TV

"American Horror Story's" 1984 Trailer Looks Like a "Stranger Things" Ripoff

AHS 9 seems to be taking a summery, nostalgic, cliché-filled turn.

AHS's 9th season will be called 1984—the year that's also the title of George Orwell's very famous and disturbingly prescient dystopian novel—and it'll take place at a lakeside oasis called Camp Redwood.

It seems that Ryan Murphy's going for a slightly sunnier depiction of the 1980s than Orwell's surveillance-heavy, totalitarian dystopia, though certainly there will be plenty of blood and gore to sate viewers' hunger for the uncanny in the new AHS season.

Image via AltPress

Some fans already have mixed feelings about this season, as it won't feature many of American Horror Story's most beloved cast members. Sarah Paulson will "not have a significant role," according to Variety, though she may have a cameo or two. Evan Peters and Billy Eichner also won't return. However, the Emma Roberts will be back, almost certainly playing a stuck-up character as always, along with Olympic skier Gus Kenworthy. (Perhaps it's for the best that Peters and Roberts won't have to be on set together, because after a seven-year relationship, the two broke up in March 2019). The show will also feature Billie Lourd, Cody Fern, John Carroll Lynch, Leslie Grossman, and Matthew Morrison (of Glee notoriety), as well as a bunch of overzealous teenagers who are impossible to tell apart, at least judging by the trailer's first few frames.

Considering all this, it looks like AHS is either getting desperate or going fully meta. With 1984, they're capitalizing on some of the oldest horror tropes in the book—ripping off Anna Wintour, Friday the 13th, and Orwell's titlebut the trailer doesn't suggest a resurgence of any of the elegance or intelligence that made the show's first few seasons so bone-chillingly good. While Murder House, Asylum, and Coven were incredibly timely, due to the way they deftly threaded topics like school shooters, mental illness, queerness, and feminism into hackneyed horror tropes, it's hard to see how 1984 will replicate the raw ambition and timely acuity of those seasons.

Instead, the show seems to be going for a, well, campy approach, one that makes fun of poorly made '80s B-movies and their perpetually masked, knife-wielding killers. Knowing AHS, there will be some hyper-serious, dramatic undercurrent woven throughout the whole thing; it'll either all be a movie set a la Roanoke or a hyper-realistic hallucination, or perhaps another commentary on the state of American politics or the gleeful clichés of '80s horror; but it's hard to imagine that the entire season could be a parody. Still, in this day and age, sometimes parody feels like one of the most intelligent and realistic forms of media, for at least it's self-aware of its own bullshit. If it is all a parody, then 1984 could be a complete disaster or (by some miracle) AHS's best work in years.

AHS goes 80sImage via Screen Rant

One other thing we know about 1984 is that it won't be American Horror Story's last season. Maybe it should be; since Coven, none of the seasons have lived up to the expectations set by the first three. While many of the concepts have been creative and impressive, the show has favored excessive gore and absurd, unrealistic, and hollow characters, foregoing the nuanced, flawed complexity of characters like Murder House's Tate Langdon and Asylum's Sister Jude. With Peters and Lange not returning, hopefully some of the new cast members will be able to carry the show as these actors did, but that seems unlikely given the fact that the writers seem to be creating simpler (and more annoying) characters each season.

As far as 1984 goes, it seems that we'll be taking a deep dive down the nostalgic path paved by Stranger Things, with a bit of the sunny hysteria of Midsommar to boot, though with fewer neon lights and flowers and lots more blood. Most likely, there will be murders in cabins and by campfires, murders on a lake, and murderers on the loose in the pines. It's hard to know if AHS will be able to exchange some of its reliance on shock value and for its initially spellbinding, supernatural magic, but time will tell.

American Horror Story Season 9 "Camp" Teaser Promo (HD) AHS 1984 www.youtube.com


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MUSIC

Hear Ingrid Michaelson's New Stranger-Things Inspired Single, "Missing You"

Ingrid Michaelson has released the first track off of her 'Stranger Things'-inspired album, along with a Pac Man-themed lyric video.

Does Netflix's Stranger Things make you feel like you're wrapped in a blanket of sweet memories of the 1980s suburban youth you never had?

You're not alone—Ingrid Michaelson feels the same way, and she's written a whole album about it.

Today, Michaelson released the first track off of her Stranger Things-inspired LP, Stranger Songs. "Missing You" borrows muffled synth-driven arpeggiations from the show's theme music, and layers her crystal-clear vocal tones high above them.

Lyrically, the song—which is a reference to the character Nancy and her fraught love triangle with moody dreamboat Jonathan and popular, pure-hearted Steve—offers the kind of complex portrayal of romantic tension that Michaelson has always been an expert at painting in her music. "When he's kissing me I'm missing you," she sings. "I'm in his bed feeling like a stranger."

Ingrid Michaelson - Missing You (Official Lyric Video) www.youtube.com

With its 80s-style beat and grainy bassline, "Missing You" is a euphoric and sugar-sweet song that could easily soundtrack a triumphant bike ride in a Stranger Things final scene, just after Eleven has returned to sweep Mike off his feet and save all of Hawkins.

Michaelson's music has received widespread critical success; two of her singles have gone platinum, and all seven of her albums were released on her own record label, Cabin 24. But after the release of her last album, she found herself seeking inspiration—and discovered it unexpectedly in Netflix's smash-hit show about parallel dimensions and glowing Christmas lights.

Ingrid Michaelson via the Wall Street Journal

All in all, her music is a natural match for Stranger Things' softly lit nostalgia. "I've already made seven records, I have a lot to say. But I've said it so much from the brain and mind and soul of Ingrid Michaelson—I wanted to create something through a different lens," the musician stated. "There's something about Stranger Things that's really comforting, it brings me back to my childhood. It's the best kind of escapism and I find myself seeking that now more than ever. I took inspiration from the show and the characters and all these ideas started to come to me. Every song on the record includes a reference from the show, some more specific than others, but all of the themes are universal—these are feelings everyone has."

Regarding her love of the show, she told Entertainment Weekly, "I've always longed to re-live childhood memories. There's no word in the English language to describe what it is that I'm feeling. But it goes deeper than nostalgia — this desire to quite literally be able to go back in time and re-live those moments again because the memories are so wonderful and wrap you up with a warm feeling."

Stranger Things isn't the only beloved work of escapism that Michaelson will be lending her ear and lyrical sensibilities to in the near future. She has also written the score for a musical adaption of The Notebook, and the first performances will debut in Poughkeepsie, New York this July at Vassar College (the same place Lin-Manuel Miranda debuted his Hamilton Mixtape way back in 2013).

Ingrid Michaelson Reveals She's Working On 'The Notebook' Musical | TODAY www.youtube.com

Both The Notebook and Stranger Things are portals into magical, dreamlike worlds of passion, nostalgia, and parallel dimensions. With her penchant for spinning reality into perfect rhymes and whimsical melodies, Michaelson seems like one of the best people around to turn both of them into song.


Eden Arielle Gordon is a writer and musician from New York. Follow her on Twitter @edenarielmusic.


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