We're already two episodes into American Horror Story Season 6, and I'm still not totally sure what's going on. The story is, technically, straightforward: the new season follows married couple Shelby and Matt as they slowly realize their new home, and the woods surrounding it, is haunted by the ghosts of the Lost Colony of Roanoke. Things get more complicated when Matt's disgraced police officer sister Lee comes to stay with them, bringing along the daughter she's not technically supposed to be around. What's weird about American Horror Story this season isn't the actually horror story, but the framework through which we view it: the series has adopted a fake ghost documentary style, with two separate sets of actors playing Matt, Shelby, and Lee. The new AHS format has stirred up some theories, and now, a new AHS promo suggests the "real Lee" may have a deeper story than we're led to believe.
The new season jumps back and forth between a "talking heads" format, in which actors Lily Rabe, Andre Holland, and Adina Porter play Shelby, Matt, and Lee, and a "dramatic re-enactment" format, in which Sarah Paulson, Cuba Gooding Jr., and Angela Bassett play the same characters, respectively. However, there's a big difference in the attitudes of the re-enactors and the "real people." Rabe's Shelby and Holland's Matt feel oddly insincere in contrast to Paulson and Gooding Jr. — and we know that has nothing to do with the quality of Rabe or Holland's acting.
The choice seems deliberate, while Porter, who plays "real" Lee, seems emotional, on edge, and distraught the entire time she films. In fact, in the very first episode, Lee asks the camera crew to "stop filming" — but Shelby and Matt never address the fact that they're on camera at all. That could be just a difference in attitude between the couple and Lee, but maybe it's more than that. In the promo for new episode "Chapter 3," Lee once again breaks the fourth wall.
Unlike her previous episodes, Lee is visibly angry when she tells the crew to "turn off those cameras." Maybe that's no big deal: Lee is telling a story about her daughter was possibly abducted, and it's possible that re-visiting that incident could be upsetting. However, I refuse to believe that American Horror Story intends on being that straightforward with us, especially considering its use of a storytelling device that, in my opinion, makes it a little hard to connect with the show's characters. (Why should we care about actors playing actors, right?) What if Lee's reaction is a clue that there's actually a lot more to the story than we thought of — that, perhaps, what we're seeing in the re-enactments isn't actually what happened at all?
Perhaps Lee's not okay with stretching the truth about the haunting she experienced, and she's pushing back against a show that wants her to frame things a certain way. Maybe the Lee in the re-enactments is actually the "real" Lee, while the Lee we see on camera is a relative or someone else close to the story who got roped into posing as Lee for the show. American Horror Story may be tricking us into believing the Rabe's Shelby and Holland's Matt's version of things, when, in reality, the truth is a lot more disturbing than what their telling us.
Come on, American Horror Story — what are you hiding? I can't wait to find out.
Image: AHS World/YouTube