, he did. And WHAT a role he played!
Like its predecessor, American Horror Story: Asylum closed just as nicely as the first… perhaps even better. Every story was wrapped up in a big red bow with no questions or cliffhangers left dangling. We know a season three has already been announced, leaving us with just one question: what in the world can we look forward to next year?
What do you think? Did you watch American Horror Story: Asylum? Did you prefer season one or season two? I’d love to hear from you!