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American Horror Story: Roanoke is the sixth season of the FX horror anthology television series American Horror Story. It premiered on September 14, 2016, marking the first time the series has debuted outside of October, and concluded on November 16, 2016.

Prior to the premiere, series co-creator Ryan Murphy stated this season of the series would be "more rogue" and "dark" in contrast to its previous cycle, Hotel. Details about its plot and cast were kept secret until the first episode aired, an unusual approach to publicity for the series. As such, it became the first iteration of the series to not release a subtitle prior to the season premiere since its debut. Several potential themes were theorized based on various promotional material produced by FX. After the release of pictures taken from the set in Santa Clarita, it was widely speculated that the season would incorporate the infamous 1590s Roanoke Colony disappearance. The premiere episode revealed the season to be depicted as a paranormal documentary entitled My Roanoke Nightmare which reenacts the experiences of a married couple who relocate to North Carolina.

Returning cast members from previous seasons include: Evan Peters, Sarah Paulson, Lily Rabe, Denis O'Hare, Kathy Bates, Frances Conroy, Angela Bassett, Wes Bentley, Finn Wittrock, Lady Gaga, Cheyenne Jackson, Leslie Jordan, Adina Porter, Robin Weigert, and Taissa Farmiga. New additions to the cast are Cuba Gooding Jr. and André Holland. Paulson also reprised her role as the Asylum character, Lana Winters, for the season finale. Roanoke has received positive reviews, with critics noting its subdued aesthetic and pacing in comparison to earlier seasons of the series.

Plot

Presented as a paranormal documentary series titled My Roanoke Nightmare, the story follows a married couple whose experiences are reenacted by actors. Shelby and Matt Miller move from Los Angeles, California, to a house in North Carolina following a brutal assault which left Matt temporarily hospitalized and caused Shelby to have a miscarriage. As soon as the couple settles into their new home, strange and paranormal occurrences begin to haunt them.

The second half of the season presents the follow-up series entitled Return to Roanoke: Three Days in Hell, which places the reenactors and their real life counterparts in the Roanoke house for three days during the Blood Moon. The assembled found footage displays how all but one of the participants die as they face the true horrors within the Roanoke house.

Cast and characters

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Main

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Special guest stars

Recurring

Guest stars

Template:NoteThese actors portray their characters solely in the My Roanoke Nightmare re-enactment.

Episodes

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Production

Development

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"We just thought it would really be fun to keep it a mystery, so we are; we just thought that would be a nice change after doing things one way for five years."

– FX president and CEO John Landgraf on the marketing strategy for the sixth season[1]

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On November 10, 2015, the network renewed the series for a sixth cycle;[2] which premiered on September 14, 2016.[3] In August 2015, co-creator Ryan Murphy commented on the sixth year, stating, "The next thing we're crafting up is very very different than [Hotel], not smaller. But just not opulent. More rogue and more dark."[4] In October 2015, when questioned about clues and hints alluding to the sixth season (as has been the status quo since the first season of the series) in Hotel, Murphy revealed he had yet to definitively decide on a theme, "This is an interesting year in that the idea that we’re dealing with I've mentioned in several seasons. It's been there before. We've actually talked about it a lot on the show. I might do that for season 7 but I'm leaning towards that for season 6." In January 2016, FX president John Landgraf revealed that the season will be "principally set in the present", with a dual timeline in "echoes of the past". He also confirmed a fall 2016 premiere.[5] At the 2016 PaleyFest, Murphy divulged that the two previous ideas [the writers] had been considering had been merged into season six, saying it will involve children and operatic themes.[6] The season will consist of 10 episodes, the least in a given cycle, in the show's history; with the finale scheduled to air November 16, 2016.[7][8] On September 1, 2016, it was reported by Entertainment Weekly that the season was possibly subtitled The Mist, as a Rotten Tomatoes page and TV Guide magazine had printed; which was later proven untrue.[9] There is a direct connection to Freak Show with an exploration of the Mott family origin.[10]

