The new season of American Horror Story: Cult has moved away from its usual paranormal activity and ventured onto something a little more terrifying: reality.
Creating the need for a definite trigger warning from the very first episode, the season began on a night that struck fear into the hearts of a majority of America—the 2016 Presidential Election.
As the results roll in and Trump's presidency is announced, creepy self-proclaimed puppetmaster Kai Andersen (the returning Evan Peters) humps his television and puts a bag of Cheetos in a blender, rubbing the orange pulp on his face in tribute to his new leader. Meanwhile, on the other side of town, lesbian couple Ally and Ivy (Sarah Paulson and Allison Pill) are left sobbing and speechless as they hold their son and question if their marriage will remain legal. Thinking that it was impossible for Trump to win, Ally later admits that she voted for Jill Stein.
Just as in reality, chaos commences, and the idea of “Trump's America” quickly takes full effect: before long, Republicans and Democrats are in all-out war in all respects except the physical, with latent bigots finally feeling emboldened to inflict their violent mindsets upon our diverse America. Although it’s unclear if Kai is in fact even a Trump supporter, he uses his commander-in-chief's bullying and fear-based tactics to build his own political platform in running for City Council. According to Kai: “We love fear more than we love our children.”
Moving forward with his plan, Kai begins to assemble his army: a group of individuals who dress as terrifying clowns (symbolism, much?) and murder people in effort to create fear and panic. The night of the election, Kai even convinces one handcuffed follower to cut off his own arm so he can escape his shackles and vote for Trump. Handless and bleeding, the acolyte makes it to the polling center, yelling, “Welcome to Trump's America, motherfuckers!” As the season continues, the murders progress, and Kai wins a seat on the City Council after basing his campaign on the promise that he will make his newly-unsafe city great again. (Sound familiar?)
Although the season is beginning to veer away from the political aspect, its realistic undertones are undeniable. (In a spooky "the world might just be one big reality show and the joke’s on us" kind of way, the same week as the shooting in Las Vegas, AHS aired an episode that included a mass shooting. The episode had to be edited and wasn’t aired on television out of respect for the victims of the Vegas massacre.) As we turn on the news or check our Twitter feed, we are constantly faced with violence and the manipulated perspectives of our government and media. And although we dutifully tune in on Tuesday nights to watch AHS unfold, perhaps we are the ones who are living the true American horror story.
Ting Ting Chen