Where would American Horror Story be without Jessica Lange? The iconic, two-time Oscar-winning actress has made her mark in Hollywood and pop culture history in her own right. Still, there’s no denying that Ryan Murphy‘s iconic horror series helped propel her stardom further. Jessica has had a starring role in four of the ten (ongoing) seasons and played alongside acting heavyweights such as Sarah Paulson, Kathy Bates, and Evan Petershelping create television gold and some of the most loved characters in the entire series.
Jessica has played some of the most memorable characters from Murder House, Asylum, Coven, and Freak Show and has been the star of some of the show’s recognizable moments. But who of all of her roles has been the best? From Constance Langdon to Elsa Mars, Jessica Lange’s characters in American Horror Story are ranked below.
4) Elsa Mars
The most colorful and arguably the most stylish out of all four of Jessica Lange‘s characters, German-born circus owner Elsa Mars was introduced in the fourth season of American Horror Storyappropriately named Freak Show. Draped in feathers and dressed like the glamorous starlets of her time, Elsa is portrayed as a headstrong and dangerous woman with a destructive desire for stardom and a haunting backstory, not unlike her American Horror Story predecessors, but shows a softer side when she is around her “freaks” that work at her struggling Freak Show.
Lange also shows off her singing chops even through a thick German accent, and her song covers of David Bowie and Lana Del Rey are some of the season’s best moments. Ryan Murphy, the show’s creator, is no stranger to singing through his work on Glee, but instead of chipperness, he adds a spooky and atmospheric element to the show’s musical interludes. A true testament to Lange’s talent, Elsa Mars is a fantastic character that demands the spotlight in every scene she is in and is one of the series’ most memorable characters.
3) Constance Langdon
The first-ever badass bitch of American Horror Story and the first one to kickstart Jessica Lange’s legendary return to the spotlight and re-introduce her to a whole new generation of fans, Constance Langdon was featured in the show’s first season, Murder House, and was even brought back in later seasons in cameo appearances due to her popularity. Constance is a quintessential Southern Belle character, portraying herself to the outside world as a God-fearing, polite, and social-climbing woman, but she has a sordid and disturbing past and unabashedly flaunts her homophobic, racist, and ableist views to anyone who crosses her path.
Despite her more unpleasant attributes, Constance is probably the most likable mother to the Anti-Christ since Rosemary in Rosemary’s Baby and even finds enough time in her busy and tragic life of murder and hiding dead bodies to polish her garden to perfection – what a hardworking woman! Constance is hilarious and compelling, with Lange acting this larger-than-life character with all the expertise expected in her work.
2) Sister Jude
The series’ second season, Asylum, features the Catholic-run Briarcliff Manor and its stern, head-nun Sister Jude, who delivers some of the most sadistic and cruel forms of punishment and discipline to the asylum’s suffering patients. Sister Jude’s harsh demeanor and negative view of mental illness are slowly revealed to be a coping mechanism for her troubled past, which becomes unraveled throughout the season’s run and forces her to undergo an intense fall from grace and a subsequent spiritual transformation.
The second season is a fan favorite and always finds its way onto every American Horror Story, ranking pretty high on the list, and Sister Jude is one of the main reasons why Asylum is so beloved. Lange puts her heart and soul into Sister Jude, delivering some of the best lines of the series, and her rendition of ‘The Name Game’ is one of, if not the most iconic scene of the entire show. Both sympathetic and despicable, Sister Jude is a delight to watch and one of the main reasons. Asylum succeeds so well.
1) Fiona Goode
The Supreme herself, Fiona Goode, is American Horror Story ‘s greatest witch and the highlight of the series’ third season, Coven, and the best character that has ever been in the show. Jessica Lange’s acting in Coven is a masterclass of skill and talent, helping to bring life into the soul of a powerful witch clawing to stay at the top of the occult food chain. Fiona’s character arc focuses on her return to Miss Robichaux’s Academy, a school dedicated to the art of witchcraft in New Orleans, and the reconciliation between herself and her estranged daughter, played by Sarah Paulson. Fiona is so loved because of her witty dialogue and her cutthroat attitude, and her immense power that she is quick to use to put any underling in their place.
From telekinetically blasting someone against a wall with a flick of her wrist to draining the literal life force out of someone with a kiss, Fiona Goode proves that she is not the witch to mess with. The black-adorned Supreme always ensures that anyone who betrays her or comes between her plans is dealt with swiftly and through brutal means, delivering some of the most horrifying methods of death and mutilation in the entire series. There’s a reason why Jessica Lange’s work in American Horror Story is regarded so well, and Fiona Goode is a significant part of her television success.
KEEP READING: Every ‘American Horror Story’ Season Ranked From Worst to Best