American Horror Story Season 6 may not have built up its premise going in, but the first five episodes made a solid case for exploring Roanoke’s meta-twist further. That is, until Season 6 pivoted into an even more fourth-wall breaking format, of which Ryan Murphy now explains “we realized … there were no stakes.”

You’re warned of full spoilers for the sixth season of American Horror Story from here on out, but where the first half of Season 6 followed a My Roanoke Nightmare reenactment of the “real” Matt, Shelby and Lee’s experiences, the second half reunited actors and their real-life counterparts for another stay in the murderous property. Our understanding now is that all but one of the reunion show’s participants will end up dying, of which Murphy told E! Online of his interest in dissecting reality TV:

We realized in doing a horror show as a reality show, as did everyone watching, that there were no stakes because we know they survive they leave the house. Everybody’s seen that episode where Shelby and Matt get into their car and they race off and that’s the end.

But no, no, no, no, no. We are giving you stakes. What I love now is everybody’s in the house and they all think it’s fun and games, and then we are told that every single one of them dies except one person. So the next four episodes, we are figuring out, OK, who’s the one person who’s going to make it out alive? And what are they going to do to do payback against a network that put them all in a situation where they all are going to be killed? So it kind of was and is a commentary on social reality television because I do feel like that is the next level where something really bad is, somebody’s going to die for the sake of real TV.

Not only that, but Murphy likened the harrowing format to his prior experience with The Glee Project reality competition:

I’m a really big fan of reality television and I always have been. I’ve always been asked to do a reality show, and I kind of did with The Glee Project which was interesting. It wasn’t my favorite thing that I’ve done to have to be the bad guy. But I love the form and I watch a lot of it. There’s that great movie Network by Paddy Chayefsky —where everything that he wrote in 1975 came true. This is sort of our tribute to that and also wanted to take it further in a way.

Producers have previously stated that the tenth and final hour of the season will also serve as its own sort of epilogue to the season, while Roanoke will continually lay groundwork for some major connections to past Horror Story iterations.

You can check out the latest “Chapter 7” trailer below, but has Murphy’s shifting reality premise reinvigorated the series?

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