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The 25 Best TV Shows of 2012

3. American Horror Story: Asylum (FX)

Stars: Jessica Lange, James Cromwell, Zachary Quinto, Lily Rabe, Chloe Sevigny, Joseph Fiennes, Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters, Adam Levine, Jenna DewanFranka Potente, Clea DuVall, Lizzie Brochere

Last year's inaugural season of American Horror Story was so over the top in its forcible craziness that, while endlessly enjoyable, it left cynical fans wondering if co-creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk didn't just unleash a badass one-year fluke. How in the hell could they top the Murder House's large gang of horny ghosts, S&M demons, and deformed monsters?

The answer: Throw every horror trope imaginable at the screen and hope it all congeals. Fortunately, those hopes have been realized in American Horror Story: Asylum, a 1960s-set freak show filled with aliens, mad Nazi doctors, devil-possessed nuns, monstrous patients running around with syphilis and countless other diseases, and a serial killer named Bloody Face. And, to think, the season isn't even over yet.

On a weekly basis, it's an absurdist blast, never succumbing to pretentiousness and consistently finding new ways to shock, awe, and delight folks who'll gladly bodily dismemberment in prime time.

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