Loved by fans and critics alike, Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story is a true hit. When the show premiered in 2011, it was innovative for the way it employed an anthology method of storytelling. This means that every season is closed-ended. So fans could tune in for Asylum, but decide to skip Freak Show. Of course, the seasons have made nods to one another, but not enough to require the casual viewer to watch all the seasons. This method of storytelling has been adapted by shows like American Crime Story, Fargo, Feud and others.
Though the stories change throughout each season, bringing in a new cast of characters, many of the actors stay the same. Evan Peters and Sarah Paulson are now the only two to have appeared in all seven seasons. Meanwhile Denise O’Hare, Frances Conroy, Kathy Bates, and Lily Rabe has also appeared in their fair share of seasons. Then there is, of course, the queen of the first four seasons: Jessica Lange. Fan-favorite Lange took home two Emmy Awards and one Golden Globe for her performances on the show.
Now that we’ve established the show is good, it’s time to discuss if the show crossed the line. With violence, gore, truly twisted situations, and real-life influence, American Horror Story has done some things that have rubbed viewers and critics the wrong way. Below are 15 things that American Horror Story should have probably gotten in trouble for.
15 The Rubber Man
Every season of American Horror Story has its own uniquely scary looking person, thing, or costume. In season one, it was Rubber Man. Rubber Man was someone donning a black latex body suit that even covered one’s face.
Rubber Man did some frightening things, like when he took out one of the house occupants with a fire poker. OUCH. However, the truly disturbing act done by the Rubber Man was when he was "intimate" with Vivian. Vivian believed Rubber Man was her husband, but it was really Tate, who got with Vivian in an effort to make a baby for Nora. But it gets even more messed up if you consider the fact that Tate loves Violet, Vivian’s daughter. That is some next level Mrs. Robinson stuff.
Leave it to Ryan Murphy to create a sweet, but sincerely demented relationship between Tate and Violet. With the emotional ramifications on top of the seriously scary costume, Rubber Man was one of the most messed up parts of season one.
14 Violet’s Devastating Discovery
Seeing a teenage character pass is always a sad thing, but especially if she’s been dead for quite some time. As a teenager, Violet had a lot going on in American Horror Story. After her mother’s stillbirth and her father’s affair, their family relocates. On top of her family’s issues, Violet then has to also deal with adapting to a new school. Oh, and on top of that, the guy Violet has a crush on just so happened to be a ghost who slept with her mother and shot fifteen high school students. That’s a lot to take in and Violent can't really handle it all.
In an attempt to take her own life, Violet swallows enough pills to overdose. Tate seemingly saves Violet by having her throw up the pills, only he doesn’t. That’s right, Violet only thinks Tate saved her, but in reality she’s a ghost. When she finally sees her corpse in the crawl space underneath the house, Violet is confronted with the fact that she’s a ghost that is stuck in this house. It was emotional, but at its core it was very tragic to see a teenage girl so distraught. It was maybe even too tragic for American Horror Story.
13 That Coat Hanger Scene
American Horror Story: Asylum was, at its core, all about being a prisoner. This ongoing theme of being a prisoner can be found in many different ways. The characters were prisoners of the asylum. They were also prisoners of their lies, their pasts, their circumstances, and their ambitions
One character who was a prisoner in so many ways was Lana Winters. She finds herself unjustly imprisoned at Briarcliff, where she puts her trust in Dr. Oliver Thredson, who helps her escape. While safely at Dr. Thredson’s home, she notices that all of her décor is made from highly disturbing materials. But it’s too late; Lana became Dr. Thredson’s prisoner. At this point, things got insane. Like, insane even for American Horror Story standards. He did some messed up things that one should simply never do on a first date.
While prisoner, Dr. Thredson impregnates Lana. While one could completely understand why Lana wouldn’t want to have this psychopath's baby, the scene in which Lana unsuccessful tried to get rid of the fetus is still hard to watch. Yes, you understand she's a woman with her back against the wall, but the graphic nature was horrifying. While Dr. Thredson’s Playroom was terrifying in its own way, Lana’s desperate, last ditch effort was and all too real reminder of the desperate lengths women had to go to before they could legally obtain services.
12 That Crazy Milk Scene
Season one provided some very uncomfortable seasons. One of these scene involved Dylan McDermott’s Ben crying during a very intimate moment. It was… awkward. And poor McDermott, because the awkward scenes didn’t stop with that one.
In season two, McDermott’s Johnny Morgan actually paid an escort to let him drink her breast milk. On a show in which characters are routinely murdered in gruesome ways, this scene was one of the most deranged. Of course, this plays into season two’s on-going themes of the bond between mothers and sons, though this maybe overstepped. I mean, no one needed to see such a gross and creepy scene. We all knew what was happening, Ryan Murphy. We truly wished we had never seen such a messed up scene.