In a late September issue of Entertainment Weekly, Falchuk and Murphy revealed there would be a major twist coming to the series in "Chapter 6". Murphy said of the matter, "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, It's a hat on a hat on a hat on a hat that we've had to protect." Falchuk added, "No matter what you think it is, it's not that. Then, episode 6 comes and you're like, 'Wait! What happened?' It's like [episodes] 1–5, 6–9, and 10 is its own thing."[11] Murphy went on to confirm the turn in the season being a behind-the-camera look at the production of the faux documentary My Roanoke Nightmare.[12] He also stated that the final episode will feature characters, and their mythologies, that will continue on in the overall series.[13]

Set design

Colonial ware and design are incorporated into the season, which is theorized to be, at least partially, set in 1590 Roanoke, North Carolina. A pioneer cottage is incorporated in Santa Clarita, California. The set is fully dressed in time-period appropriate dressings, including an etched tree.[14] The production designers constructed an entire colonial house, that serves as the season's chief setting. The house was constructed in an undisclosed California forest, over the course of four months. The abode is completely functional, furnished, and finished inside and out. This is the first time in American Horror Story history that a complete home has been built, and is quite unprecedented for film and television productions in general.[15] A three-story set built in Malibu Canyon was not permitted properly, and after being torn down in October 2016, FX "will be required to do extensive restoration."[16]

Casting

In October 2015, Murphy tweeted that he had asked Hotel star Lady Gaga to join the untitled season, but did not expect an answer anytime soon.[17] She later confirmed her involvement in March 2016.[18] Coven star Emma Roberts has stated that she and Murphy have talked about a "devilish" role for her in the season.[19] Murder House and Coven star Taissa Farmiga was heavily rumored to be involved with the season in some form.[20] Murphy later confirmed Farmiga would appear late in the season.[12][21] In February 2016, Angela Bassett confirmed her return to the series during an interview on Larry King Now, being the first cast member added to the season 6 roster. She portrays Lee Harris, a re-enactor of the documentary's horrific events.[22][23] At PaleyFest, Murphy invited Kathy Bates, Denis O'Hare, Sarah Paulson, Finn Wittrock, Cheyenne Jackson, Wes Bentley, and Matt Bomer to return to the show for its sixth season. In May 2016, Jessica Lange stated, in an interview with Charlie Rose, that she would not be returning for the sixth or any other future season of the series; saying, "No, 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 to me. But no, I think sometimes you come to the end of something..."[24] However, Variety published an article in September 2016, reporting Lange would appear.[25]

In June 2016, Coven alum Leslie Jordan announced his return to the series, stating he had been approached to appear in Freak Show, but declined. He was surprised to get a call from Murphy again.[26] Later in the month, Bomer, Jackson, and Evan Peters confirmed their involvement with the sixth season.[27][28][29] O'Hare stated he would return in some capacity in a May 2016 interview.[30] Us Weekly has reported the returns of Bentley, Bates, and Wittrock.[31] In an early August 2016 interview with Glamour, series veteran Sarah Paulson announced her return for the sixth year. She said of the show, "I just think I have the greatest job on the planet because my TV show [American Horror Story] is going into its sixth season and I'm playing an entirely different character, like nothing I've ever played."[32] She plays the featured re-enactor in the horrific documentary. On Halloween 2016, Murphy announced the return of Paulson's Asylum character, Lana Winters.[33] TMZ reported the casting of The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story star Cuba Gooding Jr.[15] Gooding Jr. himself later went on to confirm his presence in the season, also announcing that he will share most screen-time with former co-star Paulson, stating, "It's really been a treat to finally engage with her on camera, because when we did The People v. O. J. it was more about my scenes and then her scenes and us being in the courtroom but separate, but we're not separate no more!"[34] He plays the co-lead of the My Roanoke Nightmare documentary. In September 2016, Glee alum Jacob Artist announced his involvement with the sixth season.[35]

