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American Horror Story’s Worst Season Fit Another Ryan Murphy Show Better

American Horror Story: 1984 was too campy and self-parodying, but this tone would have been ideal in a completely different Ryan Murphy TV show.

While American Horror Story: 1984 did not work as a season of AHS, the tone and story would have been perfectly suited to another Ryan Murphy series. While most of Ryan Murphy’s projects have a lot in common in terms of themes, the super-producer’s output is not remotely consistent in terms of tone. Some of Murphy’s projects, like the grisly horror anthology series American Horror Story, can be extremely dark and brutal, while other shows from the creator, such as Glee and The Politician, boast a much lighter tone.

Despite a lot of motifs recurring throughout Murphy’s oeuvre – and frequent collaborators cropping up in various shows from the producer – this tonal disparity makes it tough to pin down the creator’s style. While American Horror Story’s early seasons are undeniably campy and over-the-top, they lack the explicitly satirical elements seen in the American Horror Story cult season and beyond. Similarly, while early seasons of Glee were broadly comedic, the hit series occasionally delved into seriously dark storylines, often without much warning. This tonal inconsistency has sometimes led to Murphy’s shows failing to find an audience.

AHS: 1984 Would Have Worked As Scream Queens Season 3
When Scream Queens debuted in 2015, the critical consensus was mixed. Scream Queens earned a loyal fan base but never shook the perception that the show was too dark and violent for mainstream viewers, but too light and silly to work as a horror series. Unfortunately, this meant that Scream Queens was canceled in 2017 after its second season. This was a shame, since American Horror Story: 1984 and its serial killer storyline, alongside its jaw-dropping tastelessness, would have worked far better as a season of Scream Queens than as an installment of the darker, slightly more grounded AHS franchise.

Admittedly, American Horror Story is often absurd. However, American Horror Story’s characters are not in on the joke, whereas the cast of Scream Queens played up the show’s comedic elements. American Horror Story: 1984 was a campy, gory, over-the-top, tasteless exaggeration of slasher movie clichés, which is exactly what Scream Queens season 3 would have been. American Horror Story: 1984’s goofy plot line of a summer camp haunted by a serial killer quickly became a ludicrous pile-up of intersecting villains both demonic and human. This was convoluted and messy, but in the context of an intentionally comedic series like Scream Queens, could have been hilarious.

Scream Queens Could Have Made AHS: 1984’s Tacky Moments Work
From American Horror Story: 1984 romanticizing Richard Ramirez to the wild sight of Gabriel getting cooked alive inside a giant oven, this season was better suited to the world of Scream Queens than the darker AHS franchise. Most of American Horror Story: 1984 was closely aligned to the absurd tone of Scream Queens than earlier seasons of the long-running horror anthology series, which typically had at least one character viewers were supposed to root for among the gore and chaos. In this regard, American Horror Story: 1984 had only Emma Roberts’ Brooke Thompson – a one-dimensional final girl who could, and should, have been replaced by Scream Queens antihero Chanel Oberlin.


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