From "Glee" to "Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story," Take a Look Back at Ryan Murphy's Prolific TV Career
Ryan Murphy is the writer, producer, and creative force behind some of television's most popular, groundbreaking, and — honestly — unsettling shows. Murphy first rose to prominence with the series "Nip/Tuck," which aired in 2003, and later gained mass acclaim for shows like "Glee," "American Horror Story," and "Pose."
In 2017, he signed the largest streaming deal ever with Netflix, estimated to be worth $300 million, per Time magazine. While not all of his shows have been hits — Shonda Rhimes, who also signed a $100 million deal with Netflix in 2018, has far outshone Murphy's Netflix contributions in terms of hours viewed, per The Ankler — many have earned rave reviews.
And no matter what, Murphy's impact on television is undeniable as he continues to create challenging and unexpected work. In 2022, he launched the documentary "The Andy Warhol Diaries" and the series "Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story," the latter starring Evan Peters. He's additionally working on season two of "Feud," this time focusing on Truman Capote and his fraught relationship with his women friends — and Molly Ringwald and Chloë Sevigny have already joined the cast.
His works have also paved the way to better representation for LGBTQ+ characters on television in particular, with shows like "Pose" making groundbreaking moves forward in terms of who actually gets their stories told on mainstream TV. In fact, "Pose"'s Michaela Jaé Rodriguez became the first transgender actor to win a Golden Globe in January for her role in the series. When Murphy first moved to Hollywood, he recalled being labeled as "somebody who couldn't sell a script and was being told that everything I did was too gay or too out-there." But he stuck to his vision. "I only wrote or created shows that I really wanted to watch, so they inevitably had gay characters and trans characters and minorities," he told The Guardian in 2019. "And I made them the leads instead of the sidekicks, because that is what I did in my own life."
Ahead, check out Murphy's most memorable shows and movies over the years.
"Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story"
"American Horror Story"
The first season of "American Horror Story" came out in 2011 and almost immediately developed a cult following thanks to the terrifying haunted house at its center — and the spirit haunting it, played by Peters (a clear Murphy fave). As of 2022, the anthology show has run for over a decade, bringing on new cast members like Lady Gaga and featuring icons like Kathy Bates and Jessica Lange in horrific situations that still always manage to be surprising.
"American Horror Stories"
Murphy's follow-up to "American Horror Story" debuted in 2021. The show features a new and terrifying story each episode, and over the course of its two seasons, "American Horror Stories" has shown that Murphy's love of the creepy and spooky is definitely alive and well.
"Halston" follows the titular legendary fashion designer, played by Ewan McGregor. The 2021 miniseries explores the designer's lavish lifestyle, embodying the opulence that Murphy's shows are famous for.
When it first aired in 2018, "Pose" made history with its amazing LGBTQ+ cast that centered trans people of color. Featuring icons like Rodriguez, Indya Moore, and Billy Porter, the show follows NYC's underground ball culture in the 1980s and '90s.
The show only ran for three seasons, but that was intentional. "We got to tell the exact story we wanted, as we wanted to tell it, and I'm incredibly honored and grateful," Murphy said to Deadline. "'Pose''s story may end in 1996, but its impact will go on forever."
The first season of Murphy's "Feud" focuses on the real-life rivalry between iconic actors Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, who battled ageism, sexism, and each other in Hollywood.
The second season will cover Capote's relationship with his many women socialite friends, whom he betrayed in a scandalous essay published in Esquire that revealed many of their secrets. While a release date has not been announced, the show will star Naomi Watts, Ringwald, and Demi Moore.
Murphy brought back another one of his favorite stars — Sarah Paulson — for "Ratched," which follows Mildred Ratched, the cruel nurse who is a supporting character in the novel "One Flew Over the Cuckoo Nest."
"The Politician" saw Murphy bring "Dear Evan Hansen" star Ben Platt to the small screen as Payton, a wealthy high school student determined to become president of the United States. Featuring plenty of political commentary, high school messiness, and choice musical moments, it ran for two seasons, and the fate of the third still hangs in limbo — and could be years away, Murphy told Collider back in 2020.
Murphy utilized his talents for dramatizing show business again with 2020's "Hollywood." The show follows actors and creatives pursuing fame in the Golden Age of movies — only it imagines a world without the racial and gender biases that held so many back in real life. However, it received decidedly mixed reviews, with Variety calling it a "dud."
"9-1-1: Lone Star"
Murphy built on the success of his procedural "9-1-1" with a spinoff based in Austin, TX. The show was renewed for its fourth season in 2022, per TVLine.
Murphy's first smash hit was 2003's "Nip/Tuck," which focuses on a controversial plastic-surgery office based in Miami and then Los Angeles. With its critiques of society's fixation on image and perfectionism and its over-the-top aesthetic, it showcases everything distinct about Murphy's groundbreaking style that would define his hits for years to come.