A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
The morals of AHS seem to center around the idea that many people truly enjoy hurting others. Instead of offering a thoughtful reflection on why that could be, however, some stories are told from the perspective of the attacker and seem to glorify these ideals in disturbing ways.
Positive Role Models
While some characters are two-dimensional and without much personality, many others exhibit behaviors that are objectively harmful and inappropriate for anyone under the age of 18 to view.
Violence & Scariness
Blood and gore are common, as well as graphic murder scenes perpetrated by many characters. In addition, some murders are portrayed as revenge without the presence of reasonable consequences.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
AHS not only links sex and violence often, but it also focuses heavily on teen sexuality in an exploitative way that fetishizes actors who are portraying these young teenagers. While the violence in AHS is cause for concern, the sexual content is sometimes even more disconcerting.
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Characters do swear a fair amount, including "s--t" and "f--k".
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
In one episode, two adult characters joke about using prescription drugs in addition to drinking. We do not see them consume drugs onscreen.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that American Horror Stories is a horror-comedy show spearheaded by the same creative team behind the 2011 release American Horror Story; most elements in American Horror Stories are remarkably similar to the original. This title continues to capitalize on creator Ryan Murphy's trademark attempt at balancing comedy and drama to create a uniquely cringe-worthy tone. Also true to the original is the emphasis on sex and violence. American Horror Stories contains graphic sequences of gore and use of weapons, as well as content linking teen sexuality and violence in disturbing ways.
Is It Any Good?
Ryan Murphy shows, such as Glee or the original American Horror Story, were part of the origin of viewers choosing to "hate-watch" TV shows (that is, watching for the pleasure of criticizing or mocking it). Over the years it has seemed that Murphy has decided to lean into that wholeheartedly. But American Horror Stories suggests that there are diminishing returns for capitalizing on being disliked. While the original show may have gotten away with many unsettling storylines by increasing the shock value and comedic absurdity factors at matching rates, viewers were impressed by AHS's uniqueness as one of the first major TV series to embrace their ironic fanbase completely. Without that groundbreaking element, this spin-off just isn't funny enough or scary enough to land as strongly as the first installment did back in 2011.
However, while viewers who disliked the first series will probably be just as put off by this one, some hardcore AHS fans are still along for the ride. For those who happen to be entertained by this hyperspecific brand of narrative insanity, more of the same is great news. But with the 10th season of the original American Horror Story on the way in addition to this spin-off, questions remain: How much longer will viewers be compelled by these flimsy plotlines and nonsensical gags? And moreover, at what point do violence-heavy narratives that demonize the sexuality of young people become harmful?
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.