Filming

In March 2016, the series received a major tax credit for filming of the season in Los Angeles, California.[36] Cast alum Angela Bassett, along with Jennifer Lynch, Marita Grabiak, Gwyneth Horder-Payton, Elodie Keene, and Alexis Korycinski were set as directors during the season, marking the first time women have served in the capacity on the show.[20] In June 2016, cast member Jackson stated that the season had already clandestinely begun principal photography earlier that month.[37] On August 1, 2016, TMZ published photographs of the American Horror Story set in Santa Clarita, California; that consists of a small Pioneer home, and a tree with the word "Croatoan" carved into its center. Both of these things are attributed to the 1590 colony of 117 people, in Roanoke, North Carolina, that disappeared without a trace, and the only clue left was the carving – the name being a nearby island and tribe of Native Americans.[14] Later, TMZ unveiled more set photos from an unknown California forest.[15]

Marketing

Campaign

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"After all the breadcrumbs, you are definitely going to get the sandwich. There's no bait and switch here. It was about celebrating the building and worshiping the anticipation."

– FX Head of Marketing Stephanie Gibbons on the fear that the publicity wouldn't materialize a quality season[38]

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The marketing campaign for the season was one of mystery. On June 6, 2016, all of the series' social media pages displayed a teaser image of a red number six, with a question mark superimposed. Little was known about plot details or casting before the premiere, which seems to be a deliberate ploy of publicity. The following months saw a virtual reality experience at the 2016 San Diego Comic-Con International,[39] a multitude of motley teaser trailers and posters,[40] a Mercedes-Benz sweepstakes;[41] and no casting or plot announcements. At the Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour, on August 9, 2016, FX chief John Landgraf announced that all, but one, of the teaser trailers released thus far have been deliberate misdirects by the network. Explaining, "[Murphy and Stephanie Gibbons, FX head of marketing and on-air promotions] went out and made many more trailers than you've actually seen for hypothetical seasons of American Horror Story, meaning different genres and different places". Landgraf also reiterated what had been previously reported, that the official theme of the cycle will not be revealed until the airing of the first episode.[1]

A week before the premiere FX released a trailer featuring Lady Gaga's new single "Perfect Illusion", speaking to the anonymity of the season.[42] In a September 13, 2016 interview with The Hollywood Reporter, marketing chief Stephanie Gibbons spoke at length about the risks and idea behind the seasons complete anonymity. Explaining the origin of her campaign, "I felt we would play on two aspects of the human helix: Desire to know, the curiosity to find out what you don't know; and perhaps more importantly, the notion of how powerful withholding is to the human psyche. Often wanting is more fulfilling than having."[38]

