Ben Harmon in FX’s American Horror Story

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Ben Harmon as a Symbol

Ben Harmon in American Horror Story is a symbol for acceptance. Throughout the season, Ben has a hard time accepting anything that goes on in his life. Despite being a psychiatrist, Ben has a difficulty accepting things in his life. Throughout American Horror Story, Ben is constantly denying what is going on in his life and trying his best to fix everything, even if it looks bleak. At the start of American Horror Story Ben Harmon cheats on his wife, Vivien with Hayden, one of his students. When his wife is distant after a miscarriage she has, Ben is unable to accept that his wife needs space and ends up being seduced by Hayden, although he tries to resist her advances for a while. Because Ben doesn’t want to admit that he may have completed ruined his marriage, he and his wife decide that they should try to relocate to a new home to “start over.”

Starting with the first episode of American Horror Story, Ben refuses to accept that his marriage is in trouble. Since he moved, he assumed everything would be better and tries to get intimate with Vivien. His wife refuses his advances at first, but they eventually have make-up sex, and this makes Ben think everything is fine. Hayden calls Ben though and informs him that she’s pregnant due to their affair. He convinces her to have an abortion so that he can continue to keep things well with Vivien, refusing to accept the fact that Hayden was impregnated by him by simply getting rid of their unborn child. However, Hayden informs Ben that she didn’t get the abortion after all and then demands Ben support their child or she’ll tell Vivien. Ben seems like he is about to convince Hayden not to go through with her threat before Larry Harvey comes by and kills Hayden to extort Ben.


After this point in American Horror Story, Ben Harmon is harassed by Larry Harvey. Unable to accept that Hayden was murdered and not wishing to get the police involved and complicate things further, especially with his wife, he buries Hayden in the ground and builds a gazebo over her body. Larry then continually demands one thousand dollars from Ben to keep his mouth shut about what happened. Ben wants to get the police involved, but doing so would mean he would have to reveal Hayden’s pregnancy.  This leads to Ben viciously beating up Larry until he gives up on his extortion, rather than admit and accept what happened.

Throughout this, Ben is forced to deal with Vivien’s suspicion about him talking to Hayden still. He lies to her about it all until Hayden terrorizes Vivien enough as a ghost and threatens to kill her unless Ben admits to everything. Ben admits that Hayden was pregnant with his child and that he was still having an affair with her, showing that it takes something as extreme as Vivien almost being murdered for him to accept anything.

Later on in American Horror Story, Ben can’t accept that he ruined his marriage with his adulterous ways and is kicked out of his house by Vivien. We eventually learn that Ben is not the father of Vivien’s twin children she is carrying, and that Vivien is becoming increasingly more erratic and panicked. Ben has Vivien placed into a psych ward after she attacks Ben by accident. Ben thinks Vivien cheated on him with their home security guard, but he is unable to have children. He tells Vivien how disgusted he is by her, unable to accept that Vivien had seemingly cheated on him, blaming that for the rift in their marriage.

During the last episode of American Horror Story, Ben Harmon contemplates suicide because he can’t accept that his wife died during childbirth and that his daughter had been dead for months. Vivien convinces Ben that he needs to get out of the house and raise the one child that survived, even though he knows it isn’t his, and Ben finally accepts this and tries to leave the house before being killed by some of the ghosts. However, Ben is able to find acceptance that he screwed up and reconciles with Vivien in the afterlife. He and his family accept how they’ve hurt each other, and they no longer take each other for granted in the afterlife. In the end of American Horror Story, Ben can only start to accept everything that has happened after countless tragedies and his own death.