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Why Some AHS Fans Think That Murder House Is The Worst Season

It has been nearly ten years since Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk's groundbreaking anthology series, American Horror Story, first premiered and, a decade later, it shows no signs of slowing down. Despite a little COVID-19 related delay, season 10 is on its way, as is a new spinoff series entitled American Horror Stories. On top of that, the show American Horror Story has been renewed for at least three more future seasons. When the series first premiered in 2011, its gruesome violence and controversial subject matter quickly drew a lot of attention. Back then, it was simply known as American Horror Story, and it wasn't until future seasons like Asylum and Coven were released that the first season became retroactively known as Murder House. Like those later seasons, Murder House drew its inspiration from a classic trope of the horror genre — a family moves into a house that is notorious for being the scene of several horrific murders — but used a distinctly modern and maximalist approach to take the genre to new places. There's no denying that Murder House will always hold a special place in AHS history as the season that started it all. But is it actually as good as the ones that came after it?

When it comes to the debate over which AHS seasons are the best or worst, there's little consensus (although there is a front runner for scariest season). For the most part, fans have their own preferences, with each installment typically having a healthy number of boosters or detractors. That is very true of Murder House. While some fans laud the inaugural season's shocking twists, memorable characters like Constance (Jessica Lange) and Tate (Evan Peters) Langdon, and the fact that it birthed the whole franchise, others don't think it quite holds up to later installments.

Some AHS fans think Murder House is praised due to nostalgia, not quality

While fan opinion is scattered on which AHS seasons are the all-time best, it's not uncommon to see Murder House listed as among the better installments of the series. According to its detractors, though, the positive reception has more to do with its status as the first of the franchise, not the actual quality of the season itself. In a Reddit thread titled "What are your unpopular AHS opinions? I'm talking REALLY unpopular," original poster roguepeachpie got things started by sharing their own controversial thoughts on the franchise. In addition to being underwhelmed by Roanoke, they also noted, "Going back and watching Murder House, it honestly wasn't as great as I remember it being. If we're talking ghosts dying and being trapped in the same place, 1984 was definitely the better season, it had a much better pace."

Not every commenter in the thread agreed with them, but, as it turns out, that opinion was far from unpopular. User Coffeenwineplease agreed, saying "Never got the hype over Murder House." They added that the inaugural season isn't even what got them hooked on AHS, saying that "Asylum and Coven made me [fall] in love with the show." User whiteguysky had an even less charitable assessment: "I think [Murder House] is the worst season. It's like the writers didn't know how to write horror without making it super edgy. The characters personalities are super inconsistent too. Part of the reason it's beloved is out of nostalgia. It didn't get good until season two."

Elsewhere on the AHS subreddit, even more fans were discussing why they don't exactly love Murder House.

According to some, the seasons that came after Murder House improved the formula

In another thread on the AHS subreddit, user Kezo30 wanted to get to the bottom of why exactly those who love Murder House do. They revealed in their initial post that they had just gone back to rewatch the season and were underwhelmed: "I found there to be so many flaws in this season that made it less enjoyable compared to some of the others." Chief among the issues they had with Murder House were the lack of likable characters, the storylines that ended up feeling "like a cop out" and "unfulfilling," and the setting of the house itself, which they didn't think was "as appealing as other seasons." "There's just a lot of dread this season and not enough substance/action," Kezo30 said.

While some commenters joined the discussion to defend the season, others agreed.  "Imo murder house is the least intriguing and captivating season for me , it was a precocious product, A for ambition, D for execution," said n user who has since deleted their comment. Meanwhile, user gemininature called it "a good 'pilot season' to introduce the off-kilter tone and some series lore," but said that the Asylum and Coven seasons are "where AHS really became AHS." "Murder House gets over-rated in retrospect because it was comparatively simple and focused compared to some other seasons. But I found it less interesting than the later seasons," they added. 

Murder House may always have a place of distinction as the first American Horror Story installment ever, but for some fans, that's where their praise for the season ends.