American Horror Story: Murder House

american horror story murder house season 1 poster review episode guide
7.0 Overall Score
Story: 6/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 7/10

Jessica Lange is fun, good concept

Bad ending, ridiculous plot


Hey, I’ve got a house for you!

The Harmons are rebuilding their lives in a new city.  Ben (Dylan McDermott) and Vivien (Connie Britton) are trying to repair their marriage after Ben’s affair with a girl named Hayden (Kate Mara) and a miscarriage by Vivien.  Their daughter Violet (Taissa Farmiga) is struggling with school and the move.  The only problem with the Harmons’ new home is that they aren’t alone.  A history of deaths and horrible events follow the house and now the Harmons are poised to become new victims.  A strange man in a rubber suit, a burned man named Larry (Denis O’Hare), a troubled boy named Tate (Evan Peters), and a nosy neighbor named Constance (Jessica Lange) all seem to know something…with the Harmons find out the secrets before they are victims?

american horror story murder house season 1 cast photo review guide list

They’re creepy & they’re kooky…

American Horror Story was created by Glee and Nip/Tuck creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk.  With the release of subsequent titled seasons, this season has been renamed American Horror Story:  Murder House.  The first season aired on FX from October 5, 2011 and December 21, 2011 and was made up of twelve one hour episodes.  Jessica Lange won an Emmy for Supporting Actress for her performance as Constance.

I have to say, other than the last episode, American Horror Story was a dirty pleasure. It wasn’t very good, it wasn’t very scary, but it was fun.  Much like Nip/Tuck which I thought was watchable (especially Season 3 with the Carver), it also wasn’t very good…but it was fun.  American Horror Story falls along these lines.  The plots are generic, the characters are half-way interesting and the acting is pretty good by a number of the major players.


What the hell is your purpose, Frankenstein baby?

There are just open stories and plotlines everywhere.  Is the house evil?  Why does Moira want to be “found” and buried…it seems that no one who is buried leaves (aka Tate, Vivien, Ben).  What the hell is up with the Infantata in the basement?  Did Montgomery really create a monster?  It seems unlikely because other than that, the series seems to be based in “reality”. There is also the question of Constance’s fourth son who is never mentioned or makes an appearance.  Does the house repair itself?  How did it go from being completely junked and stripped down in 1978 to being fixed in the ’80s with original fixtures and lights?  Also is the entire house completely sound proof (including the backyard)?  The characters would stomp around, have arguments, and scream at each other everywhere in the house, but no one in the house would notice.  Plus, we know Constance lives next door but who are the poor neighbors to the left of the house.  It just seems poorly planned and written when considering these aspects.



*****Spoiler Alert***** The biggest problem with American Horror Story—Season 1 is the final episode that goes on and on forever.  First there’s the whole Ben’s death aspect which feels like it should have been its own episode or in the previous episode.  It is followed by a long segment where the ghosts (including the Harmons) decide to play Beetlejuice and scare the tenants with some ridiculous set-ups with the other ghosts.  This still is not the end with a really lame Christmas and then a three years later where Jessica Lange hangs out with the Antichrist…stupid.  Does one episode ruin a whole series?  Kind of.


I won’t be back! (Allegedly)

I have a feeling a lot of people are going to be disappointed with American Horror Story—Season 2 regardless if it has a fantastic plot.  The reason is that it has nothing to do with season 1.  Jessica Lange returns in a different role, but allegedly Murphy and Falchuk have always seen this as an anthology series with different stories each season.  This is something that viewers aren’t used to anymore and many will feel that they have a vested interest in the characters whose stories are “finished” according the creators.  The audience will make the deciding vote however when Season 2 picks up.  American Horror Story—Season 2 has been titled American Horror Story:  Asylum.

American Horror Story—Season 1 Complete Episode Guide:



1.1       Pilot Airdate:  10/05/11

In 1978, two children enter the basement of the house…neither leave alive.  Dr. Ben Harmon (Dylan McDermott) and Vivien Harmon (Connie Britton) are having problems.  After a miscarriage and an affair by Ben, they’ve decided to move with their daughter Violet (Taissa Farmiga) to Los Angeles.  When they find a house with a bit of a history (but at a big price break), they decide to take a chance.  Immediately, problems begin to arise.  Their next door neighbor Constance Langdon (Jessica Lange) and her child Adelaide “Addie” Langdon (Jamie Brewer) with Down syndrome inject themselves into their lives.  A strange maid named Moira O’Hara who appears old (played by Frances Conroy) to Vivien appears young (played by Alexandra Breckenridge) to Ben.  Their daughter is also struggling with school but has found an interest in a new patient of Ben’s named Tate (Evan Peters), but horror in the basement may change her view of him when they try to scare Leah (Shelby Young).  Ben gets a warning from a burn victim named Larry (Denis O’Hare) with his own story about the house.  After an encounter with a man in a rubber suit which Vivien thinks is Ben, Vivian finds herself pregnant again…but who is the father?


