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Ryan Murphy: A Show Running Genius


With “American Horror Story: Delicate” being released this month and its subsequent positive to mixed reviews, many have raised the question of Ryan Murphy’s show-running abilities. Looking at Murphy’s credits, it’s clear that he has a slew of successful shows that have revolutionized television. By leaving no topic untouched, Murphy succeeds where many showrunners falter, resulting in successful show after successful show.

His longest running credit, the “American Horror Story” franchise, normalized changing casts and stories from season to season, something that previously hadn’t been done in mainstream television. “American Horror Story” changes its cast and premise each season. This gives audiences something fresh and new each season without dragging on the same storyline. Some of the show’s most popular seasons include “Freak Show”, “Murder House”, and “Asylum”. Incredibly well-shot, well-written, and an all-around cinematic masterpiece, “American Horror Story” has also won over 100 awards out of 359 nominations, proving the show’s critical success.

The most recent season, “Delicate,” has been drawing lots of buzz over the casting choices for the new ensemble. While Murphy frequently casts Emma Roberts in his lead roles, this time he cast reality star and entrepreneur, Kim Kardashian, alongside her. A shocking choice for the series, many fans speculated that Kardashian’s acting would be the real horror in this season. But to audiences’ surprise, her performance hasn’t necessarily been horrible. While she’s not in talks for any Emmys by any means, she does push the story and other characters forward.

Fans shared what they think is the reason some have been turned off by the series: “I honestly feel the reason most people hate this season of #AHS is because they don’t like Kim. We are in the age of fame, social media, and women wanting to have it all, and in wanting it all you might come across issues…” (@PHUMMY_Y). But, with the mid-season finale airing this week fans are eager to see how the season wraps up.

Moving away from horror and more towards crime, Ryan Murphy has released 3 seasons of “American Crime Story”. This anthology series contains three seasons so far, following three of the most influential crime stories in pop culture. The first season follows O.J. Simpson’s murder trial in “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story”, specifically covering the prosecution and the defense of the former NFL superstar. But the series also sheds light on the Los Angeles Police Department’s history of violence and bias against the African-American community. Season two, named “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story,” follows the events before, during, and after the 1997 assassination of fashion designer Gianni Versace. However, the series takes the perspective of Versace’s murderer, Andrew Cunanan. Season three named “Impeachment: American Crime Story” follows the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal, and shows Monica Lewinsky’s side along with her friendship with Linda Tripp. The series does a great job showing the perspectives of other women who had affairs with Clinton as well.

Murphy made headlines again with his 2022 Netflix series, “Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story”. This series is very similar to the “American Crime Story” format but isn’t connected due to the fact that “American Crime Story” is distributed through FX. “Dahmer” was a smash hit in 2022 due to its eerie nature and the in-depth look inside the mind of American serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer. The series follows the life of Dahmer, and how he became one of the most notorious killers in America. It showcases all of Dahmer’s murders and highlights the police’s incompetence and bias towards caucasian men, enabling his crimes.

The series has also been criticized by the LGBTQ+ community, arguing that it highlights themes in a distasteful light by perpetuating harmful stereotypes and grouping serial killers into that category. For fans of the “Monster” series, ”Monsters: The Lyle and Erik Menéndez Story” will be released on Netflix in 2024, following the Menéndez murders.

A hidden gem from Murphy is Fox’s “Scream Queens”. Only running for 2 seasons, the slasher-inspired series follows the Kappa Kappa Tau sorority.  20 years after the death of a sorority sister, a mysterious serial killer reemerges and targets the sorority members. This star-studded whodunnit series is extremely funny and keeps audiences on their toes for its entire run.

One of the most well-known series that Ryan Murphy produced is “Glee”. “Glee” is a musical dramedy that follows a high school glee club as they fight to win Nationals. The show includes every genre of music imaginable and has an extremely talented cast. Murphy excels at channeling the highs and extreme lows that high school students experience.

These are only a handful of Ryan Murphy’s many successes. It seems as if anything Murphy touches turns to gold, and there’s no sign of it stopping. Fans can look forward to a Netflix rendition of “A Chorus Line ”, “American Love Story” which follows pop culture’s favorite flings, and “American Sports Story” following Aaron Hernandez who was convicted of murder in 2013. The release dates of these series are still to be determined but have been confirmed to be released on Netflix. But, if there is one thing fans do know, it is that Ryan Murphy will deliver. Murphy stays at the top by highlighting real stories and shedding light on topics that many showrunners fear and shy away from. 

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About the Contributor
Elizabeth Ippolito
Elizabeth Ippolito, Executive Producer: #THAT, Television Beat Reporter
Liz Ippolito is a Grad student studying Cinematic Production Management and recently graduated with her bachelors in TV, Film, and Media Arts with a Minor in Media Studies. She is from Oradell New Jersey and is returning for her second year as the Executive Producer on #THAT. Ippolito also serves as the Television beat reporter for the station.

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