TV Snapshot: American Horror Story Season 6, Chapter 1 - Reviewed

Having not watched seasons 4 or 5 due to massive disappointment in season 3, this viewer decided to jump back on the American Horror Story bandwagon and tune in for the premier episode of season 6. 

AHS is known for having a different theme each season, but co-creator Ryan Murphy and his team kept the new theme for season 6 top secret with only vague screenshots in its trailers and an even more mysterious title depicting a question mark in front of the number 6. Rabid fans across the globe congealed in forums on the internet to discuss subtleties in grave detail about season 6 and its possible theme, making it one of the smartest marketing ploys in today’s programming. Not until episode 1 aired, would anyone know what the new installment holds for AHS fans everywhere.

Right from the start you can tell something is different. Firstly, the narrative comes at you in a never-before-used style called “docuseries” or “doc-series” where people sit in front of a camera and tell their story while a reenactment portrays every word, providing a more immediate connection to the events. Usually coinciding with these types of shows, disclaimers are shown before the segment assuring audiences these stories are based on actual events and AHS season 6 skillfully uses the “docuseries” style, which is a manipulative, but fun gimmick nonetheless. You are watching a show within a show about actual events. Adding to Six’s uniqueness, this season brings in actual history from the late 1500s. There was such a place, what we know today as Dare County, North Carolina, where an entire populated settlement of colonists disappeared leaving no clues as to how or why. This has since been dubbed the Lost Colony.

Though season 6, subtitled, “My Roanoke Nightmare” is new, the actors are recurring. AHS is at least refreshing in its efforts in this sense. Actors playing roles in previous seasons return as different characters, something rarely seen nowadays. Most notably, Sarah Paulson­--while playing a relatively small role in season 1--she is now undoubtedly the lead in each season. Along with some relative newcomers , there are veterans Evan Peters, Denis O’Hare, and Lily Rabe. Cuba Gooding Jr. makes his debut as Matt Miller’s reenactor.

As explained briefly above, you are invited to witness a reenactment of Matt (Andre Holland) and Shelby (Lily Rabe) Miller’s story about their experience. You watch as the real Miller’s flesh out their story while also watching the reenactors of Matt (Cuba Gooding Jr.) and Shelby (Sarah Paulson). Quickly, the Miller’s succumb to bone-chilling noises, sightings, and a brisk violent encounter, foreshadowing episodes to come. This brings us back to the brilliant roots of the series’ inception. Episode 1 leaves this exciting yet terrifying taste in your mouth. 

So far, the writers aren’t going for the big theatrics similar to seasons before, but are getting down to brass-tacks and are bringing back what made American Horror Story so popular to begin with. Season 1 was groundbreaking in its storytelling, acting, and its strong invitation for the audience’s participation. The season 6 debut checks all of these boxes. Ok AHS, you got me.

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