11 Dr. Arthur Arden’s Experiments
Before he was Dr. Arthur Arden, he was Hans Grüper. As a prominent Nazi doctor, Grüper performed many inhumane experiments in concentration camps. After WWII, Grüper fled to America where he then changed his name to Dr. Arthur Arden, all to escape prosecution for his crimes.
Working at Briarcliff, Dr. Arden continued with his inhumane experiments, many of which were shown on American Horror Story. The worst of which was Shelley. Shelley found herself in Briarcliff being she was addicted to intercourse. She tried to seduce Dr. Arden for his help, only to then mock his deformed penis. Dr. Arden knocked her out and performed experiments on her as revenge. These experiments left her with amputated legs and boils covering her skin. While this is disturbing in and of itself, it’s also a reminder of the inhumane, torturous things people endured during the Holocaust.
10 That All-Too-Real School Scene
A lot of insanity unfolded during American Horror Story: Murder House. One of the on-going spooks was the whole you-didn’t-know-this-person-was-dead-but-they-are thing. This worked well in many instances, one of which was the "Dead Breakfast Club."
During the Halloween episode, Violet and Tate go on date, as one does when you’re in American Horror Story and it’s Halloween. At this point, they run into a group of typical high school students – jock, cheerleader, nerd, loner – all of whom are covered in blood. Violet dubs them the Dead Breakfast Club. It’s then revealed that they aren’t in Halloween costumes, but they are all dead. Whoa, Violet probably felt pretty awkward about that joke, huh?
Not only were all these high school kids dead, but they met their end by Tate's hand during his spree at Westfield High. This spree scene is shown through flashback. What was truly disturbing was the many parallels it shared with the events at Columbine High School and all the horrific school incidents that followed. While ghosts and vampires aren’t real, American Horror Story touched on some very real horror in this regard. This may have been especially difficult to watch if you lost a loved one through an event of school violence.
9 Delphine LaLaurie’s Attic
From one dark spot on humanity to another dark spot on humanity. Delphine LaLaurie was a wealthy socialite living in New Orleans during the 1830s. Not only did she own slaves, she cruelly mistreated and killed them. Delphine’s attic was like a house of horrors when it came to torture.
Not only is it a terrifying reminder of the treatment of slaves in America, but Delphine LaLaurie was a real person. That’s right, this really, really happened. In 1834, LaLaurie’s mansion caught on fire, at which point the police and firefighters found several slaves in experiencing different forms of torture in her attic. When an angry mob broke out of LaLaurie’s extra circular activities, she fled to France. There are several different stories of her death, with nothing completely confirmed.
In American Horror Story, Delphine LaLaurie is given immortality as punishment. So hey, maybe the same thing happened to real life LaLaurie...? I mean, there's no clear story about how, when, or if she passed. Whatever the case, the fact that the sadistic Delphine LaLaurie was based on a real person is shocking and scary.
8 Delphine LaLaurie’s Skincare Routine
While Delphine LaLaurie was based on a real person, this next part is not confirmed whatsoever. In Coven, Delphine not only tortures her slaves, but she also takes their organs to create her beauty lotion, which she then rubs on her skin to stay young and beautiful. Delphine even used the parts of her family in her beauty routine. I mean, did they really have to go there?
On that note, another insane thing that was included in Coven was the Minotaur. To punish her daughter for sleeping with one of the slaves, Delphine tortured said slave and made him wear a hollowed out bullhead. This was all in the 1800s. Cut to the present day in Coven and this dude is now a Minotaur. When the Minotaur attacks, Queenie thinks the best way to defend against the beast is to… seduce it? So many things were wrong with the Minotaur scene. Just so many things...
7 When Kyle’s Mother Was Harming Him
Ah, a frat party. What could go wrong? For one, Madison Montgomery was assaulted by several frat boys. Um, did no one tell those frat boys that you don't tick off a witch? At this point, Madison decided to flip the bus they were riding away on. Again, you don't tick off a witch.
One of Madison's victims included Kyle, who was caring, responsible, defended Madison's honor, and very into Zoe. To make up for take his life, Madison helped Zoe bring Kyle back from the dead. In this scene, they pieced together many different body parts like a scene from Frankenstein. Bringing this Frankenstein version of Kyle back to his mother, she touches him and notices his new body parts. It then becomes clear that Kyle’s mother had been abusing him. When things intensify, Kyle says no and eventually hit with a trophy. After seeing the frat guys assault Madison, no one then wanted to see that Kyle’s mother had abused him. Can we maybe stop with all these uncomfortable scenes?
