In an interview with Entertainment Weekly on Thursday, Ryan Murphy, co-creator of FX horror-drama American Horror Story, announced that the cult favorite could be capitalizing on its newfound popularity by releasing two seasons in 2016.
“Next year we might be doing a fall American Horror Story and a spring,” Murphy speculated, adding, “We have to decide.”
Murphy’s announcement of the bounty of new seasons was met with more skepticism than excitement by longtime fans, who feel that the series has already reached its peak, and lost its horror-rich quality in its bid for mass relevance in its most recent seasons.
Season 4 of the series, Freak Show, aired last fall and was met with a fair dose of disdain by Horror Story enthusiasts, who found its star-studded, gimmick-laden lineup cheesy at best, and a sell-out at worst.
A lukewarm review by The Atlantic‘s Lenika Cruz last November sums up a good portion of the latest season’s critical reception: “The real-life horror isn’t in the gore or the deceit but the season’s squandered promise.”
Popular criticisms of the most recent season include its scattered storylines, its watered-down horror content in comparison to earlier seasons, and its reliance on flashy guest stars and musical numbers (à la Neil Patrick Harris cameos) to hike up ratings.
Murphy doesn’t assuage fans’ fears of low quality in the future by noting that he is rushing production on 2016’s potential double-season load, and assigning each project to a completely different group of writers.
“We’re doing something that we’ve never done before on the show where we’re doing two different groups of writers’ rooms,” Murphy told Entertainment Weekly. “Some of our writers will be bouncing around but a whole different group [is] coming in late August. The next thing we’re crafting up is very, very different than this. Not smaller. But just not opulent. More rogue and more dark.”
Of course, on the flipside of American Horror Story‘s poor reviews in the wake of Freak Show is the intrigue stirred up around the series, following its recent transition from smallish cult favorite to FX superstar. Its last season won more Emmy nominations and drew more viewers than any of the previous three seasons.
Season 5, American Horror Story: Hotel, debuts this October 7, and is slated to pick up where Freak Show left off in terms of elaborate guest appearances (Lady Gaga plays the owner of the eponymous hotel, and Glee‘s Darren Criss is set to check in).
The direction of 2016’s seasons will likely depend on the critical reception of Hotel this fall, and, despite American Horror Story‘s dip in longtime fan approval, its commercial success in recent seasons suggests that Hotel might be one of its best yet, at least in terms of revenue and award nominations.
The first three seasons of American Horror Story are available for streaming on Netflix, and American Horror Story: Hotel will premiere on October 7, 2015 on FX.