SPOILER ALERT: Do not read on unless you’ve seen the premiere of “American Horror Story: Cult,” titled “Election Night,” which aired Sept. 5 on FX.
Where were you on Nov. 8, 2016’s Election Night? That question alone seems to bring up passionate views from every American. The election of reality TV personality, and real estate mogul Donald Trump over the government powerhouse, and expected victor, Hillary Clinton catapulted us all into a real American horror story. The media immediately began posting its opinions and people were in a panic as the question of “what now?” began to form in not only words, but in actions, both rational and hysterical.
The characters of Ally and Kai in Ryan Murphy’s kind-of fictional universe masterfully represented the emotional archetypes on both sides of the fence. Played by Sarah Paulson and Evan Peters’ respectively, on the latest season of “American Horror Story,” titled “Cult,” which debuted Tuesday night. The premiere, written by co-creators Murphy and Brad Falchuk, is a dissection of human emotion through the use of real life trauma as it is done in true “AHS” fashion grounded in our very real political state, and the effects it had on both sides of the election.
The season opens with a back and forth between Ally and her wife, Ivy watching the TV in horror with their friends, and Kai watching in a dark room alone as the results are announced.
Ally nearly collapsing upon hearing the news that Trump was elected, begins to wail as her friends begin to argue about the lack of dedication and effort by many in their party. Switching over to Kai who is so elated he begins to dry hump the television screen when Trump appears on it, but no the fun doesn’t stop there. He actually covers his face with Cheetos to give him self that same orange hew as his new fearless leader.
He then goes down the hall to his sister’s room (we can only assume it’s his sister) Winter (Billie Lourd) who appears to be on the phone with a friend, devastated by the news, and cursing CNN for not issuing a warning before announcing the election results. Kai then sits on the bed and holds up his pinky and she locks hers with his like a pinky promise as they share a knowing look as if to say, “It’s time”.
Cut to a familiar scene of a couple in Jupiter Florida on a picnic blanket. They are not from the fifty’s, instead they have a modern look, tattoos and all. The boyfriend begins to tell her the story of Twisty the clown, and as he continues talking we see Twisty walking towards them from the background. The girl screams, as the clown gets closer. Pulling out a gun her boyfriend threatens Twisty if he doesn’t stop. Suddenly he shoots the clown and it does nothing. Twisty clubs him over the head with a juggling pin and then begins to stab him repeatedly. This scene is all too familiar as the girl runs, Twisty close behind her. Suddenly we see the scene become the pages of a comic book Ally’s son OZ is reading.
She comes in and demands in a polite way for him to give her whatever it is he is hiding. She explains to him that being curious about the human body is a normal thing. (I guess she thinks he is reading playboy) He hands her the comic and she has an immediate panic attack from the picture of Twisty on the front cover. We find out later as she is talking with her therapist, Dr. Rudy Vincent (Cheyenne Jackson), that not only is her clown phobia revealed but she has developed new and deeper phobias, such as small holes.
As the show moves on we start seeing both characters going further and further down the rabbit-hole giving in to the insanities that seem to be taking over their lives. Ally seems to also not realize that her son Oz has sociopath traits with homicidal tendencies as shown by the drawing he does. As Winter infiltrates the house of what is presented as white privileged people (Ally and her wife), she feeds into Oz’s obsession for death as his mother falls further and further into her psychosis and begins to see clowns everywhere. The question soon becomes “is she really crazy or is this really happening?” The premiere ends with Oz and Winter witnessing the murder of their neighbors by Clowns who are driving an ice-cream truck.
American Horror Story has a lot to live up to with it’s past couple of seasons not being nearly as strong as the first few. It’s my hope that Ryan Murphy gets back to his original formula and terrifies us yet again with provocative story lines and characters. Will this be the season to do that? Only time will tell.