Splitting American Horror Story Season 10 In Two Was The Best Move The Series Could Have Made
FX's American Horror Story: Double Feature is delivering two stories in one season, and it was a smart move.
This year's installment of American Horror Story divides the season in half in order to tell two separate stories--hence the "Double Feature" subtitle. Now in Season 10, splitting American Horror Story into two parts seemed a bit bizarre, but as we come towards the close of part one, it's the smartest decision the show could have made.
Most seasons of American Horror Story hit a bump in the road halfway through as characters get lost or new ideas/concepts are introduced late in the game. In Season 6--Roanoke--American Horror Story flipped the script by having the people who were dramatically reenacting the events on the TV show within a TV show, My Roanoke Nightmare, spend three days in the actual Roanoke haunted house. The final two episodes of the season revolved around fans of the My Roanoke Nightmare TV show and three other TV docuseries visiting the house. Yes, it's that bizarre and convoluted. While the concept of Season 6 of American Horror Story was brilliant, it was apparent that the story lost a lot of steam.
There are bumps in the roads like this in most seasons. The issue at hand isn't so much what people considered "filler episodes," though. There is typically one of these episodes per season, which dives into the backstories of a main character to help give viewers a better understanding of what is going on in the world. Those are more than welcome. Instead, the issue tends to be when American Horror Story flips the script in the latter half of the season, adding something major to the plot, leaving too much for writers and production to juggle, which leads to characters getting forgotten about or ignored and loose ends to stay loose. Remember when Season 2 ("Asylum") introduced aliens into the mix, even though it was completely unnecessary?
After watching American Horror Stories (the anthology series that recently wrapped up) and Part 1 of American Horror Story: Double Feature, it's apparent that shorter-form storytelling plays to the franchise's strengths. American Horror Stories had three episodes connected to Murder House--the finale told its own story but was connected to the first two episodes of the season. None of them felt like filler and the stories played out naturally--if you can call a person in a rubber suit killing people alongside a ghost "natural."
Part 1 of Double Feature, "Red Tide," tells the story of a writer looking to clear his head and get some inspiration for a screenplay he's writing. He comes across a pill that opens the creative side of your brain, but it comes at a cost: you thirst for blood. Without getting into spoiler territory, the seven episodes that make up the first chapter of "Double Feature" have worked out well. Viewers are treated to concise overarching stories, and American Horror Story hasn't been spending time trying to pack in side-stories to keep viewers invested in the whole season--something both Cult and Apocalypse fell victim to in the past.
While Red Tide had a relatively slow-paced story, it fit the narrative and at no point did it feel uninspired or meandering. And that's probably because the story fits within those seven episodes, and there is no wiggle room to do otherwise. If this story went the whole 10 episodes of this season, it would have hit a few snags. How do you extend a story that feels like it's coming to a natural conclusion by Episode 7? You shouldn't.
And that's where the interesting opportunity lies for American Horror Story: Double Feature. The final three episodes of the season will tell a second, complete story. Considering what American Horror Stories (the series that just wrapped up months ago) did with the Murder House episodes, I'm personally pretty excited to see what the series can pull off with the tail end of Season 10. It's especially exciting to see what the show will do with aliens again--since the posters for the season have an alien on them. We haven't seen aliens since "Asylum," so it's about time the series jumped back into that.
While this season isn't over yet, splitting it into two stories was a smart idea and kept the show going without it getting too convoluted. Here's to hoping American Horror Story continues this trend in future seasons. You can watch American Horror Story: Double Feature on FX on Wednesdays at 10 PM / 9 PM CT. You can also catch up on the series on Hulu.
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