The long-awaited seventh season of American Horror Story premiered on Tuesday, Sept. 5. After a lot of cagey discussion surrounding the subject matter, we finally learned how American Horror Story: Cult is connected to the 2016 presidential election — and the ties are even more obvious than we thought.
The first episode alone has garnered a lot of mixed reactions from fans and critics, so we’re definitely in for a rollercoaster ride in the coming weeks. Here’s what we learned from the Cult season premiere.
There’s a strong message here
Ryan Murphy has employed some subtlety in the past with his horror story metaphors, but all of that appears to be gone now. As he told The Hollywood Reporter, the season “really is about the cult of personality that can rise in a divisive society … And I hope that people can figure that out.”
In other words, it’s not about Donald Trump, it’s about the people who have come out of the woodwork since he was elected. Indeed, the mysterious promos for Season 7 support this. Specifically, the swarm of bees, which are representative of the “hive mind.” As for the clowns, well …
What’s with all of the clowns?
This was the major question going into the season premiere. From the title, we could deduce there would be a cult involved, but is it one that worships clowns?
Again, there was no subtlety here in the first episode — there are clowns everywhere. They’re apparently out to get Ally (Sarah Paulson’s character), who clearly has more than just a casual fear of them and is deemed to be hallucinating (at this point, who knows?). It looks like her son shares that same mixed feeling of fear and fascination, meaning the nightmare is only just beginning for this family.
The guilt of Green Party voters
One thing many have discussed after Trump was elected is the issue of third-party candidates. Those who voted for the likes of Jill Stein or Gary Johnson (and admitted to it) were later disparaged by others who blamed them for taking away votes from Hillary Clinton, especially in swing states like Michigan.
This issue is addressed when Ally asks her wife, Ivy, to forgive her for her choice in the voting booth. “But Jill Stein?” Ivy questions, after Ally relays an all too familiar message: “[A]s much as I hate him [Trump], I didn’t trust her [Clinton].”
There’s nothing supernatural going on
Other than the possible hallucinations, this season of AHS seems bound to reality. Which is likely what makes it so scary, “and grounded,” according to Murphy.
As he told THR, “People are talking about this and living it, and just, sort of, to make it look extreme would be wrong. I think that we’ve been very careful to be fair.”
It makes political commentary on both sides
Because of AHS‘ content, Murphy has received a lot of backlash over the years. But he stresses that Cult is a satire of both conservatives and liberals. Murphy specifically refers to Ally and Ivy, whose suburban white privilege is mocked a bit.
Another example comes in the form of Kai’s sister, Winter. The character, who worked on Clinton’s campaign, speaks to her friend on the phone, calling out news network CNN for not displaying a “trigger warning” when announcing the result of the election.
But it’s still going to get a lot of hate
Regardless of what Murphy says, there will always be people who see his perspective as anti-Trump. And this isn’t the only reason some don’t like Cult.
Jenna Scherer writes in her review for Rolling Stone that the “dump, ugly, blunt” season is a “missed opportunity” and “a misaimed kick in the gut when we’re already down on the ground.” Kaitlyn Tiffany at The Verge calls it “alluring,” but also “trash” and “the purest form of vapid entertainment.”
What’s to come?
From the promo above, it looks like things are only going to get worse for Ally and her family on Cult. And Kai and his cults (Evan Peters is going to be playing several different cult leaders) are a big part of that.
As Ally descends into madness, she interacts with Kai and Winter (whose allegiance is TBD), as well as Billy Eichner and Leslie Grossman of … the Nicole Kidman fan club? Hopefully, we can just avoid another bizarre Trump impression, like that Kai-covered-in-Cheetos-dust moment.
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