Is “American Horror Story” based on real events? The possibility that the spooky FX series is based on true happenings is one of the things that enthralls viewers.
Season 6, specifically, has allured viewers because of it’s theme: “My Roanoke Nightmare.” The folklore of Roanoke’s Lost Colony is well known, but the mystery remains unsolved.
Anna B. Creagh, executive vice president at Western States Folklore Society in Calfornia, said “people have always been attracted to folk narrative,” during an email interview with International Business Times Monday.
“People are attracted to the idea of the supernatural in the mundane. Things like moving to a new house, going to a hospital-- or a circus, or a hotel-- are experiences we can all relate to, yet there's something titillating about thinking that we don't understand everything about those places,” Creagh said, referencing past seasons of “American Horror Story.” “Add to that the site-specific nature of the show (always set in a particular city), and you get the opportunity to embellish the narrative with local lore, which provides the story with an air of authenticity.”
The unknown nature of supernatural phenomena is what attracts its fans. “These are things we cannot prove with science… yet which nag at our subconscious. The idea that these stories are ‘real’ makes them all the more fascinating, which is one reason ‘AHS’ story creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk prefer to take inspiration from local legends and other forms of folklore,” Creagh said.
Only two episodes of Season 6 of “American Horror Story” have aired so far, but Creagh predicts the KKK will play a major role in coming episodes. There have been several references to the white supremacist organization so far this season.
The KKK “is scarier than anything associated with the Lost Colony, the Devil's tramping ground, or any of the other folkloric references I've noticed in the show so far,” Creagh said. “That's because we know the KKK is still around...a symbol of our (shameful) past that we can't shake, that today -- even or especially in the age of President Barack Obama -- threatens to take us back to that dark part of our history. The show forces us to remember those times, and terrifies us with the thought that they are much closer than we want to think.”
There's another haunting element in Season 6: The word “Croatoan.” The moniker has appeared in leaked pictures from the “American Horror Story” set, but, according to folk lore, it was the only thing left behind by Roanoke’s Lost Colony from the 16th century. When explorer Sir Walter Raleigh returned to the North Carolina island, there were no signs of the early settlers. Even their bodies had vanished. The mystery remains unsolved today.
The theme of Season 6 was first referenced in Season 1: “Murder House.” Sarah Paulson’s character Billie Dean recounts the mystery of Roanoke.
“In 1590, on the coast of what we now know as North Carolina, the entire colony of Roanoke—all 117 men, women, and children—died inexplicably. It became known as the ghost colony because the spirits remained,” she explained. “They haunted the native tribes living in the surrounding areas. Killing indiscriminately. The elder knew he had to act. He cast a banishment curse. First he collected the personal belongings of all the dead colonists. Then they burned them. The ghosts appeared, summoned by their talismans. But before the spirits could cause them any more harm, the elder completed the curse that would banish the ghosts forever. By uttering a single word. The same word found carved on a post at the abandoned colony. ‘Croatoan.’”
Season 6 of “American Horror Story: My Roanoke Nightmare” airs at 10 p.m. EDT Wednesday on FX.
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