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Each year, FX can depend on a new season of its American Horror Story to deliver some of the network's best ratings of the season, since the show's over-the-top chaos has been doing just that for going on ten seasons now. So when the bite-sized anthology spinoff American Horror Stories was announced, it made perfect sense. However, it looks like FX viewers won't be the ones heading into Ryan Murphy's new funhouse, as the network is now flipping tactics and turning American Horror Stories and one more highly anticipated project into streaming series on Hulu.
That's right, the Disney-owned cable channel and the Disney-owned streaming service are continuing to build their tag-teamed "Hulu on FX" branding, and the latest two projects to take the online leap are American Horror Stories and the long-awaited comic book adaptation Y: The Last Man. The announcements were made during Hulu's Newfronts presentation for advertisers, during which the streaming service unveiled new ad formats and spread the word about both its recently unveiled new projects and the aforementioned additions to the Hulu on FX library. Let's take a look at both of them one by one.
Why American Horror Stories Will Be Great For Hulu
As already discussed, American Horror Story has been a huge hit for FX, and has long established itself as one of the most successful horror TV shows of all time. That said, AHS has followed along with many other shows in that audiences for its weekly live broadcasts are getting slightly smaller on average, while the show's delayed viewing stats (accounting for on demand and DVR) have been rising. So rather than have to figure out a way to specifically boost American Horror Stories' chances with live audiences, execs can now look to optimizing the anytime-viewing habits of streaming audiences.
One of the franchise's biggest creative issues over the years involves stretching each year's story across 13 episodes, which was curbed for the most part with AHS: 1984's intentionally slashed episode count. The American Horror Stories spinoff will ease that longevity pain even more, with each episode featuring its own standalone story, similar to Twilight Zone and Black Mirror. Or even Hulu's own holiday-centric anthology Into the Dark, which brings one feature-length installment a month to subscribers. While the service's viewership stats aren't public, Hulu clearly has an idea of how that show is doing, implying that they're also hopeful for the AHS follow-up series.
As well, a streaming service allows for certain kinds of content freedom that American Horror Stories might not have gotten even on a censorship-averse network like FX. The franchise is obviously one that goes hard on chaotic violence and gore, so there could be an uptick in how graphic those elements are. As well, it wouldn't be a modern Ryan Murphy show without some form of sordid sexual situations, so nudity could become more of a factor in the single-serving anthology. The language might not be as much of an issue, since FX has been pretty open about embracing F-bombs in recent years.
Why Y: The Last Man Will Be Great For Hulu
As a project that has been in various forms of development for at least twelve years, FX's Y: The Last Man could get released as an in-game TV show on Fortnite or something and it would still be a victory for it to come to life at all. Thankfully, though, the Eliza Clark-headed project is definitely on the way, with a cast led by Diane Lane and Ben Schnetzer, and Hulu feels like it'll be just as solid of a home as FX would have been.
Given that Y: The Last Man isn't as dark and fucked up as American Horror Stories will likely be, its shift to Hulu isn't necessarily a sign that viewers will get more uncensored moments. However, the comic series will potentially gibe better with the streaming service in other thematic ways. Set in the post-apocalypse, Y: The Last Man centers on Yorick and his monkey Ampersand, who are both the last males of their species on the entire planet. With more questions than answers, Yorick finds himself trying hard to survive in a female-ruled world that isn't as appreciative of his goofy jokes as he'd like.
Given the hardcore focuses on gender, race and class, FX was definitely a suitable home, given original series such as Pose, Atlanta and Better Things. But FX also skews super-grim and adult with just about everything, while Hulu embraces all tones with its originals, from Little Fires Everywhere's controversial drama to The Great's sexually heightened comedy to Taste the Nation with Padma Lakshmi's culture-honoring. Y: The Last Man's creative team will likely have an easier time injecting the show with more optimism and sunshine than they would have had on FX.
The Hulu on FX branding initially made waves when Alex Garland's sci-fi drama Devs became the first FX series to get ported to the streaming service, with Cate Blanchett's Mrs. America following suit. Other projects that are also making the switch include the previously announced Jeff Bridges thriller The Old Man and Kate Mara and Nick Robinson's scandal-driven miniseries The Teacher.
During the same NewFronts presentation, Hulu also announced that The Handmaid's Tale Season 4 will be pushed back until 2021, making fans wait even longer to see how the dystopian drama will follow-up on the devastating third season. Hopefully that delay won't push it back too far, though.