There had been rumors, sure. The new season of every popular television show generates rumors. After all, fans love to dream that their version of the show will somehow make its way to the screen. But in truth, no one could say with any real certainty where the fourth season of American Horror Story was headed.

That is until writer Douglas Petrie, let it slip to a podcast: that the upcoming season of the highly beloved FX horror series was to take place in a carnival setting.

American Horror Story is a program that, while defined as an “anthology series,” has achieved some popularity at least partially through actor/actress continuity. Figures like Jessica Lange, Taissa Farmiga and Sarah Paulson have all appeared and reappeared on multiple seasons, “stimulating” the AHS fandom with a sense of “What/who will they play next? Will they be on next season?” The presence of these women is, in a certain sense, like a never-ending whodunit. The primary difference being that the narrative of each season changes and so does their character. New AHS fans will not understand the connections from one season to the next by the reuse of a particular actor/actress, but they may still watch the season.

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However, for dedicated American Horror Story fans? They remember each person’s story and history, every time. They reap the benefits. While this may indeed be an anthology series, it is also a highly socially engaging television show.

While these individuals may change characters each season, this show has managed to work its way through a haunted house (season 1: Murder House), a mental asylum (season 2: Asylum) and voodoo and occult practices (season 3: Coven). So it was not surprising that, at the end of season three, the big question was, where could this dark piece of television travel that it had not gone before and still remain creative and true to the American Horror Story fans?

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Since it has only been a few tender months since the completion of season three, they are really not telling us much (and rightly so- do we really want to know the dark secrets of a show that is built on surprise and creepiness?). What we do know so far does seem to be in line with the rest of the series- it is going to be crazy and bizarre with that stream of dark humor that is just so very outlandish and gruesome but slightly attractive. This, set in a carnival environment, with freaks and geeks is sure to be interesting.

However, this fourth season will also sadly be Jessica Lange’s last with the show. She has won various awards for her American Horror Show work, so she’s certainly not going home empty handed, but she will be missed. However, she’s not going out without a bang. Co-creator Ryan Murphy et it slip that for season four, Miss Jessica would be playing a “Marlene Dietrich figure…[and she] has already started practicing her German accent…”

Marlene at the Carnival? I’ll buy a ticket then. For the whole season.

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