It’s hard to believe American Horror Story is already on season 10. Ryan Murphy’s hit FX series debuted in 2011 with Murder House. When that first season aired, we had no idea it was even an anthology show. But as it unfurled, each season got a new theme. As the title implies, the show deals with very American subject matters; the sort of things that have and continue to haunt us. Serial killers, the persecution of women, cults, racism, school shootings, colonization, homophobia, mental institutions, religious fanaticism.
It’s an intense show, but also a very pulpy and fun one. That’s all due to Murphy’s specific touch. And it’s also thanks to his stellar cast, many of whom have been there from the beginning, tackling new roles every season. Murphy really has a knack for ensemble casting, and writing meaty roles. We can see why actors like Sarah Paulson and Evan Peters keep coming back for more. American Horror Story is like repertoire theatre, in a way.
All that’s to say that we’re really itching for the show to come back. And in typical AHS fashion, it’s a long tease to the next premiere. Murphy loves to obscure information and then release it in tantalizing ways. Season 10 is no exception. Thankfully, we’re starting to learn more and more about the new season. With that in mind, we compiled this list of everything we know about season 10 of American Horror Story.
Title reveal + meaning
American Horror Story fans love to speculate about the theme of each upcoming season. Head over to the AHS subreddit before the subtitle reveal, and you’ll see post after post guessing what it might be. In the past, the seasons were a little easier to lay a finger on. Asylum, Coven, Freak Show… fairly standard horror tropes. But then came Roanoke, a season that didn’t reveal its title until the night it premiered. After that experimental season, all bets were off. AHS proved then and there it was ready to think outside the box.
Which brings us to season 10. In the lead up to the title reveal, fans had all sorts of guesses. When Murphy started sharing posters and first glimpses on Instagram, it got people thinking. Would the next season tackle vampires, given that pointy-teeth graphic? Or maybe sirens, due to that beach imagery? On March 19, Murphy finally revealed the title. And it turns out… we’re still sort of confused.
Season 10 is called American Horror Story: Double Feature. As the above teaser explains, this means the season will be split into two parts. “One by the sea… one by the sand.” So, we still don’t know exactly what subject matters this season will cover. But we love that the show is following horror tradition. The title is a nod to old horror programming, that often paired vintage titles together for a theatrical double feature. Murphy even liked the tweet below that highlights this.
The “one by sea, one by sand” tease seems to indicate the double features will be related, too. Both describe a beach setting. And given some other information we know about filming and casting (which we’ll get to in a moment), it makes sense that these stories will bleed into one another in some way.
This is bound to be a big season for American Horror Story fans. Why? Because Double Feature marks the return of Sarah Paulson and Evan Peters, two mainstays of the franchise who didn’t appear at all last season. Murphy announced their return in February 2020, along with the rest of this season’s cast. Other returning players include Lily Rabe, Finn Wittrock, Angelica Ross, Leslie Grossman, Billie Lourd, and Adina Porter. Kathy Bathes was initially set to appear, but had to step away due to COVID-19 concerns.
New to the AHS family this season is Macaulay Culkin, who was also part of that first batch of casting announcements. Murphy said Culkin accepted the role over the phone after he explained the character. “I told him he has crazy, erotic sex with Kathy Bates and does other things,” Murphy said in an interview. “And he paused and he goes, ‘This sounds like the role I was born to play.’ So, he signed up right then and there.” Obviously the Kathy Bates part isn’t happening now, but oh, what might have been.
In 2021, we learned that other American Horror Story alums Frances Conroy and Denis O’Hare will be back this season. They will join new cast member Kaia Gerber (daughter of supermodel Cindy Crawford), who has a lead role.
No word yet on who anyone is playing. On Instagram, Murphy also confirmed that the currently announced cast are just for the “by the sea” segment of the series. So that means even more casting goodies are incoming.
In addition to the pointy teeth poster and beachfront video teases, we’ve also seen a few behind-the-scenes photos. Murphy shared this great shot of Leslie Grossman and Macaulay Culkin on set. Grossman is dressed in a fabulous fur ensemble and Culkin in a heavy coat and vest. At first glance, their outfits look like an odd fit for their location, which appears to be on a beach. However, this photo was taken in March, and as we’ll get to down below, was likely snapped on the East Coast. Meaning they’re appropriate for a wintry beach setting.
Murphy also shared the first official photo of a scene from American Horror Story: Double Feature on Instagram. This one is way more telling. It shows some bald, cloaked figures moving through a misty coastal town at night. They remind us of the Gentlemen from Buffy the Vampire Slayer or even of Nosferatu. Whatever they are, they’re spooky as hell!
One of the cloaked dudes appears to be Spencer Novich, another member of the cast. Murphy shared this video of the actor last November, which shows him contorting his body in strange ways and saying the line, “I’m going to kill you.” No idea what this is meant to imply or who these creepy characters might be, but judging from this video alone, we’re prepared to be extra spooked this year.
As mentioned above, we don’t know anything concrete about the plot just yet, outside of the setting. One interesting thing of note is that the cast filmed scenes in Provincetown, Massachusetts in early March. That’s where Grossman and Culkin are in the photo above. And presumably where the monstrous creatures in that first official photo are, as well. So what’s going on?
Murphy also teased that the eighth episode of American Horror Story: 1984, the previous season, contained a major clue for season 10. Some fans noticed that there’s mention of sea creature myths in that episode, specifically the Loch Ness Monster. So could this season be about sea monsters? (That 1984 episode also referenced aliens… more on that in a bit.)
There are also reports that the code name for this currently filming season is “Pilgrim.” That’s just a placeholder for production, but it could also be a clue. Apocalypse, for instance, used “Radioactive” as a placeholder title. Not the actual title, but still a word that evoked something from that season. (Apocalypse dealt with the detonation of atomic bombs.) So maybe “Pilgrim” is a teaser of sorts. Maybe sea monsters enacting revenge on coastal settlers?
All other plot tidbits are things we’ve gleaned from cast interviews. For instance, Sarah Paulson noted that her character has “some issues” this year, and that she’ll have a hair color she’s never had before, both in real life and on the show. She also said her character has a great name. Lily Rabe said her character is her favorite role she’s played on the show yet, beating out Sister Mary Eunice in Asylum. Angelica Ross said the season is going to be “too scary” for her to watch. She also denied that the season will feature vampires or sirens.
So, no vampires or sirens. (At least not in this season. Or the first half of this season. Elsewhere on social media, Murphy is polling fans about themes they’d like to see, with sirens included in the mix.) But maybe aliens? As hardcore American Horror Story fans know, the second season, Asylum, teased the existence of aliens in the AHS universe. And people want more!
Even though American Horror Story is an anthology series, certain themes and characters and even seasons tend to overlap. Apocalypse brought back the Coven and Monster House characters, for instance. And Sarah Paulson’s Asylum character Lana Winters turns up in other seasons. It’s not uncommon for the show to revisit old storylines, and the alien subplot in Asylum especially felt like a dangling thread.
In a video interview with Harper’s BAZAAR, Paulson teased that aliens might be on the plate this year. “I just think it’s possible, how about that?” she said, before adding “I’m going to get in so much trouble.” Murphy also seemed to imply on Instagram that aliens would be a thing this season. So while they might not be the big bad or main theme of AHS: Double Feature, it seems pretty likely that they’ll factor in somehow.
All we know so far is that American Horror Story: Double Feature will premiere sometime in 2021. The first four seasons premiered in October and the last five in September, so if we had to guess, we’d say to expect this new one sometime this fall.