For the first time in five seasons, Kathy Bates will not make an appearance in American Horror Story. Her decision to pass on AHS: Cult was reportedly little more than a scheduling conflict, her new Netflix series, Disjointed, taking priority. Still, Bates' absence will be a blow to the show's seventh season. After all, it was she who took over as AHS matriarch when Jessica Lange moved on.
Long-time fans of the anthology series understand how important Bates' performances have been throughout the show's history. After her series entry as Coven's grotesque Madame Delphine LaLaurie and her follow-up role as loving yet troubled mother Ethel Darling in Freak Show, she played Hotel clerk Iris in Season 5 and terrifying Agnes Mary Winstead in Roanoke.
Lange, who departed after Season 4's Freak Show, was irreplaceable, but if anyone could lessen the blow of her vacancy, it was Bates.
Thankfully, AHS: Cult will feature a number of series regulars, including Sarah Paulson and Evan Peters. It will also include exciting newcomers like Billie Lourd, Billy Eichner, and Colton Haynes, while bringing back frequently appearing stars like Emma Roberts and Mare Winningham.
Cult is arguably the most enticing theme since Freak Show, simple yet horrifying given the word's connotation and the dark history of cults in the United States. Previously released teasers and art for the season suggest clowns and bees will have major presences, capitalizing on two of the most common phobias in the world.
Bates and Lange may be no-shows, but for these reasons alone, we'll be watching. Let's just hope we don't have another Roanoke on our hands...
American Horror Story: Cult premieres Sept. 5, 2017 on FX.