The new season of American Horror Story is upon us, and once again Ryan Murphy's traveling band of regulars are back to scare the hell out of us. This season will be presented somewhat differently, with a two-part season titled Double Feature. The first half of the season, called "Red Tide," is set in the beach community of Provincetown, Massachusetts, and while details are, as usual, hard to come by, the trailer suggests that some kind of Faustian bargain and bloodthirsty creatures are in the offing.
This season notably sees the return of Sarah Paulson and Evan Peters, who both sat out the most recent season, "1984." Who's joining them to scare up some Ryan Murphy excess? Let's take a look.
American Horror Story: Double Feature marks Finn Wittrock's fifth appearance in the franchise, having made his debut as Dandy Mott in "Freak Show" in 2014. Before that, Wittrock appeared on All My Children from 2009-2011 and was cast by Ryan Murphy in his 2014 HBO film version of The Normal Heart. He's been Emmy nominated twice, for his performances in "Freak Show" and The Assassination of Gianni Versace. In "Red Tide," Wittrock plays Harry Gardener a writer, husband, and soon-to-be father who moves to Provincetown with his wife where he has to fight through his writer's block.
Lily Rabe has been on the American Horror Story train from the start, appearing in the very first season ("Murder House") and starring as a regular on "Asylum," "Coven," and "Roanoke," and as a guest on "Freak Show" (as her "Asylum" character Sister Mary Eunice), "Hotel," "Apocalypse" (as her "Coven" character Misty Day), and "1984." Rabe, the daughter of playwright David Rabe and the late actress Jill Clayburgh, also starred in the HBO film The Wizard of Lies and the recent miniseries The Undoing. She plays Doris Gardener in "Red Tide," Harry's pregnant wife who tries to build a home for their family in Provincetown.
Sarah Paulson is the great veteran of the Ryan Murphy universe, and she's been around for nearly every single season of AHS. After appearing as a guest in "Murder House," Paulson was a main player in "Asylum," "Coven," "Freak Show," "Hotel," "Roanoke," "Cult," and "Apocalypse." She won an Emmy award for her performance as Marcia Clark on The People vs. O.J. Simpson, and she recently starred in the TV series Mrs. America and in the title role in Ratched. In "Red Tide," she plays the mysterious TB Karen, who appears to be incredibly distressed in the trailer, where she's running away from an encroaching … something.
"Red Tide" marks Peters' return to the American Horror Story franchise after skipping 1984. Prior to that, Peters had appeared as a main character in every previous iteration of the series. Peters has also appeared in the X-Men series as Quicksilver and in the first season of the Ryan Murphy-produced Pose. Peters has had an incredibly productive 2021, starring in a buzzy role on Disney+'s WandaVision and earning an Emmy nomination for his role as Detective Colin Zabel on Mare of Easttown. In "Red Tide" he plays a Provincetown resident and music composer who's found the secret to success and wants to pass it on to Harry.
Stage and screen veteran Frances Conroy got the breakthrough role of her career in 2001 as matriarch Ruth Fisher on Six Feet Under, apart for which she earned a Golden Globe Award and four Emmy nominations. Conroy has been a main cast member on the "Murder House," "Coven," "Freak Show," and "Apocalypse" seasons. Her "Red Tide" role as Belle Noir sees her playing a mysterious Provincetown resident who appears to be offering Harry a temptation to quick success.
While Angelica Ross's character in "Red Tide" doesn't say anything in the show's trailer, she certainly seems to be playing a pivotal role as "The Chemist," tinkering with some kind of pill that may end up being both the key to unlocking Harry's writers block but also having something to do with the bald-headed, demon-looking creatures who are the trailer. This is Ross's second American Horror Story season, after starring as Donna Chambers in "1984." Prior to that, Ross enjoyed a breakthrough role on Pose as Candy Ferocity.
Leslie Grossman is a longtime veteran of the Ryan Murphy universe, having starred as high--school southern belle/maniac on Murphy's very first series, Popular. Her first season of American Horror Story was "Cult," and she's since starred as a main cast member on both "Apocalypse" and "1984." Grossman also starred on the WB series What I Like About You, played Kristen Bell's mother on The Good Place, and recently had a recurring role on Love, Victor. On "Red Tide," Grossman's Ursula seems determined to get to the bottom of whatever weirdness is happening in P-town.
Famous former child star Macaulay Culkin is making his first appearance in a Ryan Murphy production as Mickey, whose character appears to be either in a relationship or otherwise paired up with Ursula. Culkin was of course a huge star at a very young age after the massive success of Home Alone. He also starred in such films as My Girl, Richie Rich, and The Good Son. As a teen, he appeared in the indie comedy Saved, and his most recent major TV appearance was in a recurring role on the short-lived NBC series Kings.
Billie Lourd's role as Lark on "Red Tide" is somewhat mysterious, but she doesn't seem to be up to a lot of good from the one (quite blurry!) shot we see of her in the trailer, fixing to take a dental drill to Harry's teeth. This is her fourth American Horror Story season, having previously been a main character on "Cult," "Apocalypse," and "1984." Prior to that, she starred in Ryan Murphy's Scream Queens. Lourd also starred in Booksmart and had a minor role in the most recent Star Wars trilogy, opposite her mother, the late Carrie Fisher.
Longtime Ryan Murphy veteran Denis O'Hare appears in the "Red Tide" trailer as he comes across a horrifying discovery on the beach. This will be O'Hare's sixth role in an American Horror Story season, having previously appeared in "Murder House" (for which he was Emmy nominated), "Coven," "Freak Show" (another Emmy nomination), "Hotel," and "Roanoke." In 2003, O'Hare won a Tony Award for his performance in the play Take Me Out.
American Horror Story: Double Feature debuts August 25th. The show's ten episode season will air on FX weekly on Wednesday nights at 10:00 PM ET, and will be available to stream the next morning on Hulu.
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Joe Reid is the senior writer at Primetimer and co-host of the This Had Oscar Buzz podcast. His work has appeared in Decider, NPR, HuffPost, The Atlantic, Slate, Polygon, Vanity Fair, Vulture, The A.V. Club and more.
TOPICS: American Horror Story: Double Feature, Angelica Ross, Billie Lourd, Denis O'Hare, Evan Peters, Finn Wittrock, Frances Conroy, Leslie Grossman, Lily Rabe, Macaulay Culkin, Ryan Murphy, Sarah Paulson