6 How Elsa Lost Her Legs
As the manager of the freak show in season four, Elsa Mars seems glamorous. However, it turns out that she has a very dark past. While in Germany during the 1930s, Elsa worked with whips and chains in clubs. She would torture men by various horrifying methods. Her torture was so popular that people even paid to watch Elsa torture men. She was a star, but wanted even more fame.
Else was then drugged and tricked into doing a film in which her legs were removed. This film was then distributed all around Germany and Austria, making her the star she always dreams of being but also ending her career. By the way, this links up with Asylum, as Dr. Arden (then Hans Grüper) was her torturer who amputated her legs. That’s right, Dr. Arden’s torture spanned two separate seasons. He was one sick pup.
5 The Addiction Demon
You obviously knew this scene would make this list, right? In American Horror Story: Hotel, Ryan Murphy truly outdid himself. This mysterious, fleshy demon haunts Hotel Cortez. It’s said to have been created by Sally and other addicts, who used the demon to do drugs. However, the demon also has to feed on addicts in order to stay alive. And by feed on, I mean assault.
When Gabriel checks into room 64 to shoot up, the addiction demon creeps out of a corner and assaults Gabriel in a very, very, very graphic scene. While it was supposed to represent the hold addiction had over addicts, it really just came off like the most graphic, gratuitous scene in American Horror Story history. Long story short, don’t check in to room 64.
4 The Dinner Party Scene
When James March hosts a dinner party, he invites some rather notorious guests. Instead of opting for fictional guests, the dinner party includes some of the most famous killers in history.
John Wayne Gacy was in attendance and he may actually be why we’re all so afraid of clowns. Gacy actually performed as a clown, but what he’s truly known for are his violent acts. Jeffrey Dahmer was also in attendance. Dahmer was a notorious serial killer. Richard Ramirez is better known as the “Night Stalker.” Ramirez was convicted of taking the lives of 13 people. The Zodiac Killer was also in attendance. You get it. It was a who’s who of killers.
Though, what’s concerning is that some of the family members of their victims are still alive. How would you like to turn on the television and see a glamorized version of the person who took your loved one from you? While American Horror Story tends to pull from real-life situations, it may have been careless to not think of the victims and their families during this scene.
3 The Pig Boys
This isn’t the first time American Horror Story had a disturbing scene involving an animal. Let’s not forget the Minotaur, guys. Also, way back in season one, one of Ben’s patients talked about being afraid of a man with a pig head on his body. Valid fear, my friend.
American Horror Story brought back this terrifying idea – a man’s body with a pig’s head – in Roanoke. However, that wasn’t the animal scene that crossed the line during this season. Instead, it was the pig boys. Yes, the pig boys. While searching for Flora, the group stumbles upon two farm boys getting milk from something they definitely should not have been. Nope, this is way too far. Honestly, all people living in North Carolina should be highly offended by this scene.
2 That Time They Tried To Conceive The Messiah
Ah, and now we come to this season of American Horror Story, which is Cult. Once again trying to outdo itself with awkward situations, Kai decided he wanted to create a messiah. However, Kai decides he must bring the messiah into the world through his sister Winter. Yes, Winter was thinking what we were all thinking, but Kai had other plans. As per Kai's plan, Winter would be intimate with one of the followers, with Kai then being intimate with said follower. Due to this flow of energy, it would create the messiah.
Thankfully, Winter deemed it too weird because really no one wanted that baby to happen. Though, it did make the whole scene leading up to it very uncomfortable. Also, Kai is literally making up the rules for his cult as he goes, so why did he decide this would be the only way to bring the messiah into the world? Weird.
1 The Scene Right After Las Vegas
If American Horror Story: Cult feels too real, it’s because it is. This season was heavily influenced by the 2016 election, so much so that they even used real footage from the debates. On top of that, they also reference real things candidates said and certain dates. While there’s a point being made that plays into the overall theme of the season, it’s heavy-handed to say the least.
After the recent Las Vegas incident, the episode that aired that week featured a scene of similar horrors and felt all too real. While there were additional cuts to the episode, it felt far too realistic given what had just happened in Las Vegas. To Murphy’s credit, editing the episode did show that they were sensitive to victims and friends and family members of victims. Though, seeing horrific scenes that feel close to our current reality is sometimes too much for American Horror Story.
Instead of providing escapism, the show sometimes reminds us of the horrible things that have happened in our real life. But hey, maybe that's just because there's nothing scarier than the world we're all living in.