From the start, American Horror Story Season 6 has been different than all of the other seasons that preceded it. Episodes had already begun to air before the theme of the year became apparent and instead of the standard narrative, the show introduced a brand new framing device with narrators who were the definition of unreliable. Then in the middle of the season it pivoted away from the story it had been telling all along to tell a new tale. Very little has been the same about Season 6 – aside from the actors and the bonkers storytelling, of course – but one thing in particular has been conspicuously missing. Why doesn't AHS: Roanoke have opening credits?
The opening credits of AHS have become a huge part of the show's DNA. The themes and characters change every year, but the credits are a mainstay: though there are tweaks to the music and visuals, they carry over season to season. Sometimes they provide clever, little hints of things to come, but mostly they set the stage for all the unsettling events about to unfold. That discordant, almost screeching theme song is integral to the show. But it's been missing for the entirety of the sixth season.
So far this season, the credits have been replaced by a single title card stating either the name of the show, or the title of whichever docu-series is the focus that week: My Roanoke Nightmare or Return to Roanoke: Three Days in Hell. That seems like the clearest reason why the credits have been MIA: there are no credits for American Horror Story because we're not watching American Horror Story. We're watching My Roanoke Nightmare, or its sequel. All the scenes have been interviews, reenactments, or found footage. While My Roanoke Nightmare exists within the AHS universe, it is not actually AHS.
When the season premiered without an opening credit sequence, many assumed that it would be back once the show had finished with My Roanoke Nightmare. Instead, the season merely traded in one documentary for another, and once again neglected its usual trappings. It raises a few questions, like: do we even really know this year's theme? It's been billed as AHS: Roanoke by FX, but that has yet to appear as the title in one of the episodes; the guide on my television still refers to it as AHS: 6.
When Sidney James, the producer of both Roanoke shows, is describing his new project to executives at the network, he says that it's "familiar, but it's different." That encapsulates this season of AHS perfectly. It looks and feels like the same show, but there are lots of things about it that have changed. The lack of opening credits is another symptom of that and something we may have to go without for the duration of the season.