‘American Horror Story: Roanoke’ Emerges as One of the Series Strongest Seasons

“Roanoke,” season six of “American Horror Story,” brings the series to the site of a lost 17th century colony that was referenced from the beginning of the show. Each season has referenced the lost Roanoke colony – an English settlement that vanished in 1600s.  

The first four episodes played out as a dramatized re-enactment, titled “My Roanoke Nightmare.” While the story seemed tame in terms of character development and horror, it worked to the show’s overall advantage for what came next.  

The second half of the season turned from mock dramatization to metafiction. The “actors” from “My Roanoke Nightmare” were introduced as real people. The show, “My Roanoke Nightmare,” was a giant success and the actors returned for season two – which was set in the “real world.” This is where the show got brutal. The gore, deaths and horror were no longer a re-enactment, but occurring in reality – a harsh contrast to what viewers had been seeing for the first half of the season.  

This season paid proper homage to many found footage and reality shows tropes. The structure was in the format of a reality show. Even though the format switched from mock ghost hunting shows and dramatizations to “60 Minutes” type interviews – it did so with ease and fluidity.

While Sarah Paulson, Kathy Bates, a majority of the regular cast returned for the season, the real star became Adina Porter. The actress had only a guest-starring role in the first season, but fought through this season with a brilliant performance that remained captivating from beginning to end. The honesty portrayed by Porter as the media in the show exploited her character came off as raw, real and defiant.

Of course, credit should be given to Paulson, who continues to deliver consistent performances season after season – and perhaps gave one of the best lines of the season, “I’m not American! I’m not used to all this carnage!”  

While this season of “American Horror Story” had its fair share of ghosts and gore, the real monster became the media – and its obsession to exploit tragedy. Six seasons in, “American Horror Story” proved relevant, fresh and original – providing a commentary on American society, and delivering it in cinematic fashion.

American Horror Story” returns to FX for season seven in 2017. Season six is available for streaming on Netflix.