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'American Horror Story: Cult' Butchers Political Theme

social issues


Boston University


- experimental

'American Horror Story: Cult' Butchers Political Theme

A recap on the first episode of the usually chilling show.

Izzy Raye


I remember when American Horror Story aired for the first time in 2011. Ryan Murphy, hot off his success from creating and producing Glee, promised the public a new way to showcase horror. This new anthology series would modernize the genre, and bring it into the mainstream.

The first season, of the show was saturated with terrifying jump scares, twisted dark humor, and graphic murder. So while it’s slightly concerning that I now expect to see at least two murders and one brutal form of torture by the end of an episode, that doesn’t diminish my disappointment with last night’s premiere.


Whoops, wrong show.

Let’s go over the plot of the episode real fast. We’re introduced to Ally Mayfair-Richards and her wife, Ivy, as they experience the fear that many Americans did on election night. We then get a glimpse of the opposite reaction when we meet Evan Peters’s character, Kai Anderson. He then puts Cheetos all over his face and tries to scare his distraught sister, Winter played by Billie Lourd.

The episode continues with Ally trying to deal with her resurfacing phobias, Kai trying to enact chaos, Winter showing Ally’s son videos of people being stabbed, and a plethora of other weird shit, while the show completely forgets about the election plot.

I’m confused about a couple of things. First is the promise that American Horror Story's seasons were all promised to overlap and have to do with one another. This season just seems like a sloppily thrown together commentary on the state of the country. It’s as though Murphy wanted to say something, and decided to do so by sabotaging the integrity of a once groundbreaking show.

While it’s definitely important to be talking about what Trump's doing wrong in office, the “on the nose” nature of this season almost makes it seem like a spoof of our own reality. Maybe that’s what Murphy was going for, but there’s something unsettling about this idea.

In the beginning of the episode, Winter mentions how she worked all year on Hillary’s campaign. Yet, when her brother asks her to babysit Ally and Ivy’s son, she shows him videos of murders on the Dark Web, which is very contradictory to the foreseen political theme.

If Winter initially wanted Hillary to win, why is she helping her brother initiate chaos? During a conversation between Kai and Winter, Kai claims that he knows she wants the people who voted for Trump dead. Does portraying Hillary supporters in this way say that we should be scared of them?

The two main examples of “liberals" in this season are Ally, a woman constantly having nervous breakdowns and possible hallucinations, and Winter, a seemingly pro-violence crazy teenager. What does that say about the real life people they’re claiming to represent? The show’s main plot cannot obviously be unfolded within the first episode, but if these two characters don’t somehow avenge themselves, I will have even more problems with the show than I do now.

The show’s aim did not seem well developed or clear to me from this premiere episode. We have Ally, who is being randomly attacked by clowns and being told she isn’t giving her wife enough orgasms. We have Kai, who is promoting a society that strives on chaos. And of course, we have the overarching uncertainty of what an America run by Trump will look like... and this makes no sense.

With all that’s in the news today, we expect our media to take us away from all the horrors of our own reality. Maybe if the president’s name had been different or the era skewed, the premise of this episode would have commented nicely on what we’re going through right now. Instead, the whole thing just felt like overkill and a missed opportunity.

With a president like Trump, and all he’s tried to take away, it’s so important to create art, and that is what this show used to be. We shouldn’t be giving him the satisfaction of basing an entire television season off his idiotic decisions.