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Fans Have A Wild Theory About American Horror Stories' Season 1 Finale

By now it's no secret that "American Horror Stories" left many fans of the original "American Horror Story" cold. The spin-off series garnered a disappointing 37% audience approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and critical feedback from fans has been an almost universal thumbs down.

It is a concerning development for sure, particularly considering the amount of fan acclaim garnered by the first several seasons of "AHS," not to mention the number of awards won by its stars over the years. Taking it all into consideration, it seems that this once-formidable, well-crafted, and thrilling anthology series now has all the creepiness of a cheap Halloween decoration. But there is one fan theory about "American Horror Stories," the spin-off series of one-off stories, that presents a particularly unflattering picture of the creators and executive producers.

The theory involves "Game Over," the finale of "Stories" Season 1. If you've watched it, then you already know that the episode is, as chronicled by Vanity Fair's Andrea Reiher, extremely meta. The whole episode revolves around a video game that takes place in the iconic Murder House from Season 1 of "AHS" — already revisited in both "AHS: Apocalypse" and the two-part premiere of "Stories." The game is designed by Michelle (Mercedes Mason), in an effort to bond with her "AHS" superfan son Rory (Nicholas Bechtel). From there, viewers are subjected to a litany of callbacks, mash-ups, and apparent violations of "AHS" canon.

Some fans think Game Over is Murphy and Falchuk mocking them

"After giving 'Game Over' some thought," writes redditor u/Icy-Idea-5079 in the "AHS" subreddit, "I've come to the conclusion that this is purely Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk mocking the fans and sending a message." u/HardcoreKaraoke agreed, writing that they were at first tentatively on board with the episode's premise, but quickly jumped ship: "Then they smashed the fourth wall, mocked fans and basically spent 40 minutes making little to no sense. It was so bad." Other commenters agreed with the theory that the new spinoff series was the co-creators' love it or leave it approach to past fan criticism. In particular, u/SobbingInCali suggests that Rory's eventual hatred of Murder House and decision to burn it is a direct response to complaints about too many stories set at the ill-fated abode. 

"AHS" fans' disillusionment with Falchuk and Murphy's spooky universe is well-documented. There is a steadily increasing frustration regarding the direction of the original anthology series. For years, fans have complained about the writing, about the tendency of seasons to drag on, and have described the show as simply not scary. David Opie at Digital Spy tried to reframe how the show is watched, posing the generous question of whether both "AHS" and "Stories" are intended to be less scary and more campy. 

Fans don't seem to be buying it. On another r/AmericanHorrorStory thread, u/man_with_no_nation insists that "Game Over" is "Not meta, not camp, not funny. Season finale of AHStories is just bad." They also agree with the mocking theory.

Is this Murphy's way of pushing back against criticism?

If the Redditors and other fans are right, then why mock "American Horror Story" fans so overtly? For at least one viewer, the theorized mockery totally worked. "The whole final episode was amazing," wrote u/dogmaticequation "BECAUSE it was a full-on troll of the fandom, especially the obsessively toxic part of it."

It is difficult to imagine that Murphy, and Falchuk, aren't aware of such criticism. Season 10 of "AHS" seemed to address a common complaint about seasons' length by splitting it into two stories. But then again, The Wrap confirmed that Season 11 will abandon this format. In this light, "Game Over" could be less mockery and more a tongue-in-cheek response to fan criticism — or even a wink-wink-nudge-nudge about the overall future of "AHS."

Back in 2019, Murphy told EW that Murder House was his top pick for his all-time favorite "AHS" stories. He even dropped a truly revealing tidbit that could hint at why he sent the place up in flames so many years after its debut. Speaking about his pitch for the original anthology series, which would start over each season with entirely new characters, sets, and plots, Murphy said an astonished studio exec replied, "Wait a minute...you're going to burn down the sets every year and start over every season?" Could the fiery end of Murder House simply have been just a signal that Murphy is finally ready to let go of his beloved storyline that started it all?

Are these winks and nods from Murphy and Falchuk? Or are the creators simply thumbing their nose at fans? For better or worse, we'll have a second season of "American Horror Stories" to figure it out.