Plot theories

One of the earliest season hypotheses was that of Slender Man, the 2009 phenomenon, a man with a blank face, tractable arms, and killer of children. However, sources working on the show confirmed to Entertainment Weekly, in January 2016, that the myth would not be appearing, and that a theme had already been established for the season, and would be revealed in March. Though, this did not come to pass.[43] Based on the teaser trailers and several interviews given by Murphy, media reported the plot of the season as dealing with cult, farm, orphanage, colony, or the storyline of the Antichrist, which has already been touched on by the series in season one (Vivien and Tate's child, Michael, that Constance took as her own, was considered to be the titular figure).[44][45] Deadline's Ross A. Lincoln posited the theory that the cycle will revolve around the Bloody Benders family. They owned an inn and general store in rural 1800s Kansas and were responsible for the deaths of 11 passersby, later disappearing.[46] Photos from the set released by TMZ confirmed the season to incorporate colonial aspects. VultureTemplate:'s Jordan Crucchiola theorized it to be about the Roanoke Colony, with Murphy likely to adapt the historical explanation of the settlers disappearance.[47] The Huffington Post added that another story avenue Murphy might venture on is the colloquial belief that the colonist vanished under supernatural circumstances.[48] Screener's Aaron Pruner noted that the colony was mentioned by Billie Dean Howard in Murder House, thus alluding to the possible Antichrist or supernatural presence in the sixth season. Pruner also mentioned that the history of the word "Croatoan" is vast and unnerving. Days before the death of author Edgar Allan Poe, he is said to have muttered the cryptic word as his final. Furthermore, in 1937, the word was found scribbled in fated pilot Amelia Earhart's journal.[49] Kate Feldman from New York Daily News has speculated that the season will revolve around the Manson family; she cited iconography in a teaser, Charles Manson's fascination with spiders (i.e. official poster for season), Evan Peters' appearance resembling Manson, and Murphy's previous comments stating that the series had considered the theme for the third year, which ultimately shifted to Coven.[50] However, Sarah Paulson has rejected the Manson theme, saying, "Wrong! You can look me dead in the eyes. You are wrong, dead wrong. And you will see that I am not lying to you. I'm not pulling a little Jedi mind trick."[51] After the release of the revealing "Anthology" trailer, The Huffington PostTemplate:'s Bill Bradley suggested, after taking into account several factors, that the season would feature a discarded Murder House menace that slays his victims with hedge trimmers.[52] TV Guide suggested a major connection to Asylum concerning the spider shown travelling under the skin of a person in one of the teasers for the season.[53]

Reception

Critical response

American Horror Story: Roanoke has received positive reviews from critics. The review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gave the season a 78% approval rating, with an average rating of 6.7/10, based on 13 reviews. The site's consensus reads, "American Horror Story: My Roanoke Nightmare takes a surprising turn away from prior AHS formats, revisiting the deliberate pace of earlier seasons on a spookier, smaller scale, even if the true-crime format feels overdone."[54] On Metacritic, the season was given a score of 72 out of 100 based on 9 reviews, indicating "generally positive reviews".[55]

Dan Fienberg of The Hollywood Reporter gave a positive review, writing, "When you're the type of show prone to kicking off a season with the introduction of a hairless mole man with a killer dildo, it's possible that the most provocative thing you can do to start a chapter is eschewing mole men, dildos and, in fact, killing altogether for a full week. The American Horror Story franchise has been and done many things, but it's never offered such a false sense of security, so this subdued start may be the scariest promise at all. It's the most curious I've been about future installments in a long time."[56] Jeff Jensen of Entertainment Weekly also gave a positive review, writing, "The use of mystery to market the season may have been contrived, but at this point, mystery might also be the best thing going for it, too."[57] Ben Travers of IndieWire called the premiere "a promising start with a central mystery as tantalizing as the ads teasing it."[58] Template:American Horror Story RT scores S6

Awards and nominations

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Year Award Category Nominated artist/work Result
2016 Art Directors Guild Awards Television Movie or Limited Series Andrew Murdock (Episode: "Chapter 4) Nominated
Costume Designers Guild Awards Contemporary TV Series Lou Eyrich and Helen Huang Won
2017 People's Choice Awards Favorite Cable TV Sci-Fi/Fantasy Show Nominated
Black Reel Awards Best Supporting Actress in a TV Movie or Limited Series Angela Bassett Nominated
Outstanding Director in a Television Miniseries or Movie Nominated
Fangoria Chainsaw Awards Best TV Supporting Actress Sarah Paulson Template:Pending
Best TV SFX Eryn Krueger Mekash and David LeRoy Anderson Template:Pending
Saturn Awards Best Horror Television Series American Horror Story: Roanoke Template:Pending
Best Actress on Television Sarah Paulson Template:Pending
Best Supporting Actress on Television Kathy Bates Template:Pending
Adina Porter Template:Pending
Best Guest Starring Role on Television Leslie Jordan Template:Pending
MTV Movie & TV Awards Best Villain Wes Bentley Template:Pending

Ratings

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Template:Note Live +7 ratings were not available, so Live +3 ratings have been used instead. Template:American Horror Story ratings

References

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External links

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Template:American Horror Story

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