Who: “American Horror Story” airs on cable TV, specifically on FX, Fall Wednesdays at 10:00 PM, though it is currently on hiatus (but is ongoing).
What: “American Horror Story,” a horror drama created by Ryan Murphy (Glee, Nip/Tuck) that tells a new horror story each season while featuring recurring actors and ensemble players. This season is subtitled “Asylum” and centers on just that: an asylum for the criminally insane.
“Asylum” takes place in 1964 and follows the patients, doctors, and nuns who occupy the Briarcliff Mental Institution, located in Massachusetts and 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. The season primarily takes place throughout the 1960s with flash-forwards to 2012.
When: Season Two aired from October 17, 2012, to January 23, 2013, on FX.
Where: Each season focuses on a different locale. This season, the action is set largely somewhere in Massachusetts.
Why: Nick and Sarah, two CPU! regulars, proposed that CPU! publish an American Horror Story podcast series, being big fans of the show, and your Chief CP, who has previously covered this program on the CPU! blog and enjoys the show quite a bit, agreed wholeheartedly to the idea. Thus, welcome to our new CPU! series revolving around AHS, with each episode in the series focusing on one season of the show. The series will start at the beginning and will be ongoing as long as AHS stays on the air!
How – as in How Much Do We Love this Show?!
American Horror Story is a groundbreaking horror anthology series that airs on FX. Not only did this program render the horror genre mainstream television fare, it also propelled anthology formats to popularity. The show is widely watched and a tent pole for FX, becoming a Halloween/fall-time cable staple of disturbing imagery and grotesque scares.
Two of CPU!’s frequent panelists, and one of our resident married couples, Nick and Sarah, are big fans of the show and, as noted above, proposed that CPU! start a series discussing AHS throughout its seasons. We have already published our first episode in this series, discussing the first season of AHS, widely known as “Murder House.” Listen here:
American Horror Story Series, Episode 1, Season 1, “Murder House”
In today’s episode, the second episode of this series, we cover Season Two, “Asylum.” As the seasons are discussed and published, moderation duties will rotate among the members of our small but robust AHS panel; this episode is moderated by none other than Nick!
As we progress through this series, we will cover all aired seasons, from “Murder House” to “Hotel,” and continue the series as long as new seasons of the show are created. After all, though common cast members may return from season to season, the season story arcs are always, by design, different, and CPU! is nothing if not thorough when it comes to TV adulation! In this episode, then, we discuss our favorite and least favorite moments within the “Asylum” season and our general impressions of the season’s success.
This podcast was recorded in July 2016, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as we cover major plot points throughout the “Asylum” season. Listen at your own risk, and let us know what you think by commenting below!
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Remember, new episodes and blog posts are published weekly! Next Wednesday, we’ll continue our American Horror Story series by moving on to Season Three, which will be moderated by Sarah – and just in time to coincide with the premiere of the mysterious sixth season of AHS! Maybe the witches of the “Coven” can help us conjure some clues regarding the closely guarded secret that is the premise of Season 6…or maybe not…
American Horror Story is recommended to anyone who loves horror, to fans of Jessica Lange, and to fans of any of the AHS repertory of repeat players. As we discuss in the podcast, “Asylum,” though generally well-liked and garnering high ratings, met with mixed reactions from the panel; Nick liked it more, Kylie liked it less, and Sarah felt uncertain about it (though she conceded that she probably liked “Murder House” more). American Horror Story is groundbreaking for its successful use of the anthology format, though its horror premises are not necessarily boundary pushing; indeed, most if not all of the seasons pay significant homage to horror films of yesteryear, but the panelists regard this quality as part of the show’s charm. If you haven’t yet caught up on AHS and have a hearty stomach for the gruesome and grisly, the entire series is available at all of the streaming services, including Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon. Horror genre fans who seek more scares on TV would be remiss to miss this show!
Our next episode in this series will cover season three, “Coven,” and will be published next week alongside the AHS season 6 premiere. Stay tuned!