What is it that makes American Horror Story such an addictive show to watch? From the time it arrived in 2011, it has steadily grown into what will surely become a cult classic. Viewers have found themselves riveted, intrigued by the freaky, macabre imagery, erotic horror themes, and excellent performances. The series is an anthology which means that each season is a self-contained mini-series with actors playing different roles from season to season.
I think the reason this series is so popular is because it allows us to explore themes and places that fascinate us and that we wouldn’t usually be able to experience firsthand. So far, the creators have taken our hand and led us down an intriguing path passing freak shows, insane asylums, disturbing hotels, and witch covens— and they’re not done yet. In American Horror Story: My Roanoke Nightmare they bring us a story of supernatural horror and haunting. This haunting is inflicted upon a city couple by the ghosts of the Lost Colony of Roanoke.
So far, the storyline is brilliant and keeps us glued to our screens, but there may be some things you don’t know about this season of AHS and the actors who play in it…
Not that it isn’t obvious, but you might want to watch out for spoilers*
15. Its Connection To AHS: Freak Show
While all seasons of American Horror Story seem unconnected they aren’t. If you pay attention and watch carefully, you’ll know that the storylines and characters do connect from season to season. Sarah Paulson’s played a psychic in the first season and we saw her character again in AHS: Hotel when she checks in with the intention of doing a special investigation of the hotel for her reality show. We also saw a connection when Pepper from AHS: Freak Show was taken off to Briarcliff Manor by Sister Mary Eunice (AHS: Asylum) in the season finale. These are just two examples of multiple connections that have popped up.
In AHS: Roanoke Evan Peters’ character was recently introduced as Edward Mott. Does the Mott name sound familiar to you? It should. Peter’s character is the ancestor of AHS: Freak Show character Dandy Mott. Is this the last connection we’ll see to Freak Show? We’ll have to wait and see…
14. Roanoke Island Has A Truly Scary History
Fans will already know that American Horror Story uses real life events as a basis for some of their storylines such as the Hotel Cortez (Season 5), which is based on a real hotel called the Cecil Hotel in Los Angeles which has a dark and disturbing past. It also profiles real people such as serial killers (AHS: Hotel), Marie Delphine LaLaurie (AHS: Coven), and The Black Dahlia (AHS: Murder House) to name just a few.
AHS: Roanoke was also inspired by true events. In 1590, Colony leader John White returned to the Roanoke Island from England to check on the 115 members of the English colony only to find the settlement completely deserted with no sign of what happened to the colonists living there. There were no signs of a struggle and no bodies were found. Although there are many theories as to what may have happened, the mystery of the Lost Colony remains unsolved to this day.
13. A First In Set Design
American Horror Story usually makes use of existing buildings to film the series. In AHS: Murder House they filmed in a house in Country Club Park, Los Angeles as well as on a replica set. Sets have been used extensively for the filming of most of the series’ installments.
For AHS: My Roanoke Nightmare, the set designers actually built the house that you see Shelby and Matt Miller moving into. It took them four months to do this and the house is fully functional, complete with finishing touches and furniture. Its location is unknown, however, we do know that it is somewhere in a California forest. This was the first time that AHS built a complete home for filming and it’s quite unique for any television production.
12. Changing Styles
Another first for the series is the new mockumentary style format. Up until the end of episode five we saw Lily Rabe and Andre Holland playing the “real life couple” and telling the story of their supernatural experiences to a film crew while Sarah Paulson and Cuba Gooding Jr. are seemingly actors in the recreations of their tale. But in the fifth episode we saw the “reality series” about them come to an end.
The big hype then centered around the style of the next episode and no one knew quite what to expect. And after the anticipation fans were definitely rewarded with a fantastic episode six. The style followed was that of found footage– another first for the series. Co-creator Ryan Murphy was quoted in August 2015 as saying this about season six “The next thing we’re crafting up is very very different than [Hotel], not smaller. But just not opulent. More rogue and more dark.” He’s certainly delivered!
