I’ve been a huge fan of AMERICAN HORROR STORY since the beginning. Some probably don’t remember that viewers were unaware that this was an anthology show until after the first season was done. It came with some hesitation as fans loved the Harmon family from the first season and the tragic love story between Tate and Violet. Each season that came after was a mixed bag and the ratings reflect that. Everyone has their favorite and there are definitely some that are hated. However, it’s been fun watching the returning cast members put on different make up as new characters along with some high-profile casting choices (Lady Gaga, Patti LaBelle!). Every season gave us a new theme and, while this year is subtitled CULT but it’s heavily influenced by the latest presidential election.
Ally (Sarah Paulson) and Ivy (Alison Pill) are a married lesbian couple who watch Trump win the election during the opening minutes of the season premiere. They are upset, but Ally takes her emotions to a whole new level of fear. This fear is accompanied by her many phobias, including that of clowns and tiny holes. It doesn’t help that her son is reading a Twisty the Clown comic book and loves the obscene. Show runners brought the FREAKSHOW fans a visual treat by recreating the pages of the comic to the TV screen and got to relive Twisty’s terror that was so short-lived in what I considered to be the worst season of the series. Ally and Ivy’s relationship has taken a toll since election night and Ally’s phobias begin to manifest themselves as she witness masturbating clowns in a grocery store employed with Republicans looking to make America great. These clowns are fucking each other and taunting her through the aisles, but she seems to be the only one seeing them.
Everyone says she’s under a lot of stress, but it turns out she’s also not taking her meds. The best part of this season’s angle (so far) is that we’re not sure if there are killer clowns terrorizing the streets or if this self-absorbed liberal is just losing her mind. It feels satirical for sure, but it seems to be pissing off a lot of fans online. As someone who avoids political conversations at all costs, I’m enjoying the jabs as some of the dialogue are conversations I’ve overheard myself or creeped on via Facebook arguments that plague politically based statuses.
Parallel to this storyline is Trump supporter Kai (Evan Peters), sporting long blue hair and is ecstatic to learn the election results. He humps the TV and is on his way to become everything wrong with viral celebrities. Kai takes the time to show up at a city council meeting to vote against security for a Jewish community center and offers the same kind of nonsense racists utilize to rationalize their racism. It’s that whole “America’s too sensitive” bullshit just because people are now calling you out. He follows this by antagonizing a group of Hispanic construction workers and throwing a condom full of fresh urine at them. They react by beating him down while a mysterious figure captures the footage secretly on their iPhone. This footage is obviously going to be edited to be made to look like how dangerous immigrants are in order to support the Trump ideology.
There’s also Winter (Billie Lourd, the best part of the cancelled SCREAM QUEENS), who takes over the nanny role for Ally and Ivy after their previous one suddenly disappeared after the election. Winter is hard to read, which is why Lourd is so captivating to watch. Her deep, raspy voice and intimidating stares help create a sense of unease when she’s onscreen. We’re not sure if we are to trust her or not, as she clearly hates Trump, but has some kind of agenda going on with Kai. This secret agenda involves our lead couple, and might be tied to the murder of the Asian couple across the street, which was classified as a murder suicide. However, this is questionable, as their son claims to have witnessed a group of clowns stabbing the couple to death. Winter says this never happened, but who is to be trusted?
I’m totally in, as this feels like the most grounded version of AHS so far. The show has always been outrageous and taps into taboos that continues to push television censorship regulations (you’re allowed to say “fuck” now!), but this one feels close to home. This season appears to explore a nightmare that feels all too real, and I’m willing to take the journey.