Jessica Lange and the cast of American Horror Story Asylum

How To Watch Every Campy Season of ‘American Horror Story’ in Chronological Order

Ok but in one season they ACTUALLY go to camp.

It’s time to brace yourself as we enter the world of American Horror Story. Yes, that’s right, we’re venturing through multiple timelines and it’s going to get bloody. American Horror Story is a horror anthology series with a new theme each season, and often the same actors appear playing different roles. Each season of American Horror Story season exists in the same universe and there have been multiple crossover seasons. There’s no telling where American Horror Story season 12 (American Horror Story: Delicate) which will star Kim Kardashian (trust me, not everyone is thrilled), falls in the timeline of this series. And whether or not it will mention any characters from previous seasons.

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One of the biggest questions fans have when revisiting the series is: How do we watch American Horror Story in chronological order? Below is the release order, but I’m about to discuss the current chronological watching order. Cue your favorite American Horror Story and let’s go!

  • American Horror Story: Murder House
  • American Horror Story: Asylum
  • American Horror Story: Coven
  • American Horror Story: Freak Show
  • American Horror Story: Hotel
  • American Horror Story: Roanoke
  • American Horror Story: Cult
  • American Horror Story: Apocalypse
  • American Horror Story: 1984
  • American Horror Story: Double Feature
  • American Horror Story: NYC

American Horror Story: Freak Show

Sarah Paulson as Bette and Dot raising their glasses in American Horror Story: Freak Show
(FX)

American Horror Story: Freak Show is set in the 1950s and is an incredibly underappreciated season of the series. The season follows a group of misfits part of one of the last carnivals in America. Of course, there are multiple antagonists including a murderous clown, ghosts, and the epitome of white male privilege a.k.a Dandy Mott (Finn Wittrock). This is where you begin as far as your chronological watch into the world of AHS.

American Horror Story: Asylum

American Horror Story Asylum Lily Rabe
(FX)

American Horror Story: Asylum is set in the ’60s (primarily) and follows the disturbing inner workings of a psychiatric facility. It’s a difficult season in regard to the social issues explored and how there is very little comedic relief. I highly recommend folks pace themselves when doing a chronological binge-watch. But don’t fret because there is an iconic dance sequence that’s not real but should be. Another fun fact: Pepper (Naomi Grossman) from AHS: Freak Show has a minor role.

American Horror Story: NYC

Big Daddy in 'American Horror Story: NYC'
(FX)

It’s not a well-loved season of the series, but American Horror Story: NYC does tackle the AIDS epidemic and that is queer history that can’t be ignored. Set in the ’80s and following queer people during the AIDS epidemic, there is a serial killer that’s murdering gay men. American Horror Story: NYC really captures the grittiness of New York and the time period in which it’s set. The controversial ’80s film Cruising comes to mind when watching this season but with a murderous Ryan Murphy twist.

American Horror Story: 1984

Angelica Ross as Donna Chambers in American Horror Story: 1984
(FX)

American Horror Story: 1984 is fun but it should have been a straight-up slasher season. The season follows a group of young folks who visit a camp that has a bit of a serial killer problem. In one single night, so many folks die and then the rest of the season focuses on ghosts (Ryan Murphy loves ghosts clearly) and real-life serial killer Richard Ramirez (Zach Villa). Despite the writing issues and the unnecessary ghost element, the campiness and performances from much of the cast will keep you engaged.

American Horror Story: Murder House

Evan Peters as Tate Langdon in AHS: Murder House
(FX)

Despite how American Horror Story: Murder House comes later chronologically, we wouldn’t have a series without it. American Horror Story: Murder House follows a dysfunctional family that moves into a house inhabited by mostly dangerous and violent spirits. The Harmon family suffers so tremendously the moment they move into what becomes known as the Murder House. The first season is quite the introduction into the world of American Horror Story and Evan Peters as an eventual AHS alum.

American Horror Story: Coven

Angela Bassett as Marie Laveau American Horror Story
(FX)

American Horror Story: Coven is one of the best seasons of AHS. The season is primarily set in 2013 (there are A LOT of flashbacks) and focuses on a coven of witches trying to survive witch hunters … and each other. As far as subject matter goes—although it is not perfectly explored—this season isn’t afraid to broach the topic of intersectionality and race. The history of New Orleans is tapped into quite a bit and some of the most iconic characters of the universe came out of this season.

American Horror Story: Roanoke

Lady Gaga as Scathach and Leslie Jordan as Cricket in American Horror Story: Roanoke
(FX)

Found footage and American Horror Story collide in American Horror Story: Roanoke. The season is set in 2014 and is shot documentary style as it follows the horrific events that take place in a North Carolina farmhouse—and also what comes after when the cast of reenactors and their real-life counterparts return to the farmhouse. It shucks off previous seasons’ vibes and is incredibly macabre in its events and their depictions. The season will unnerve fans who are more used to the more campy vibes of AHS.

American Horror Story: Hotel

American Horror Story Hotel Lady Gaga
(FX)

The messiness of American Horror Story: Hotel is easily forgotten if you just focus on the iconic looks and performances. Set in 2015 it follows the forever inhabitants of a haunted hotel which include vampires, serial killers, and rude real estate agents. It’s one of the most bonkers seasons with twist after twist. And if you’ve forgotten I must remind you that Lady Gaga is the personification of bisexual chaos throughout the season and it was her introduction into the world of AHS.

American Horror Story: Cult

Evan Peters in American Horror Story Cult
(FX)

Tackling the insidiousness of Donald Trump’s presidency for a whole season is…exhausting. American Horror Story: Cult focuses on the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election and a group of people looking to stoke fear. It is—and isn’t— a serious season and the often shaky plot is rough to sit through. It does have its moments and Evan Peters shines, so if you make it this far in your chronological watch then I applaud you.

American Horror Story: Apocalypse

Sarah Paulson standing in a black outfit as Cordelia Goode in American Horror Story: Apocalypse
(FX)

American Horror Story: Apocalypse crosses over with three other seasons, American Horror Story: Coven, American Horror Story: Murder House, and American Horror Story: Hotel and it is a lot to keep up with. The season is set in 2020 and follows a nuclear event that kicks off an apocalypse. The witches from Coven return to bust up Michael Langdon (Cody Fern) who was confirmed to be the Antichrist in Murder House. It wouldn’t be controversial to dislike this season due to all its unhinged twists, but it’s a necessary watch if you want to fully experience the crossovers.

American Horror Story: Double Feature

Evan Peters American Horror Story Austin Sommers
(FX)

American Horror Story: Double Feature is a two-part story mostly set in 2021. The first part is Red Tide and focuses on a family living in a weird beach town. The second part is Death Valley and it focuses on alien experiments and a government conspiracy. Red Tide is obviously the better story (aside from that terrible finale) and Death Valley could have been good if it was, well, written better. There’s really only so much to say about this season because it’s so all over the place, but making it all to the end of your chronological watch is commendable!

(featured image: FX)


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Author
Vanessa Maki
Vanessa Maki (she/her) is a queer Blerd and contributing writer for The Mary Sue. She first started writing for digital magazines in 2018 and her articles have appeared in Pink Advocate (defunct), The Gay Gaze (defunct), Dread Central and more. She primarily writes about movies, TV, and anime. Efforts to make her stop loving complex/villainous characters or horror as a genre will be futile.