11. The Mystery Of “Croatoan”
People are shouting this word a lot in AHS: My Roanoke Nightmare, hoping it will provide them with some kind of protection, but what does it actually mean or refer to?
Officially, the word ‘Croatoan’ or ‘Croatan’ refers to a group of Native American people who once lived along the coastline of what is now North Carolina. They were believed to be on good terms with the infamous Lost Colony. When the island colony was found deserted by John White, the only clue was this word, carved on a tree. White believed this may have meant that the colony had moved to Croatoan Island, but storm conditions made it impossible to check and they had to turn around.
The word has popped up over the years under quite mysterious circumstances. Edgar Allan Poe was said to have muttered the word during his last days and the word was found carved into the last bed that Ambrose Bierce (author) slept in before disappearing without a trace. Allegedly, this was also the last word recorded in the logbook of Carroll A. Deering. It was discovered when the boat crashed in Cape Hatteras in 1921 with not a soul on board.
10. Award After Award
This season (like many of the others) is jam packed with award-winning actors. This combination of incredible actors and original story-making are a few of the things that have kept the series fresh since it began in 2011.
Cuba Gooding Jr. (Matt) won an Academy Award for Jerry Maguire, Sarah Paulson won several Critics’ Choice Television Awards for her roles in Asylum, Freak Show, and Hotel, Kathy Bates has been nominated for three Academy Awards and won one in 1990. Angela Basset (who also directed Episode 6 of AHS: Roanoke) has had several nominations for various awards, including an Academy Award, and won a Golden Globe award in 1994.
9. The Historical White Reference
In AHS: Roanoke Kathy Bates plays a gripping character named Tomasyn White, AKA “The Butcher” (due to her enthusiasm towards human sacrifice). As the story unfolded, we saw that she is the wife of the true life Governor of the Roanoke Colony, John White. This is also historically accurate, but she wasn’t the only family he left on the island. His daughter and infant granddaughter were also among the 115 people who simply vanished without a trace.
In My Roanoke Nightmare, Bates’ character takes on the role of governor of the colony when her husband returns to England to get supplies. As we know, this doesn’t go smoothly at all and her battle to retain control over the colony takes a bloody turn. This was a clever detail added by writers to tie the historical accounts into the AHS storyline.
8. Only Two Actors Have Appeared In All Six Seasons
As American Horror Story is an anthology, which means the same actors return to play different characters in different themed stories each time, we are used to change within the show. We’ve seen some actors just pop up in one or two seasons, and noticed the subtle connections made between the seasons.
There have only been two actors who’ve been constants throughout the series and they are Evan Peters and Sarah Paulson. They’ve both played in every season from Murder House all the way to AHS: My Roanoke Nightmare. Sarah has played a psychic, reporter, mental patient, witch, deformed freak show performer, junkie, and now a yoga instructor/haunting victim. Evan Peters, whom the series has rocketed to success, has so far played a teen killer, alien abductee/mental patient, resurrected schoolboy, a “lobster boy” circus performer, hotel builder/mass murderer, and finally the designer of the Roanoke House.
7. Angela Basset Is Doing More Than Acting For AHS Roanoke
Angela Basset is quite an incredible actress, having enjoyed a long career usually portraying strong female characters. She looks amazing as well; it’s really hard to believe that she is 58 years old!
Since she joined the franchise, Basset has played a voodoo witch, a three-breasted hermaphrodite, a famous movie star (not much acting required there), and now the sister of Matt– one of the leading characters in My Roanoke Nightmare. But acting will not be her only contribution this season. Basset directed the sixth episode of season six, her second directing credit after she directed the television movie Whitney in 2015 for which she earned high praise.
6. Unusual Marketing Campaign
American Horror Story: My Roanoke Nightmare took on a whole new approach when it came to marketing the most recent installment. Before previous seasons were released, the marketing was fairly traditional and consisted of social media posts and teaser trailers on YouTube. These all contained the name of the upcoming season and hinted towards the theme. AHS: Hotel was even announced by Lady Gaga via Twitter.
