Prashant Gupta/FX

Everyone dies. Not everyone truly lives.

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TV Show
January 14, 2016 at 06:38 AM EST

Iris and Liz Taylor have big dreams for the Hotel Cortez. They want respect, critical adoration. They want Five Stars. They invite some reviewers from that Internet Site, They like what they see. A mini-bar! A Japanese self-cleaning wonder toilet! The ghost of a grunge-era heroin addict shooting up on their bed!

Soon, they’re dead. Murderous phantoms are a problem for a hotel looking to revamp its image. The owners call a meeting of the ghouls. Everyone’s in a remarkably good mood — besides Sally and Will Drake. Sally is sad and lonely; Will is frustrated, with himself as much as anyone else. But James Patrick March declares a new mission for the Cortez. On Aug. 23, 2026, the hotel will be a hundred years old. They can declare it an historic landmark. So everyone just needs to behave for the next decade or so.

That means the gang needs to get together to solve all Sally and Will’s personal problems. Sally’s an easy fix: Iris plugs in the Wi-Fi and sets her loose in the brave new world of social media. (Solving a haunting with Twitter is by far one of the funniest and most believable things American Horror Story has ever come up with.) Will Drake is the harder nut to crack. Even death hasn’t solved his biggest problem: How to find the creative spark? Liz Taylor gives him an idea: What if he became the Howard Hughes of fashion? Nobody knows he’s dead; with Liz as his representative to the outside world, he can become the world’s second undead fashion designer! (The first was Karl Lagerfeld, who arguably produced his finest work only after dying in the French Revolution.)

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The Cortez is rebranded. Will hosts fashion shows inside with the ghosts as his models. No cameras are allowed; the mystique of Will Drake’s clothes grow. Still, Liz Taylor is unhappy, yearning for Tristan, who refuses to appear despite dying inside the Cortez. Iris brings Liz a surprise guest: Billie Dean Howard, the initial variation of Sarah Paulson, who in the years since Murder House has gotten her own show on Lifetime. Billie makes contact with Tristan — but Tristan won’t talk to Liz Taylor. (She does contact Donovan, who’s in a heaven that smells like pancakes. Pause to imagine Matt Bomer dancing to “Hotline Bling” eternally in a land of pancakes.)

Still, Liz finds a way to live. She reconnects with her son, Douglas; meets his beautiful bride, Janice; becomes proud grandma to little Isabel. In the fullness of time and apropos nothing, Liz gets ill: “The first woman in the world to have prostate cancer.” She asks the ghosts to kill her, and they agree to send her into the netherworld of the Cortez. Surprise, surprise: The Countess appears, ready to help him with one last transition. In death, Tristan awaits. A happy ending, for everyone lucky enough to die.

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An anthology series that centers on different characters and locations, including a haunted house, an insane asylum, a witch coven, a freak show and a hotel.
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