Halftime Leisure

American Horror Story Goes Back to Basics

September 26, 2016

FX Network

As fans of the show know, it was clear after the last two seasons of popular anthology series “American Horror Story” that it was time for a change. After the pain and suffering I went through trying to sit through Freak Show and Hotel, I was — and still am — reluctant to buy into season 6. The show creators definitely attempted to break out of this slump — they revolutionized their marketing strategy by keeping this season’s “theme” a secret, opting instead to release a series of ambiguous frightening images and implemented a faux-documentary style that greatly differs from their typical narrative structure.

This change in composition has added another dimension to the story, giving us opportunities to get into the characters’ heads a bit more as well as adding a unique feel to the show.  From what we have seen so far, there appear to be a lot similarities to Murder House. A smart move on creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk’s part, since that season remains a fan favorite. Season 6 is based on a couple that gets duped by a realtor into purchasing a house that is not only located where the Roanoke colony disappeared in the late 16th century, but was also the site chosen by a sister serial killer duo to murder the elderly in cold blood. So far, fans have not been disappointed in terms of gore from a rainstorm of human teeth to a sacrificial ritual in the woods.  

Seeing show regulars like Angela Bassett, Sarah Paulson and Lily Rabe, take on the challenge of playing characters more grounded in reality is an interesting principle as well.  The show before now has always utilized the actors’ talents to put on strange, larger than life and downright unusual performances — seeing them take on the entirely different challenge of bringing elements of realism to the show proves just how diverse and versatile the cast can be.  Bassett plays the reenactment version of Lee, an ex-cop and sister-in-law to Paulson’s character, Shelby, who was the first to notice the paranormal activity.  The dynamic between them is intriguing — their differing world views put them very much at odds. It will be interesting to see if the two join forces or remain opposed. Rabe, the “real life” version of Shelby and her counterpart Matt — played by André Holland, a new face to the AHS cast — have excellent delivery of the narration and make us relate to their characters more. Other new faces include Cuba Gooding Jr. (reenactment Matt) and Adina Porter (Lee). Both have not disappointed and fit well with the veteran cast.

“American Horror Story” has always had one fatal flaw. The production design, acting, costumes, and season premieres always do an excellent job of drawing in the audience. However, as the season goes on, the plot quickly deteriorates and culminates in an utterly disappointing and bizarre end. One can only hope that this season will withstand the test of time instead of settling on a cop out ending or failing to even attempt to explain some of the plot lines.  Hopefully, the evidence that Murphy and Falchuk are returning to the show’s roots will hold true and prove that it’s not time to say “the end” to American Horror Story.  

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