What The Hell Is AHS: 1984 Even About? Let's Explore One Wild Theory

ahs 1984 killer laundry

With every year since its debut, American Horror Story has successfully kept fans locked in guessing games focused on what each new season will be about. Ryan Murphy & Co. actually clued fans in early on the title and overall theme of Season 9, with AHS: 1984 being a throwback summer-camp slasher in the vein of Friday the 13th. But what is the real story behind AHS: 1984?

Fans obviously won't be learning any hardcore specifics about AHS: 1984's plot this far ahead of the season premiere, but speaking of hardcore... What if AHS: 1984 is all about the unifying power of sex? No, seriously, stay with me for a little while on this.

Theory - AHS: 1984 Is All About Sex, Probably

To kick this theory off, all we have to do is look at the the batch of trailers that AHS: 1984 has put out as part of its promotional camp-aign. Everything looks just like Friday the 13th and Halloween and films of that sort, and horror fanatics are well aware of the "sex is bad" thematic trope that tethers slasher flicks together.

What if this season of AHS: 1984 flipped that notion around and gave power to characters who have sex? Let's look at some of the evidence, or at least what I'm calling evidence for the purposes of this argument.

Evidence A: AHS: 1984 Is A Deconstruction Of Summer Camp Horror

For some insight into how Ryan Murphy and others were angling this new season, consider what FX Networks Chairman John Landgraf told Deadline at the Television Critics Association summer press tour:

Ryan always has been so good deconstructing genres in a really fun way; this sort of deconstructs the classic summer camp horror trope, and therefore it’s really oriented around a group of young adults.

There are various ways that one could go about deconstructing camp horror tropes, but the easiest way (at least to me) would be to immediately deflect from the idea that the killer is a mega-prude aiming to hack up anyone who feels the need to get laid in an environment where the majority of the local population is "other horny young people."

Plus, one of the biggest slasher movie tropes – and one that speaks to a lot of horror of the '70s and '80s – is the Final Girl stereotype, in which the one virginal female character manages to survive to live another day...until a sequel likely killed her off in the opening 20 minutes. AHS: 1984 is already kind of bucking that trend by putting the focus on the entire ensemble of acting talent, as opposed to having Evan Peters, Sarah Paulson and a handful of others as the official "leads." (But what about them witches?)

Add this all together, and we might get a situation where Ryan Murphy and the writers figure out a way to defeat an evil killer by using a giant orgy. Not in like, the creepy kid-gangbang way that went down in Stephen King's IT, but rather a sequence that's equally creepy, just where adults are the ones doing the poking and prodding.

Evidence B: AHS: 1984's Teasers Reverse Slasher Movie Sex Tropes

If AHS: 1984's summer camp horror deconstruction were about food fights and pervy counselors, the show's first teasers might have hinted more at things going in that direction. Instead, though, some of the marketing has been very wink-wink with how the season's killer approaches others' sex lives...or the lack thereof.

For instance, in the video below, the killer targets a woman hanging up laundry that is whiter than the inside of a bleach bottle. If the clip only showed her sheet, it would have worked as a simple Halloween + Psycho nod. But when she pulls the sheet back, it reveals other more personal garments that are equally stainless, signifying a certain kind of cleanliness.

Then there’s this clip, which legit features a soundalike Friday the 13th tag. Two of the people immediately go off for “a walk,” which is not the kind you'd take with a dog. And it's the longing guy who gets left behind that ends up being the killer's victim, rather than the ones ignoring others to bone up.

We'll look at a more stand-still piece of marketing lower down.

Evidence C: Where AHS: 1984 Fits In The Nine Circles Of Hell

A couple of years ago, one fan seemingly pulled together a true unifying theory for all of the seasons of American Horror Story so far. The person matched up the various subtitles with the descending circles of Hell in Dante's Inferno. It might have gone unchecked if not for Ryan Murphy sharing the theory via social media, which isn't something he does very often with fan conjecture.

Check it out below, paying attention to what's missing.

A photo posted by on

It can be easily assumed that last season's Apocalypse storyline fell under the "Violence" circle, leaving AHS: 1984 to take on the "Lust" angle. Sure, that could technically stand for campers who have a lust for life and really lust after getting into those woods and roughing it up. But I wouldn't believe that for a second. Would you?

Given the way American Horror Story has handled sex scenes in Murder House (ghost rape), Asylum (aliens), Hotel (junkie demon rape) and elsewhere, it would be rather nice to see this franchise fully embrace its characters' libidinous actions, as opposed to using them mostly as forms of punishment.

Evidence D: The AHS: 1984 Poster

It would be easy to pretend I was making a "D" joke by putting the poster in the fourth slot, but I wasn't. In any case, check out the recently released poster for AHS: 1984 below, which looks identical to most slasher VHS covers of the time period.

First, do I even need to point out the penetrative demonstration on display here? The phallic imagery is pretty clear, right? I mean, I don't think that's exclusive to AHS: 1984 or anything, but there's a reason it's used here.

Also, and this is more to my point...does that female seen here look all that frightened by the sight of that knife? Her mouth is wide open, supposedly in mid-scream but there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of fear in her eyes. I don't know if I'm convinced here, guys, though I do realize this bit of conjecture does the best job of making me sound like a crackpot. So, let's just wrap things up.

Do you guys agree with me that sex will be a major component in AHS: 1984, or have I spent too much time cooped up in a bedroom behind a computer? Let us know in the comments.

AHS: 1984 stars Emma Roberts, Billie Lourd, Cody Fern, Leslie Grossman, Matthew Morrison, Gus Kenworthy, Angelica Ross, John Carroll Lynch, Zach Villa and DeRon Horton. While Sarah Paulson is not starring, there are rumors that she will show up for at least one scene, and speculation is high that her Asylum journalist Lana Winters will be the one to appear.

The summer fun will continue into the fall season when AHS: 1984 hits FX on Wednesday, September 18, at 10:00 p.m. ET.

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Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.