One episode remains before the series/season finale of American Horror Story: Coven. As is the Murphy way, Ryan Murphy released little pieces of next season’s puzzle bit by bit this week. First he announced that American Horror Story Season 4 is a period piece, and then he told Entertainment Weekly that it’s set in the 1950s. This immediately sent fans into speculation mode. Originally, many fans believed the new season revolved around the circus because of some really good fanart. However, due to the time period this theory seems unlikely. Other popular theories include aliens, Nazis and the cold war. It’s highly unlikely real aliens and Nazis will be the focus of season 4, because Asylum contained both of those subjects, so Murphy would kind of be beating a dead horse if he went there again.
The increasingly popular, and intriguing, theory is American Horror Story: Red Scare. History.com best explains the Red Scare with, “As the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States intensified in the late 1940s and early 1950s, hysteria over the perceived threat posed by Communists in the U.S. became known as the Red Scare. (Communists were often referred to as “Reds” for their allegiance to the red Soviet flag.) The Red Scare led to a range of actions that had a profound and enduring effect on U.S. government and society. Federal employees were analyzed to determine whether they were sufficiently loyal to the government, and the House Un-American Activities Committee, as well as U.S. Senator Joseph R. McCarthy, investigated allegations of subversive elements in the government and the Hollywood film industry. The climate of fear and repression linked to the Red Scare finally began to ease by the late 1950s.”
Some speculators have proposed the idea that the season will likely be on the set of a movie. This makes sense because the Red Scare of the 1950s had a major influence on the film industry. One way it did was the creation of fear among those involved in the film industry because of the Hollywood Blacklist. Anyone believed to be a sympathizers or part of the Communist Party found themselves in prison or permanently unemployed. The second major way the Red Scare influenced the movie industry is it sparked an alien movie craze. Filmmakers used SciFi/alien films to represent the fear of a Communist takeover.
The entire period was greatly influenced by fears, which caused many personal horrors. This makes the topic very appropriate for American Horror Story. And unlike with fantasy horrors-ghosts, witches and aliens-this showcases a real horror that many Americans and foreigners faced while living in America at this period. Eliminating monsters, and focusing solely on the horrors inflicted on humans by humans, creates a very deep sociological level for the season that we haven’t seen since Asylum, and possibly even deeper than that.
American Horror Story: Red Scare seems like a phenomenal idea that Murphy should explore. Each season of American Horror Story has a reflexive quality that puts some of America’s worse acts of cruelty at the forefront, but this would be the first time it bluntly shows that element without the razzle-dazzle of supernatural monsters. So let’s hope the speculation proves true.