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American Horror Documentary

By Thomas Gillen
Arts & Entertainment Editor

The arrival of fall does not only signal the start of school, but also the debut of new and returning TV shows that will dominate the small screen for the coming year. One of the most riveting shows each year is “American Horror Story.”

The FX show is structured in an anthology format, with each new season focusing on a different theme and bringing in new actors and characters. This show is for viewers who enjoy horror or drama shows. Viewers should be warned of extremely violent and disturbing scenes. Previous seasons have been subtitled Murder House, Asylum, Coven, Freak Show and Hotel. However, season six, subtitled Roanoke, is different in more ways than one.

Creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk have always released the theme of the season either in the summer or late spring, giving fans ample time to speculate and devise their own theories about the season. For season six, however, Murphy and Falchuk decided to try a different strategy and keep most of the season a secret, only revealing the actors.

Last season was a first of many; it saw singer Lady Gaga make her debut as the Countess. It was also the first season without Jessica Lange, who had been a main cast member since the show premiered in 2011. For Roanoke this season, Kathy Bates, Angela Bassett, Cuba Gooding Jr., Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters, Denis O’Hare, Lily Rabe, Wes Bentley, and Cheyenne Jackson will join Lady Gaga as the main cast members.

When season six premiered on Sept. 14, the iconic theme song and opening credits, which had been a staple since season one, were missing and were replaced with a title card stating, “My Roanoke Nightmare.” It claimed the story was based on true events. This season is also in a documentary style format, with two actors playing one character. Viewers are either watching one actor give an interview or watching dramatic re-enactments of events the characters are describing in the interviews. One of the problems viewers may have with the re-enactment scenes is its shift of focus between the characters, which may dust off some deeper concern for them.

Season six revolves around Matt and Shelby, played by Cuba Gooding Jr. and Sarah Paulson in the re-enactments and Lily Rabe and Andre Holland in the interviews. After experiencing tragedy in Los Angeles, the couple moves to North Carolina and purchases a house and large property that holds a few secrets of their own. Soon, the couple begins to hear strange noises at night. Consequently, Shelby follows a woman into the woods and stumbles upon a sacrificial ritual in the woods.

So far, Gooding Jr., Paulson, and Bassett have received the majority of the screen time in the re-enactments, with Bates, Gaga, and Bentley receiving limited screen time as supposed ghosts of the lost colony of Roanoke.

It remains to be seen if the documentary format will last the entire season or if this is just the beginning of another confusing season of “American Horror Story.” New episodes of “American Horror Story” air at 10 p.m. on FX.

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