American Horror Story: Cult finally premiered on Tuesday and people are loving it. Reviews of the seventh installment of Ryn Murphy’s anthology consider the new season of the show one of the best ever made.
Recently, the series creator opened up about what to expect of the show and its portrayal of politics.
Join the cult of AHS
After much anticipation, ‘American Horror Story: Cult’ finally debuted on Tuesday, and it definitely delivered. The series opens on the night of the election; a pivotal, propulsive moment.
Glued to the election coverage, alternating between disbelief and horror, we meet Ally, played by Sarah Paulson, an intensely phobic woman who is literally “triggered” by the election in a severe struggle with her mental illness.
When Donald Trump is announced President-Elect of the United States, Ally screams, and sobs, and presses her face into her palms in agony. It’s extreme and dramatic, but again, only a few shades removed from the real-life experience of many American citizens, who met Trump’s election with shock, incredulity, and yes, horror.
If Ally’s reaction is amplified, the “other side” is even more absurd. Running opposite Ally’s descent into fear is Evan Peters‘ Kai, an alt-right-adjacent angry white man who greets Trump’s election with euphoric, TV-humping enthusiasm and sets out to start of a revolution.
Kai not only embraces the fear, he feeds on it; it gives people like him power, and he sows the seeds of conflict and paranoia jubilantly by building a cult of devoted followers, appealing to their base instincts and desperation for belonging.
Kai believes the human race loves fear above all else and only when the masses are terrified will the powerful truly reign.
“Above all humans love fear,” he intones as he sets the wheels in motion on his path to power and political office, “Fear that over time we have honed and polished and built up brick by brick until it stands before us every day as tall as the Trump tower.”
The most horrific season yet
FX’s hit horror series has established a well-earned reputation as a taboo-shredding genre free-for-all over the years, but it’s not the salacious shock factor that thrills in ‘Cult’.
There are certainly elements of that campy glee in Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk‘s seventh ‘American Horror Story’ installment. But this irreverent election-inspired batch is the most American, most horrific, and most story-driven the duo have ever produced.
Despite the carnival of killer clowns and trypophobic tongues that dominated the marketing campaign, ‘Cult’ is less interested in the indulgent visual splendor we’ve come to expect from the series, and is focused instead on creating a psychological state of persistent paranoia and fear rooted in the national panic fuelling our current political discourse.
American Horror Story has always traded in fear, but never before has it so thoroughly investigated the sensation of fear itself, rooting it in a recognizable, realistic set of circumstances.
‘Cult’ introduces us to an amplified and absurd version of the divided America we live in right now.
Much like ‘The Purge’, with which the series shares a fair amount of DNA, ‘Cult’ feels like America once removed; it is just beyond the realm of reality, but it’s still in the bloodline — the skewed reflection is too close for comfort by far.
The best and the worst thing about all of it is that it’s scary in a way this show has never really been before. There’s not a single supernatural element happening here which almost makes it scarier. Every scare is either human or a fear-enhanced hallucination, and you can’t always tell which one it is. And as for the politics, whichever side of the spectrum you’re on, there’s something to relate and something to laugh at here.
The show isn’t actually about politics or what actually happened in 2016, but it’s more about the heightened state we all find ourselves in after such a divisive election
The aftermath of the election
‘American Horror Story’ creator Ryan Murphy recently explained that ‘Cult’ really is not about Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, rather, about the aftermath of the election and how that affected people.
“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,” Ryan told THR.
“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. The season really is not about Trump, it’s not about Clinton.”
“It’s about somebody who has the wherewithal to put their finger up in the wind and see that that’s what’s happening and is using that to rise up and form power, and using people’s vulnerabilities about how they’re afraid and don’t know where to turn, and they feel like the world is on fire.”
Source: The Guardian