American Horror Story has a habit of starting out strong only to falter at the final hurdle. Any fan will tell you that pacing is a much bigger issue than anything Sarah Paulson has dealt with on the show. Even after nine seasons, the problem persisted in the most recent instalment, 1984.
However, it seems that by telling a different kind of storey, American Horror Story may have actually learned its lesson.
Although each chapter builds on the previous one, Season ten will take it a step further by telling two stories in one season. The next season of American Horror Story will be called ‘Double Feature’, according to creator Ryan Murphy, who announced the news on social media last week.
Season ten, according to Murphy, will feature two different stories, one set by the sea and the other by the beach. Even after Finn Wittrock hinted that season ten will be “different” from the previous seasons, this ‘double feature’ style came as a surprise.
Most fans assume that these two stories will take place in the same season, which implies that both stories will be shorter.
If that’s the case, and if American Horror Story is really telling complete stories in a single season, then the show’s pacing problems can finally be addressed. Sure, there’s no guarantee, but over four or five series, the writing is much less likely to run out of steam than over nine or ten.
There is, however, one caveat to all of this, which Murphy discussed in passing in the comments section of his announcement video. When a fan enquired about the theme, he responded: “It means TWO SEASONS for the fans airing in one calendar year! So double the viewing pleasure. One set by the sea (this cast already announced). A second by the sand (that cast announcement coming).”
Does this imply that season eleven will be arriving on our shores this year as well? Is it possible that any of these stories will take place in season ten? If the former is right, pacing problems might still exist, although this seems unlikely. After all, the title ‘Double Feature’ means that both plots will take place in the same season. Why name it that if you’re going to spread these two stories out over two seasons, as is customary?
Despite the fact that it’s been a long time since the highs of Murder House, Asylum, and Coven, it’s encouraging to see American Horror Story continue to experiment with modern storytelling techniques. “There’s still more to come,” says the narrator.