The outcome of the 2016 presidential election kicks the plot of American Horror Story: Cult into gear, but as it turns out, this would have been true even if Hillary Clinton had defeated Donald Trump.
The show’s creator, Ryan Murphy, recently spoke to The Hollywood Reporter and said that he had the idea of opening Cult with the election result all the way back in September 2016, at which point he was assuming that Hillary Clinton would win. He said that this original opening scene with President-elect Hillary Clinton was “a little different” than the one that ends up playing out in the show.
As this suggests, Ryan Murphy says Cult isn’t necessarily intended to be about Donald Trump. Instead, it’s more about how Americans were so at one another’s throats in the aftermath of the election, something that likely would have been true even if Hillary Clinton had won.
“Our feeling is that everybody lost their sh*t after the election — Republican, Democrat — and everybody’s still losing their sh*t, and nobody’s really figured out from either side where to put those feelings,” Murphy said. “There is no real discussion. Everybody’s still at each other’s throats, you’re either on one side or you’re on the other.”
Murphy also said that in the writer’s room for the show, the discussion was never pro-Hillary and anti-Trump. Instead, it was more about trying to understand why people would vote for any one of the presidential candidates. In addition, Murphy indicated that while his characters do have strong views about Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, that’s not what the season is about.
“It really is about the cult of personality that can rise in a divisive society,” Murphy said “That’s what this show is about. And I hope that people can figure that out.”
American Horror Story: Cult seems to have the goal of examining all sorts of reactions to the 2016 election. Sarah Paulson plays Ally Mayfair-Richards, a woman who is seen in the trailer screaming and crying when Donald Trump is elected. But she is not a stereotypical liberal; according to The Hollywood Reporter, she actually voted for Jill Stein because she couldn’t trust Hillary Clinton.
Some fans of American Horror Story have expressed their displeasure with this season’s focus on politics, especially those who support President Trump. Murphy says that he hopes these people will give the show a chance and realize that it’s not just propagating a liberal point of view.
“They don’t understand that every side on our show gets it just as much,” Murphy says. “The white privilege that Sarah and Alison[‘s characters] deal with is satirical as well.”
American Horror Story: Cult will evidently explore the question of why Trump was elected, with Murphy saying that it was something that shocked him but that in retrospect, he shouldn’t have found it so surprising.
American Horror Story: Cult premieres on September 5 on FX.