‘American Horror Story’ Season 6: What Are We Really Watching?

Tonight the third episode of American Horror Story: Roanoke will air, and viewers will hope for some clarification about what’s going on. What are we really watching? In some ways, this season is very different from previous seasons. In others, well, it’s American Horror Story, so each episode is chock full of references to previous seasons. But somehow it just doesn’t feel right. We feel like we haven’t been told what’s really going on yet. And actually, Ryan Murphy has confirmed that we don’t really know what’s going on yet. He told Entertainment Weekly that,

“You’ll see starting in episode 6, the show has a huge turn and the thing that you think you’re watching is not what you’re watching.”

Co-creator Brad Falchuk chimed in with,

“Even though the subject matter has gotten out, it’s irrelevant because nobody gets what we’re doing. No matter what you think it is, it’s not that. Then, episode 6 comes and you’re like, ‘Wait! What happened?”

Hmmm. Well, regardless of what they say, you can bet American Horror Story fans are going to spend hours trying to figure it out. Here’s a bit of what we’ve observed so far. Maybe it will help.

Let’s start at the very beginning, shall we? Check out this compilation of the opening credits for Seasons 1 through 5.

Creepy right? That same background music, flashes of scenes and things that give us clues about what’s to come – they all have these qualities in common. Now check out the opening for Season 6 of American Horror Story.

What? Well, we’ve known for a long time that Season 6 would be top secret. This opening is just one way AHS is still keeping us guessing.

Speaking of top secret, we have to talk about the teasers. We were told a while back that all of the teasers (26 in all) were misdirects, with only one being the real deal. I’m calling shenanigans on that. First, to refresh your memory, another nifty compilation. This one is of all the teasers we got for American Horror Story Season 6.

We’ve seen several of these represented in AHS already this year. A few of them are:

  • Wind Chimes – The teeth that fall to the ground when the wind chimes are cut foreshadowed the storm of human teeth in the first episode. And the nurse, we saw the pair of murderous nurses last week.
  • Lullaby – No, we haven’t seen a baby yet, but we’ve seen plenty of pigs, which is spelled out by the items in the mobile above the baby’s crib.
  • Blind Date – This scene looks very much like the hot tub scene of this season, when Shelby was pulled under the water.
  • Harvest – These walking cornhusks are very similar to the cornhusk dolls we saw hanging in the trees.

So maybe telling us they were a misdirect was a misdirect? Or maybe all but one gives us an element we’ll see in American Horror Story this year, but only one is the true theme.

OK, let’s move on.

Ryan Murphy also told us years ago that all the seasons of American Horror Story are connected. It’s not at all unusual to see elements of a previous season in a new season. But the number of parallels between this year and the Murder House season is huge. Both involve a couple who moved across the country following a miscarriage. Both couples buy a big house, find out it’s haunted, but can’t get out of it. Both stories include a daughter, both of whom have “flower names” — Violet in Murder House and Flora this year. Both have a backstory involving nurses (the Home Invasion episode of Season 1 and the MURDE nurses this year). Both couples discovered something super creepy under the wallpaper in their home. Then there’s Ben’s patient with a fear of the Piggy Piggy urban legend as compared to lots of pigs in this season. The list goes on. It’s American Horror Story. It’s not coincidence.

But then there are some odd things going on. This year’s American Horror Story (so far at least) is in a documentary format. We’ve been led to believe that Lily Rabe and Andre Holland are telling the story of something that happened to them, while Sarah Paulson and Cuba Gooding, Jr. re-enact it. Except Lily and Andre are awfully calm and collected as they recount some horrific things. Then there’s the fact that (sorry Cuba and Sarah) the two in the re-enactment look much older than the two telling the story. Isn’t that reversed? Shouldn’t the older versions of Shelby and Matt recall their experience while younger versions act it out?

Here’s one of the more popular theories about what we’re really seeing right now on American Horror Story and a couple of guesses about what’s to come. It addresses some of these issues pretty well.

Let’s go back to Murder House again — Sarah Paulson as Billie Dean Howard. She tells the story of the colonists who disappeared from Roanoke and about the Croatoan spell used to cast out spirits and she’s very interested in getting a television show.

So what if Season 6 of American Horror Story so far is a television show titled “My Roanoke Nightmare,” created by Billie Dean Howard? What if she’s using what she knows about what went on at Murder House as its basis? Lily and Andre aren’t the real Shelby and Matt, they are the actors. At some point, maybe tonight, the fourth wall will be broken to prove this theory. It would explain all the parallels with the Murder House plot. It would explain the backwards ages of the tellers of the story and the actors. And it would explain what we see Adina Porter do in the promo for tonight’s American Horror Story episode. Check it out below.

It would also explain what Cuba Gooding, Jr. told Vanity Fair about this season of American Horror Story.

“When I go, ‘Who’s playing the real Matt?’ They go, ‘André’ and I go ‘from The Knick? Oh my god, I love that guy, I can’t wait to see him… ‘”

Yes, I realize that he said Andre is the real Matt, but in the interview, Gooding is being very careful not to give anything away, so he could have intentionally switched who’s the real Matt and who’s the actor. Since Ryan Murphy said the big twist will come in Episode 6, this face-to-face with the two probably won’t come tonight, but tonight we may learn that the people telling the story are actors instead of the real people. For some reason the actor portraying Lee becomes agitated and asks them to stop filming. Maybe Billie Dean has manipulated the story and the actor doesn’t like it. If it turns out that so far in this season of American Horror Story we’ve been watching Billie Dean Howard’s television show, then maybe next week we’ll finally have an opening sequence more in line with what we’ve seen in previous seasons.

Of course, this is just one explanation for what we may really be watching on American Horror Story right now. It’s very possible Ryan Murphy is going to pull something out of his hat that we did not see coming at all. Guess we’ll have to keep tuning in to see how it all plays out. Well, okay, if we have to.

American Horror Story airs on FX on Wednesday nights at 10 p.m. ET.

[Image via FX]