[SPOILERS for the American Horror Story season 6 premiere ahead.]
FX’s approach to marketing American Horror Story season 6 was nothing if not unorthodox. The network built up the hype for the previous seasons of Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk’s TV series by releasing highly-stylized and often enigmatic promos, each of them being based around the central theme for that season (Asylum, Coven, Freak Show and so forth). Commercials for season 6 were no less stylish or mysterious in nature, but nearly every one varied in their theme – with FX’s CEO flat-out admitting that only one of the promos was actually relevant to this new season, in terms of the particular horror sub-genre that will be explored.
The American Horror Story season 6 premiere episode has now aired, revealing the title/theme for this season to be American Horror Story: My Roanoke Nightmare. FX has now released a proper trailer for the season too (which you can watch above), teasing more of what lies ahead in the self-proclaimed “true American Horror Story” that Murphy and Falchuk are telling, this time around.
My Roanoke Nightmare is a pseudo-documentary featuring interviews with “real-life” married couple Shelby (American Horror Story core cast member Lily Rabe) and Matt (The Knick‘s André Holland), talking about their experiences after purchasing an old house located in what – as the season’s subtitle implies – appears to lie on or around Roanoke Island, in North Carolina’s Outer Banks. American Horror Story staple Sarah Paulson and Oscar-winner Cuba Gooding Jr. are playing Shelby and Matt, respectively, during the “dramatic re-enactment” sequences this season. Fellow AHS recurring player Angela Bassett is playing Matt’s sister Lee, a former police officer, in the “re-enactment” scenes (with True Blood‘s Adina Porter playing the “real-life” Lee).
Both the premiere episode for My Roanoke Nightmare and the above trailer also feature appearances by longtime American Horror Story cast members Denis O’Hare and Kathy Bates – as, respectively, what appears to be the former owner of Shelby and Matt’s new house (seen only by way of recorded footage) and one of the specters who haunts their home. The credits for the American Horror Story season 6 premiere also confirmed that more stars from seasons past, including Wes Bentley, will be appearing as part of the My Roanoke Nightmare storyline too; though as who or what, that remains to be seen.
Similar to American Horror Story seasons past, My Roanoke Nightmare is intent on addressing more than just a few hot-topic sociopolitical issues – with gang violence, class differences, and racism within the police department all being either tackled or briefly touched upon in the first episode alone (suggesting that Gooding isn’t the only element being carried over into this season from the Murphy-produced hit, American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson). The My Roanoke Nightmare premiere also continued on the American Horror Story tradition of being a pastiche of elements from famous horror films and TV shows past, by including clear nods to The Amityville Horror, The Shining, and The Blair Witch Project, among other landmark titles.
So far, American Horror Story season 6 is shaping up to not only be an intriguing one, but a more compelling storyline that those from the last two seasons in particular, Freak Show and Hotel (seasons that were criticized for prioritizing production design and style over thematic substance). My Roanoke Nightmare isn’t done tackling big issues yet either, with the season’s trailer revealing that Lee’s custody issues involving her daughter will come into play soon too. One just hopes this season will continue to develop its premise into something thematically rich – and make My Roanoke Nightmare more than just “American Horror Story: The Fake Documentary One“.
American Horror Story: My Roanoke Nightmare continues next Wednesday, September 21st on FX.