The September 14 premiere of American Horror Story was shrouded in mystery. As fans know, each of the past five seasons has had its own unique themes with completely new characters, setting, and storylines. The only bit of consistency has been some familiar faces reappearing in the casts.
However, for the newest season, creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk decided to elicit even more suspense by keeping the theme under tight wraps. Fans were not without some excitement, however, as the franchise’s marketing team put together 26 teaser trailers and periodically released them in the months leading up to the premiere.
These short clips suggested all manner of possible story lines, but only one was accurate. Fans went crazy with theories, some of my personal favorites being Apocalypse, Cult, and Boarding School.
These teasers created tons of hype, and it all came down to September 14 for the final reveal. I wrapped myself in my favorite fluffy blanket (for protection), grabbed some cereal and hunkered down for what I hoped would be the most epic season yet.
Sadly, I was a little disappointed.
The opening scenes felt more like the start to a true crime show rather than the traditional AHS episode, and as time when on, it became clear that that was how it was supposed to be. The format of this new season is a TV documentary within a TV show, called My Roanoke Nightmare, confirming some fan conspiracies about colonies and the ancient lost civilization.
Lily Rabe, a familiar face from past seasons, along with André Holland and Adina Porter, play the main characters as they are being interviewed about their “real life” experiences while Sarah Paulson, Cuba Gooding Jr., and Angela Bassett play their fictitious counterparts in the “dramatic reenactment” of the story.
This format, though confusing at first, does lend an extra dimension to the storytelling. As a viewer, you get to see the latent reactions of the characters to their past actions as you watch them in real time. The only problem is that it removes some of the suspense. Every time the main character is in danger, you know she is going to be okay because she has to survive in order to be in the interview for the show.
The reveal of the theme itself was also somewhat disappointing. In fact, I am still not entirely sure exactly what it is supposed to be. What I did notice, however, was how similar it seemed to season one of AHS, Murder House.
It starts with a young couple who suffer a miscarriage and decide to try and find a new start by packing everything and moving from Los Angeles to Roanoke, North Carolina. They buy a suspiciously cheap, giant, creepy house in the middle of nowhere, angering their strange neighbors in the process. Sound familiar to anyone?
It doesn’t take long for everything to start going wrong. Teeth falling from the sky, dead pigs on the doorstep, mysterious people in the woods… everything you might expect from the eclectic minds of Murphy and Falchuk.
However, AHS is also popular with fans because of its tendency to tie together seemingly unrelated storylines from season to season. It is one of the series’ unique qualities that keeps fans watching, hoping to eventually find some ending to that unfinished alien business from season two, Asylum, among others.
The familiar feel of season six could be due to a lack of originality or it could be that the writers have a much broader, long term plan for the season. My first thought was that some of those teaser trailers would have made better themes than what they chose, but now I am hopeful that something bigger is coming.