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American Horror Story is a horror television series created and produced by Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk. Described as an anthology series, each season is conceived as a self-contained miniseries, following a disparate set of characters and settings, and a storyline with its own "beginning, middle, and end".
The first season, subsequently re-titled American Horror Story: Murder House, takes place in 2011 and follows the story of a family that moves into a home haunted by its former occupants. The second season, titled American Horror Story: Asylum, takes place in 1964 and follows the stories of the inhabitants of an institution for the criminally insane. The third season, titled American Horror Story: Coven, takes place in the 1800s and present day and follows the battle between witches and voodoo practitioners.
The series is broadcast on the cable television channel FX in the United States. On November 2013, FX renewed American Horror Story for a fourth season of 13 episodes to air in 2014.
American Horror Story has been well received by television critics. The repertory cast have been critically acclaimed, particularly Jessica Lange, who received the Emmy Award, the Golden Globe Award, and the Screen Actors Guild Award for her performance. The series draws consistently high ratings for the FX network, with its first season being the biggest new cable series of 2011.
Creators Murphy and Falchuk began working on American Horror Story before their Fox series Glee began production. Murphy wanted to do the opposite of what he had done previously and thus began his work on the series. He stated, "I went from Nip/Tuck to Glee, so it made sense that I wanted to do something challenging and dark. And I always had loved, as Brad had, the horror genre. So it just was a natural for me." Falchuk was intrigued by the idea of putting a different angle on the horror genre, stating that their main goal in creating the series was to scare viewers. "You want people to be a little bit off balance afterwards", he said.
The pilot episode was shot on location in a house in Country Club Park, Los Angeles, California, which serves as the haunted house and crime scene in the series. Designed and built in 1910 by Alfred Rosenheim, the president of the American Institute of Architects' Los Angeles chapter, the Tudor or Collegiate Gothic-style single family home was previously used as a convent. The first season is filmed on what appear to be sets that are an exact replica of the house. Details such as Louis Comfort Tiffany stained glass windows, and hammered bronze light fixtures, were re-created to preserve the look of the house.
As part of the promotion for the series, FX launched a "House Call" campaign, in which viewers at home could sign up and come face-to-face with a character from the series. Prior to the series premiere, FX released several clues to shine light on the series. They were offered on the show's official YouTube channel. Ten clues were released. In September 2011, FX launched a website which allows visitors to tour the murder house throughout the decades and look for clues.
In August 2012, the first promo for the second season was released on the American Horror Story Facebook page entitled "Special Delivery", in which a nun carries a couple of buckets filled with body parts through a field. As a church bell rings, the nun empties one bucket's bloody contents, leaving the empty bucket behind, and resumes her trek.
The pilot episode gained a 1.6 ratings share among adults aged 18–49 and garnered 3.2 million viewers. These were the best numbers FX had ever received for a series premiere. The episode was seen by 3.2 million viewers total in 59 countries. Ratings increased as the season progressed, with the season finale being watched by 3.22 million viewers and receiving a 1.7 ratings share in the 18–49 demographic. American Horror Story's November 2011 Fox International Channels' premiere across Europe and Latin America drew rankings of first or second among all Pay-TV in most metered markets for its time slot.
American Horror Story has won 19 of its 91 award nominations. The franchise has garnered ten Primetime Emmy Award nominations, with Jessica Lange winning as Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie and James Cromwell winning as Outstanding Supporting Actor. It received an additional 24 Creative Arts Emmy Award nominations, winning for Outstanding Hairstyling for a Miniseries or a Movie and Outstanding Sound Editing for a Miniseries, Movie, or Special. It has received five Golden Globe Award nominations, with Lange winning as Best Supporting Actress in a Series, Miniseries or Television Film, and two Screen Actors Guild Award nominations, with Lange winning for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series.
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