Roanoke, Virginia & ‘American Horror Story’ Are Not Related, But People Are Still Pretty Confused
Growing up in the Old North State, I was familiar with the story of the Lost Colony. Sometimes, I forget that not everybody in the country knows the difference between Eastern and Lexington barbecue, what the word "Piedmont" means, and the intricacies of college basketball rivalries. So, when a popular TV show takes on a mystery that I've taken for granted, it's doubly bemusing. American Horror Story: Roanoke has sparked reactions about Roanoke Island's location IRL... because there's one tiny, additional problem. American Horror Story takes place in North Carolina, not Virginia — even though there is another place called Roanoke that's much more recognizable and easier to Google. Roanoke, Virginia is not the Lost Colony — and thanks to AHS, a lot of people are learning this for the first time.
Part of this confusion is because it was all Virginia back then, named for Queen Elizabeth I's unmarried status. North Carolina was named after King Charles II, who wasn't on the throne when the Lost Colony was founded. The location of the Roanoke Colony is in what is now North Carolina, which became its own royal colony in 1729. Today's Roanoke, Virginia is not an island, has never been lost as far as I know, and is almost 350 miles away from the former colony.
If I didn't know anything about the show, I would assume that something called American Horror Story: Roanoke was taking place in Virginia, as well. But throw the word "croatoan" in there, and all bets are off. This is the Outer Banks we're talking about, in Dare County. The Island is near Fort Raleigh, the Cape Hatteras lighthouse, and not too far from where the Wright Brothers first flew their plane. But enough of my tourism pitch, there is actually a restored farm on Roanoke Island, like the one on American Horror Story, though it's a museum.
But what about those who got the island confused with an inland city in a different state? Some spoke out on Twitter about the initial confusion.
Seriously, minds were blown by the realization that the Lost Colony is not in the Virginia mountains. Think about it! The colonists couldn't travel that far on foot.
However, the highlight was this hilarious exchange between the City of Roanoke (Virginia) and Entertainment Weekly 's Marc Snetiker. Honestly, it's my American Horror Story OTP.
Granted, I have a hunch that Snetiker was focusing more on making a joke than geographical accuracy — or accurately predicting that other folks would confuse the two towns. People also misidentified the colony as being in Virginia in a tweet and headline. Either way, Virginia was going to have some attention thrown their way in the wake of this development.
However, I'm not here to pile on, as the City of Roanoke already has. It got real.
Like, really real.
So funny! Now, I'm not about to roll my eyes and claim that these mix-ups mean that "the South is all the same" to fans of AHS from other parts of the country, as much as that tantalizes my melodramatic side. That would be a bit over the line, even for me. (I'm not thrilled about those redneck stereotypes, but that's another story.) If I'm being perfectly candid and honest, I have in moments of tiredness conflated the Lost Colony and Jamestown, Virginia. History is hard, y'all! I love moments like this that bring television audiences together via the internet.
Who knew that American Horror Story would teach everyone such an important history and geography lesson? Who says television doesn't make you smart? If AHS Roanoke made this much of a commotion with its first episode, I can't wait to see what the rest of the season has in store for us.
Image: FX Networks