FX's American Horror Story has been rather cheeky in the run up to season 6. So far the series has unleashed a truckload of new promos hinting at everything from a story set in the Roanoke settlement to winks at campy monster movies from the 1960s. The promotional onslaught seems intended to renew interest in the series as it enters the second leg of its post-Jessica Lange period, insomuch as potential viewers may find themselves curious as to just what kind of season the show is selling. Even co-creator Ryan Murphy has gotten in on the antics, as he explained just one of the many promos released recently actually has anything to do with the upcoming storyline.
As of now, it's anyone's guess what's going on with AHS season 6, which is apparently just how FX, Murphy, and fellow producer Brad Falchuk want things. Each would-be promo has at least on thing in common: a question mark intended to look something like an inverted 6. So far that has been the mysterious substitute for the usual subtitle, giving viewers some idea of what new storyline the show will dive into next. Perhaps the secrecy is a sign that the series is moving beyond a single setting, so following in the vein of Asylum, Coven, Tea Party (that was one, right?), and last year's Hotel may no longer be in the cards for the show. This could be in keeping with some of the rumors that have been floating around that Murphy and Falchuk have split the writers' room and plan to release the series twice a year, though that's still unconfirmed.
In keeping with the "unconfirmed" bit, FX recently released a new poster through EW, which depicts a horned creature – or dark-eyed goat man, of sorts – who was clearly chosen because his horns, while stylish, also happen to form a question mark if he tilts his head in just the right position. As the advertisements for the series up to this point have been vague, it's nearly impossible to tell whether or not this creature will be an actual character in the upcoming season or if the design was simply too good to pass up and his profile wound up slapped on a poster.
The same goes for the new "bite sized" promo (above) that depicts a rather large, guaranteed-to-elicit-a-scream spider crawling out of a woman's mouth while someone hums cheerily over the 10-second clip. Again, does American Horror Story season 6 have plans for horned creatures to hum while arachnids crawl out of people's mouths? So far, the promos suggest… maybe?
If anything, the marketing this season seems to be more in keeping with the series itself. Whereas previous entries have developed a specific theme and promoted the series by sticking to the scary things that come to mind within the confines of, say, a freak show or a hotel, season 6 advertisements have been far more elusive and erratic. This throw-everything-at-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks method of selling the secretive season is definitely more akin to the digressive or sometimes-fitful storytelling the series has employed since season 1.
Nevertheless, in keeping its story and setting secret, and by playing coy with potential viewers, American Horror Story may have stumbled upon a marketing equivalent of a B12 shot to reinvigorate casual interest in the aging series. With Lange no longer around to sell the series for many viewers, selling them on a mystery may just be the easiest way to turn eyeballs toward the show when it premieres much earlier than usual next month.
American Horror Story season 6 premieres Wednesday, September 14 @ 10pm on FX.