What Is the First Season of American Horror Story?

American Horror Story has become a cultural phenomenon since its debut in 2011. The horror anthology series created by Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk has captivated audiences with its unique stories, unforgettable characters, and terrifying imagery. However, with ten seasons and counting, it can be overwhelming for newcomers to know where to start. In this article, we’ll be taking a closer look at the first season of American Horror Story, also known as “Murder House.”

Overview of American Horror Story

Before diving into the first season, let’s first define what American Horror Story is. The series is an anthology, meaning that each season tells a self-contained story with its own unique characters, setting, and themes. While some actors have appeared in multiple seasons, they play different roles in each one. This unique format allows the show to explore a wide range of horror sub-genres, from haunted houses to asylums, witches to clowns, and everything in between.

American Horror Story has been praised for its innovative storytelling, bold visuals, and talented ensemble cast. It has garnered numerous awards and nominations over the years, including Emmy Awards for Jessica Lange’s performances in various seasons, Outstanding Limited Series, and Outstanding Sound Editing. With each new season, fans eagerly anticipate what twisted tales the showrunners have in store.

First Season of American Horror Story

The first season of American Horror Story, also known as “Murder House,” premiered on October 5, 2011. The season follows the Harmon family, who move into a beautiful Victorian mansion in Los Angeles, unaware of the dark history that haunts the property. As they settle into their new home, they encounter a series of strange occurrences, including ghostly apparitions and unexplainable events. The Harmon family soon realizes that they are not alone in the house, and they must confront the evil forces that dwell within its walls.

The season features an all-star cast, including Connie Britton, Dylan McDermott, Evan Peters, and Taissa Farmiga. It explores themes of infidelity, addiction, family, and the supernatural. The first season of American Horror Story received critical acclaim and introduced viewers to the unique and twisted world of the series.

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First Season of American Horror Story (Continued)

Title and Release Date

As mentioned earlier, the first season of American Horror Story is also known as “Murder House.” It aired on FX on October 5, 2011, and ran for 12 episodes until its finale on December 21, 2011. The season was a commercial and critical success, paving the way for future seasons of the series.

Plot Summary

The first season of American Horror Story follows the story of the Harmon family, who move into a mansion in Los Angeles, hoping to start a new life after a series of personal and professional setbacks. They soon discover that the house has a dark history, and they are not the only ones residing there. The spirits of the former residents, who met their gruesome ends inside the house, still haunt its walls. As the family becomes entangled in the supernatural forces that dwell within the house, they must fight for their survival and sanity.

Main Characters and their Roles

The first season of American Horror Story features a talented ensemble cast, with each actor delivering memorable performances. Connie Britton and Dylan McDermott play Vivien and Ben Harmon, the married couple who move into the house with their daughter, Violet, portrayed by Taissa Farmiga. Evan Peters plays Tate Langdon, a troubled teenager with a dark secret. Jessica Lange plays Constance Langdon, Tate’s mother and a former resident of the house. Other notable cast members include Frances Conroy, Denis O’Hare, and Alexandra Breckenridge.

Themes and Motifs

The first season of American Horror Story explores several recurring themes, including family, infidelity, addiction, and the supernatural. The show also makes use of various motifs, such as the rubber man suit, the black Dahlia, and the piggy man.

One of the primary themes of the first season is the idea of family. The Harmon family is the central focus of the season, and their dysfunction is a significant driving force of the story. The show explores the various ways in which family members can hurt and betray each other, as well as the lengths they will go to protect one another.

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Another recurring theme is addiction. Several characters in the season struggle with addiction, including Ben Harmon, who is a psychiatrist with a history of infidelity and substance abuse. The show explores the destructive nature of addiction and its effects on both the individual and those around them.

The first season of American Horror Story also makes use of several motifs, which are recurring symbols or images that carry significant meaning. One such motif is the rubber man suit, which is worn by a mysterious figure that appears throughout the season. The suit represents deception, as it obscures the wearer’s identity and allows them to commit acts without fear of being recognized.

Another motif is the black Dahlia, which refers to the unsolved murder of Elizabeth Short, whose dismembered body was found in a vacant lot in Los Angeles in 1947. The show makes several references to the black Dahlia, using it as a symbol of violence and death.

Finally, the piggy man is another recurring motif in the season. It is a reference to an urban legend about a man who butchered pigs and wore their skin as a suit. The piggy man represents fear and terror, as well as the idea that evil can take many forms.

Reception and Impact

Critical Reception of the First Season

The first season of American Horror Story was met with critical acclaim upon its release. Critics praised the show’s unique storytelling, memorable characters, and unsettling imagery. The series also received accolades for its exceptional casting and acting performances. Connie Britton and Dylan McDermott’s portrayal of the Harmon family was praised for its authenticity, while Jessica Lange’s performance as the unhinged neighbor, Constance, earned her an Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie.

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Impact on the Horror Genre and Television Industry

American Horror Story has had a significant impact on both the horror genre and the television industry as a whole. The series has revived interest in the anthology format, paving the way for other shows like Fargo, Black Mirror, and True Detective. It has also inspired a new wave of horror storytelling, with other shows exploring the themes and sub-genres that American Horror Story has popularized.

The show’s success has also led to numerous spin-offs and related projects, including the anthology series American Crime Story and the horror-comedy series Scream Queens. American Horror Story has also spawned a dedicated fan base, with viewers eagerly anticipating each new season and dissecting every detail of the show’s intricate plotlines.

Awards and Nominations

The first season of American Horror Story was a critical and commercial success, receiving numerous award nominations and wins. The show was nominated for 17 Primetime Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Limited Series, and won two for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie (Jessica Lange) and Outstanding Sound Editing. The series also received a Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series – Drama.


The first season of American Horror Story, “Murder House,” set the stage for the unique and twisted world of the series. It introduced viewers to the anthology format, memorable characters, and unsettling imagery that have become hallmarks of the show. The critical and commercial success of the first season paved the way for more seasons and spin-offs, cementing American Horror Story as a cultural phenomenon.

Looking ahead, the future of American Horror Story remains bright. With ten seasons and counting, the show continues to explore new themes and sub-genres, keeping viewers on the edge of their seats with every episode. As the horror genre and television industry continue to evolve, American Horror Story remains a trailblazer, pushing the boundaries of what is possible in storytelling and captivating audiences with its unique brand of horror.

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