In honor of the impending 100th episode of American Horror Story airing this week on FX, series co-creator Ryan Murphy gave a list of his all-time favorite episodes of the anthology horror series, currently in its ninth season. Murphy’s picks, doled out in an exclusive interview with Entertainment Weekly, contain a ton of spoilers in case you haven’t caught up on every season or are just now jumping in to see what all the hype is about.
Unsurprisingly, Murphy claims his number one fave is “Pilot”, the very first episode of the very first season of AHS. Later subtitled Murder House, the show’s inaugural season focused on the Harmon family as they moved into a new house literally crawling with angry ghosts. Murphy calls the first episode “number one in my heart,” and reveals that it took nearly four years just to get it made. He explains that his idea to do AHS as an anthology series was a huge risk both creatively and financially, but that FX was ultimately game to give it a shot.
“Also, there was the cast,” Murphy says, further elaborating on his fondness for the series’ pilot episode. Jessica Lange “was an idol growing up, and on our first day I am sure she thought I was from outer space.” Lange’s first season role on AHS began a long ongoing collaboration between her and Murphy – the Oscar-winning actress has starred in five total seasons of AHS, as well as the Murphy-created miniseries Feud, in which she played Joan Crawford.
Another of Murphy’s favorite episodes is the eighth episode of Season 2, Asylum, called “The Name Game”. Murphy points out that this season tends to be the fan favorite, as well as the favorite of series regulars Lange and Sarah Paulson. Also on the list is “Checking In”, the first episode of Hotel and the first time Murphy worked with Lady Gaga. “She is a born actress,” he says of the recent Best Actress nominee.
Murphy’s other picks include Apocalypse Episode 6, titled “Return to Murder House” (“I love love love this episode”); Freak Show Episode 1, “Monsters Among Us” (“From the moment I saw Zodiac, I wanted to work with [John Carroll Lynch] and he said yes”); Cult Episode 11, “Great Again” (“Largely this episode is my favorite because the pairing of Paulson vs Evan Peters was my favorite antagonist/protagonist thing we have ever done”); Coven Episode 12, “The Magical Delights Of Stevie Nicks” (“Stevie was a true collaborator, and when she showed up to film this episode we were all in shock that it actually happened”); 1984 Episode 5, “Red Dawn” (It is the youngest cast we’ve ever had, and a real homage to when [AHS co-creator] Brad [Falchuck] and I were growing up in the ’80s”); and Roanoke Episode 6, “Chapter Six” (“This was the season that made me think ‘Ok, this show can go for 20 years.’ Because we can keep playing with the format, the form”).
And does Murphy have a favorite season of AHS? “Today as I think about, it’s Cult, but my favorite changes every year.” Maybe we can ask him again this time next year.
Read his ranked list below, and click here to check out our ranking of each season of AHS so far.
Ryan Murphy’s Favorite American Horror Story Episodes:
- Murder House, “Pilot”
- Asylum, “The Name Game”
- Hotel, “Checking In”
- Apocalypse, “Return to Murder House”
- Freak Show, “Monsters Among Us”
- Cult, “Great Again”
- Coven, “The Magical Delights of Stevie Nicks”
- 1984, “Red Dawn”
- Roanoke, “Chapter Six”