For fans of Ryan Murphy’s hit horror anthology show; American Horror Story, part of the fun during the downtime between seasons is speculating about which fiendish sub-genre the master of macabre will choose to tackle next. With several popular contexts explored, a stellar cast of recurring actors and a proven visual finesse bringing stylistic extravagance to these themes each new season, the pressure mounts for the show’s creators to bring something more spectacular with each new installment.
This pressure is perhaps the reason why Murphy is taking a different approach to developing a concept for American Horror Story season 6. The executive producer has just revealed that he is currently considering two different possible themes and is yet to decide which idea to move ahead with.
Previous seasons of American Horror Story have taken audiences into the dark worlds of a haunted house, a mental asylum, witches coven, freakshow and most recently a hotel inhabited by sinister, vampire-esque beings. The show’s recurring cast include Angela Bassett, Evan Peters, Sarah Paulson, Denis O’Hare, Kathy Bates, Wes Bentley and Chloe Sevigny among others. The starring role of each season – reserved for the legendary Jessica Lange in the first four seasons – has now been awarded to pop icon Lady Gaga, having made her award-winning small screen debut for season 5.
Murphy has discussed his new process for conceptualizing season 6’s theme at FX’s Paleyfest panel (as reported by TVLine):
“The interesting thing about this season is we’ve been working on two ideas at once, which we’ve never done. So I don’t want to say what it maybe is…. Both things that we’re writing right now – we haven’t declared a winner – will have a different form, so we’re excited about that. We’ll talk about it soon, but we haven’t landed on it yet.”
This “different form” could refer to multiple time periods which will apparently involve a modern setting with the use of past flashbacks (as disclosed by FX president John Landgraf in January). Murphy also hinted that both of his considered concepts revolve around a theme he has touched upon before – creepy children:
“If you look at horror tropes, the innocence of children, that sort of wide-eyed entryway into some world is always very dramatic and satisfying,”
American Horror Story has earned some negative feedback for its recent seasons, with critics fearing the device of including too many shock factor concepts per season has impacted the writers’ ability to conclude story lines in a satisfactory way. Murphy’s penchant for extravagant and undeniably effective sets and excessive desire to homage a multitude of typical horror motifs can create issues of style over substance and rushed resolutions that have left fans disappointed. Perhaps this different approach to creating substance from the writers rooms will aid a more refined concept in season 6 (as an answer to these criticisms). Then again, Murphy’s comments could be perceived as a hint that this process is a resort to combat creative issues for a series that is possibly overreaching at this stage.
Despite these concerns, fans will be pleased to hear that the cast of season 5 have all been invited to return for season 6 so any number of these talents could be bringing more eerily wonderful characters to life next fall. Lady Gaga is also officially locked in after her performance in Hotel quashed any fears that her casting was another shock factor device or ploy to draw on her existing fan base to boost ratings. It will be exciting to see how the innovative Murphy intends to utilize his chameleonic icon muse for the new installment.
American Horror Story season 6 is expected to air in the fall of 2016.