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Here we are, currently wiping the summer sweat from our foreheads as we anticipate Independence Day weekend, and somehow the marketing train for American Horror Story has yet to leave the station, and we're not even sure if anyone is inside the locomotive. Ryan Murphy's hit anthology drama only this week released the first official bit of artwork for Season 6, and it's not even a logo so much as a vague enigma. So I have to wonder, do viewers have reason to worry over American Horror Story's radio silence for Season 6 thus far?
Now, I'm not one of those people who wants movie and TV trailers to feature every single aspect of the project, so I'm technically fine with being kept in the dark on where American Horror Story is going in Season 6, but this issue is more focused on how different the promotional campaign is from every other season, and whether or not it indicates a problem. Take last year, for instance, when the Hotel subtitle and theme were announced with Lady Gaga's casting all the way back in February, with casting and other details coming in the following months. Earlier seasons also announced the themes and various character descriptions in the early months of the year, with only Asylum's concept getting announced as late as May. But it's the end of June, and we've got essentially nothing about Season 6 but the image below.
It's a 6 with a question mark worked into it. Clever, I suppose, but seemingly devoid of anything that clues us in on what Season 6 will actually be about. I suppose it was naive to have assumed that any initial official update would be more complicated than just a number, but we've come to expect more facts at this point in the year.
Sure, you might want to counter by saying that we've at least gotten casting news for American Horror Story's next season, but let's not forget that those announcements came from the actors themselves and not the show. Angela Bassett made her announcement to Larry King, both Matt Bomer and Lady Gaga confirmed their returns to radio stations, Cheyenne Jackson admitted his return to a magazine and Leslie Jordan shared his update with a newspaper. In years past, Ryan Murphy would generally be the one dropping at least a few of the earliest casting decisions, but he's been mighty quiet lately.
Is it possible that Murphy and his creative team are taking hints from J.J. Abrams and The Walking Dead when it comes to full opaqueness involving plot and characters? It makes more sense for projects highly familiar to people, like Star Wars or Game of Thrones, to go the mystery box route, howeve, while American Horror Story only has broad expectations going into it. Last season wouldn't have been any different, better or worse, had the hotel angle been kept from audiences until closer to the actual premiere. In the case of Freak Show, early conversations about Twisty the Clown actually raised awareness an excitement for the season quite a bit. So if the point of delaying real information is indeed an intentional move to build attention, then I can't imagine that the attention being sought out is impatient social media users.
Of course, there could always be a plausible answer that doesn't necessarily mean everyone involved has been cackling for months at all of our ignorance about the show's future. Ryan Murphy is one hell of a busy man in Hollywood these days, so it's possible-going-on-probable that he just wasn't able to set aside a dedicated time to fully unpack the next season with everyone else until much later than it's happened in the past. Not that anyone at FX would need a full set of episode outlines in order to tell people what the basic theme is - and Murphy has said this season will incorporate children and operatic themes into it - but that's at least a less conspiratorial angle that doesn't involve presumptions that hundreds of exquisitely dressed monkeys are in a room smoking cigarettes and banging on typewriters to get this season written.
Months ago, there were rumors that Season 6 would bring the Internet monster Slenderman to the small screen, but those were later debunked, without any notable rumors to serve as a replacement. I'd almost want someone working on the show to spread false information about what the season was about, since ungrounded excitement can sometimes qualify as a substitute for the real thing.
American Horror Story still has another three months or so to ease our minds by unleashing its expected flurry of creepy and ridiculous 10-second teasers leading up to the season premiere, so here's hoping that by the time news of next season's subject matter arrives, it will be well worth the wait. Expect it to show up in October on FX.