“Home Invasion”

1.2       Home Invasion Airdate:  10/12/11

In 1968, a man comes to the door of the house saying he was in an accident.  He kills a nurse and forces another girl to dress like a nurse before killing her.  Vivien deals with her new pregnancy and worries something is wrong with the child.  Ben takes on a new patient named Bianca (Mageina Tovah) obsessed with the killings in the home but finds his past with his mistress Hayden (Kate Mara) is coming back to haunt him.  Violet learns from Leah that she believes it was more than Tate and that the devil is in the house.  Larry warns Ben that the house will use his past against him.  Constance’s attempt to poison Violet backfires.  A raid of the house to recreate the murder of the nurses forces Violet and Vivien to fight for their lives, as the mystery of the house continues to grow.


“Murder House”

1.3       Murder House Airdate:  10/19/11

Constance discovers her husband Hugo (Eric Close) forcing himself on her maid Moira in 1983 and kills them both.  Vivien learns that all the money the family has is tied up in the house and plans to sell it might endanger the health of the baby.  After facing off against Moira, Ben suffers blackouts which leave him on the grass outside the home and worrying that he might have harmed a patient.  Vivien takes a Haunted Hollywood tour and learns about the first owners of the home a surgeon who performed illegal abortions (Matt Ross) and his wife Nora (Lily Rabe).  Ben’s Hayden problem resurfaces when Hayden follows him to Los Angeles, but Larry provides a solution to Ben’s problems.  Vivien finds herself with a new undead visitor.


“Halloween, Part 1”

1.4       Halloween, Part 1 Airdate:  10/26/11

Chad (Zachary Quinto) and Patrick (Teddy Sears) find themselves struggling in the house in 2010 and discover their relationship is falling apart.  As Halloween approaches, an attack by the Rubber Man leaves them both dead.  Vivien goes for more security and gets Luke (Morris Chestnut) to put a new alarm system.  As Halloween approaches, the dead are free to walk the Earth and more mysteries of the home are coming to light.  Larry demands money for killing Hayden and threatens to expose her place of burial.  With fears that the house won’t sell “fluffers” are hired to make it look better, but Vivien and Ben discover they are Patrick and Chad.  Ben agrees to keep seeing Tate as long as Tate sees him out of the house.  Moira’s free night means a visit to see her mother.  Tate reveals the fate of the child of the Montgomerys to Violet and how it is still in the house.  Vivien uncovers Ben’s contact with Hayden which sparks problems for the baby ending in a trip to the hospital.  Left alone in the house, Violet is faced with Larry and the Rubber Man.  Addie’s desire to be pretty leads to tragedy.


“Halloween, Part 2”

1.5       Halloween, Part 2 Airdate:  11/02/11

Violet is contacted by Tate who gets her out of the house before her parents arrive, but Tate and Violet are faced by memories of Tate’s past.  Vivien and Ben discover intruders in their home, and while Ben deals with Larry, Vivien is plagued by Hayden.  Ben finds unlikely help in dealing with Larry, and Vivien learns the truth of what happened in Boston.  When Luke is called in to handle Hayden, he learns that there may be more to the house than he believed.  Violet learns of Addie’s death from Constance and uncovers Constance’s relationship to Tate.  Dawn breaks on Halloween night and the spirits are forced to return to their home.


“Piggy, Piggy”

1.6       Piggy, Piggy Airdate:  11/09/11

Violet learns the truth about Tate and his rampage at school from Constance and meets a psychic named Billie Dean (Sarah Paulson) who is trying to get Tate to cross over.  Ben is forced to move out by Vivien who is dealing with the fear that her child might not be normal.  Ben continues to treat patients at the house and meets with a man (Eric Stonestreet) obsessed with the urban legend of Piggy-Man.  Moira and Constance help feed Vivien and Vivien finds her hunger has turned to sweetbreads.  Violet is awakened to the horrors of the house and is once again saved by Tate when she makes a mistake.  Constance speaks to Addie through Billie Dean and learns Addie is glad she wasn’t trapped at the house because she’s afraid of Tate.