But when it came to season six, the creators decided to do something completely different. In an unorthodox move, they kept a tight lid on the plot and the cast until the first episode aired. This resulted in massive hype around the franchise and, of course, multitudes of theories about what could be coming up next. FX aired more than a dozen different teaser trailers, which they later confirmed only one had not been a deliberate misdirect.
Looking at the viewers’ numbers for the premier of AHS: Roanoke it’s not clear that this marketing strategy had the desired effect. It was watched by 5.14 million viewers, the lowest out of the last four seasons. Does this mean they won’t go this route again?
5. Season Six Theme Speculation
Because of the intense secrecy regarding the theme of the sixth season, fans were free to speculate wildly, and they did! The internet was full of articles where people tried to make sense of the trailers and tidbits of information that were available. Initially, it was believed that the series may revolve around Slender Man. Others believed the season’s theme could be about a farm or orphanage, with others suspecting it could be based on a cult, particularly the Manson Family. It was later revealed that the show had considered the Manson theme for the third season, but decided to go with Coven in the end.
When TMZ released secret photos from the set, fans started to suspect the theme would be colonial in nature due to the set design and one other specific detail. On set, they photographed a tree with the word “Croatoan” carved on it– a well-known aspect of the story of the Lost Colony.
4. New Approach To Writing
Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk took a slightly different approach with the creation of season six. They said it usually takes them a year to write a new season, but this time they hired a new group of writers to work on the story while they filmed AHS: Hotel. This meant that principal photography was able to begin early in June 2016 and the series was ready for release in September.
This seems to have worked out really well, and we already know that the franchise has been approved for a seventh season. Sadly, it will still be a while before they let us in on the theme (if they do this time) but meanwhile, we can still enjoy the remainder of My Roanoke Nightmare. Let’s just hope those writers have been very busy creating more deliciously macabre American Horror Story for us!
3. The Missing Opening Sequence
Fans have come to know, love, and ultimately expect a creepy opening sequence. Up until now, these sequences were created by Kyle Cooper, and if you saw something familiar in the previous openings, that’s because he has done tons of opening sequences for movies and series including Seven and The Walking Dead.
But where is the opening sequence for My Roanoke Nightmare? Since the first episode aired, this has been a question that many fans have been asking, but as yet we still don’t have a concrete answer. All we know is that we are really missing the creepy theme music and spine-chilling imagery! Some people are speculating that there is going to be a twist or change from the current “show within a show” style, but as usual, we’ll just have to watch, wait and see…
2. Where Is Jessica Lange?
Since the start, Jessica Lange has been one of the main attractions of the beloved series and fans were sad when it was confirmed that she would not appear in AHS: Hotel. Lady Gaga did an excellent job of stepping in as the leading lady (even picking up a Golden Globe for her performance as the Countess) but it just wasn’t quite the same.
When asked if she would be returning for season six, Lange responded “No. I think, you know, I had four years with that, four seasons, and each year was a marvelous character. Everything changed from one year to another which made it very interesting for me. But no,” much to the dismay of fans.
But she has hinted that she might appear in future seasons if she was offered a small role, and co-creator Ryan Murphy has hinted that many familiar faces from the previous seasons will be appearing in AHS: Roanoke, so maybe there’s still a chance.
1. What’s Happening With Evan Peters?
When Evan Peters, who plays an art collecting gentleman and original designer of the Roanoke House finally appeared in the most recent season fans were delighted. Evan himself is also looking pretty happy recently and was spotted grabbing lunch and spending time with Emma Roberts (who played in both AHS: Coven and Freak Show). The two have had a topsy-turvy relationship over the past few years. They had a loud argument in a hotel room in 2012 that ended with them hitting each other and police were called. However, they were able to move past this and Peters announced their engagement in March 2013.
It seems they’ve stuck it out and we’re glad– after all, we want one of our favorite stars to be happy as well! Could we be seeing a wedding in the cards soon? Once again, we’ll have to wait and see!
References: movienewsguide.com, popsugar.com, mtv.com, techtimes.com