American Horror Story is a supernatural mini-series/anthology that came out in 2011 premiering on the FX network. The program averages 10.5 million viewers across all platforms according to the past seasons viewership that ended in January 2016. Having themes including Murder House, Asylum, Coven, Freak Show and most recently Hotel the show has acquired a very large, eclectic fan base throughout the years.
Montclair State University senior Stephanie Pitera has been following the series since the very beginning. “I’ve watched almost every season of American Horror Story and I continue to watch because every season is so different. My favorite season so far has been the first season, which was Murder House, because not only was it was simple, it was also scary and captivating. So whatever they end up doing this season, I hope they keep it simple. Seasons like Freak Show and Asylum were too complicated and busy and didn’t have much of a core plot.”
Like clockwork when a season ends, (or even before) speculations begin about the next season’s theme. This year, Slender Man is at the top of everyone’s list after creator Ryan Murphy teased season 6 will include elements of children: “If you look at horror tropes, the innocence of children, that sort of wide-eyed entryway into some world is always very dramatic and satisfying.”
A picture of Slender Man surfaced in 2009 on a Something Awful forum by user Victor Surge. He claims while out in the woods he saw a figure that he then christened Slender Man, who is now an Internet personage. Depicted as an incredibly tall, thin, pale man with no face wearing a black suit, he has become a supernatural force that has proven to have the elements to haunt people’s dreams.
“I’ve heard rumors that the new season of American Horror Story is going to be about Slender Man, which would be absolutely terrifying. It would be really cool to see Ryan Murphy’s take on the story. I would love to see the Slender Man rumors come to life next season,” Pitera states.
Coined as the Internet age’s boogeyman, this character is known for sulking around in the darkness of the woods that stalks and snatches children. No one knows for sure what the character does after the abduction, but the children are never known to come back.
The character began to grow a cult following almost instantly. YouTube videos were made predominantly about sightings; satire and Slender Man themed serials were very popular accumulating over 55 million views fairly quickly. Art, literature, and Cosplay have also been made to revolve around the character. In 2012, a video game was made and the website soon crashed because of the demand to download. It even got to the point where readers became incredibly violent to support this fictional character, including two twelve-year-olds stabbing a classmate 19 times to become representations of Slender Man.
Slender Man has now stepped in as the new boogeyman and people are terrified even seven years later his materialization. The representation of this figure is so vague which may also add to the fear. Many leave it to their imagination what he is capable of. Pitera explains what it was like when Slender Man originated: “When I was a teenager, that character was one thing on the Internet that genuinely terrified me, so I think it would be really great as a full season. I watched a YouTube video on Slender Man and I could not sleep for a week.” If Slender Man is chosen as a theme in season 6, it’s safe to assume many will be content with that choice.
American Horror Story is popularly known for their risky creative choices. When rumors started flying around about Slender Man being the theme, being a fan it is very doubtful that would be the only unnerving aspect of the show. Already dipping into vampires and ghosts in Hotel, aliens and serial killers in Asylum, witches, and Frankenstein monsters in Coven and homicidal ghosts and unraveled people in Murder House, many think that werewolves are going to eventually enter the mix as well.
Every year, every aspect of upcoming seasons is under lock and key. As an audience, we have no idea what the theme is, which actors are coming back, what year it could possibly be set in, or even when the new season will start. Rumors and theories will continue to emerge even after Ryan Murphy announces the theme for season 6 of American Horror Story and quite possibly after that for years to come.