“Open House”

1.7       Open House Airdate:  11/16/11

In 1994, Constance learns hers her deformed son Beau might be taken away and convinces Larry to kill him in the attic.  Violet comes to cope with Tate being a ghost and finds a collection of old pictures in the attic.  An open house leads to a potential buyer (Amir Arison) and Moira sees a chance at her body being discovered.  Ben uncovers that Larry lied to him about his family and learns that Larry’s wife killed herself and his daughters when she learned about his affair with Constance.  When Larry, Constance, and Moira learn the buyer’s true plans, they have to take matters into their own hands to protect the house.  Vivien learns the full story of Nora Montgomery and makes a startling discovery from Violet’s pictures.


“Rubber Man”

1.8       Rubber Man Airdate:  11/23/11

In 2010, Chad fears he is losing Patrick and buys a rubber suit to try to match his fetishes.  When Chad rebukes him it appears their future together is in jeopardy until the Rubber Man seals their fate.  Vivien worries she’s seeing ghosts after seeing a picture of Nora Montgomery but learns that the potential buyer has disappeared. Hayden works to convince Nora that she’s dead and reveals that they both can have one of Vivien’s children if they work to drive her crazy.  Moira confirms Vivien’s fears about the house but plays right into Hayden’s plans.  When Vivien decides to steal the gun of her realtor Marcy (Christine Estabrook), she might not shoot the victim she intends.  Violet learns keeping Tate’s secret could cost more than she expected to pay.  The reason behind the Rubber Man’s rape of Vivien is revealed.


“Spooky Little Girl”

1.9       Spooky Little Girl Airdate:  11/30/11

Elizabeth Short (Mena Suvari) goes to the house in 1947 to meet with a dentist.  When she dies on his chair, the legend of the Black Dahlia is born when the ghost of Montgomery gets his hands on her.  Hayden’s sister bring the police looking for Hayden, but Ben is saved by an unlike suspect.  Ben gets a shock from the doctors when he learns he’s only the father of one of the twins, and Hayden sets him off against Luke.  Hayden finds she can sleep with Constance’s boyfriend Travis (Michael Graziadei) but jealousy causes a messy problem in the basement.  Ben continues to turn down Moira’s advances and sees the truth of Moira and Vivien’s claims when he finds the Rubber Man suit.  Constance learns about Tate’s involvement with Vivien’s child and gets a scary prediction from her friend Billie Dean.


“Smoldering Children”

1.10     Smoldering Children Airdate:  11/07/11

It is 1994, and Tate voices his objects to his mother dating Larry by paying him a visit at the bank with a gas can.  Ben tells Vivien that he believes she was raped and that he’s trying to get her home.  Constance learns of Travis’ death and becomes a suspect to the police (Charles S. Dutton and Mayala Rivera Drew) but learns from Larry that the real killer is inside the house.  Ben calls in an exterminator to deal with his fly infestation, but Tate finds he has to deal with the exterminator when he makes a discovery.  Tate learns that Ben is plotting to send Violet to boarding school when Violet’s truancy becomes a problem, and Ben learns Tate is the Rubber Man when he overpowers Ben.  Constance learns someone has come forward in the murder but is surprised to find out who it is.  Tate makes a shocking revelation to Violet that will change everything.



1.11      Birth Airdate:  11/14/11

In 1984, Tate encounters the monstrous son of the Montgomerys and is saved by Nora.  Tate promises to get Vivien’s baby for Nora and Violet tries to find a way to tell her father that she is dead.  Violet realizes that the ghosts are a threat to her mother, father, and the baby and sets out to stop them with Tate and the help of Billie Dean. Vivien is released from the institution but goes into labor when she arrives near the house.  Violet learns the truth about her mother’s pregnancy and Tate’s actions.  The ghosts of the home work to deliver Vivien’s baby but the danger may be too great.



1.12     Afterbirth Airdate:  11/21/11

The decision to move to Los Angeles is remembered by Ben as he copes with the deaths of Vivien, Violet, and his child, and Ben finds Constance taking care of the baby.  When Ben decides to leave Hayden and the other ghosts take actions into their own hands.  With the house now empty and Constance now raising the child, a new family moves into the home.  The ghosts decide that the past cannot repeat itself and work to scare them off as they adjust to their new “lives”.  Constance finds herself a mother again but discovers that the new child might not be too different from Tate.

Related Links:

American Horror Story:  Asylum (Season 2) Review and Complete Episode Guide

American Horror Story:  Coven (Season 3) Review and Complete Episode Guide

American Horror Story:  Freak Show (Season 4) Review and Complete Episode Guide

American Horror Story:  Hotel (Season 5) Review and Complete Episode Guide

American Horror Story:  Roanoke (Season 6) Review and Complete Episode Guide

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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