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When horror meets reality

Graphic by Kaitlyn Patterson '20.
Written by Emily Graham

A politically charged season of “American Horror Story”


“American Horror Story” (“AHS”) returned on Sept. 5 with the premiere of its seventh season. This season’s theme is “Cult”, and it is a politically charged one, opening with an episode titled “Election Night.” Since the announcement of the season and the release of the trailer, viewers have been awaiting its arrival, curious to see how the controversial topic will play out.

The season stars a mix of old and new cast members, such as fan favorites Sarah Paulson and Evan Peters, and introduces Colton Haynes, Billie Lourd and Alison Pill. While longtime viewers may miss original “AHS ” stars such as Jessica Lange, the new cast performed well in the premiere and refreshed the series with new faces.

Additionally, the show will feature single performances by several guest stars, including Emma Roberts and Adina Porter, as well as Lena Dunham, in her first role in the series.

“AHS” already pushes the limits of television with gore and horror unseen in any other basic cable series. However, in this season, the writers have taken the show even further by incorporating contentious current events. The outspoken social commentary is in some ways inspired by today’s news, and in other ways exaggerated.

The premiere episode touched on various tense and heavy topics that may hit close to home for many Americans. Additionally, the characters’ personal problems, such as mental health issues and family relationships, are strained by the nationwide distress.

“Cult’s” main theme, however, is the development of political tensions in the United States throughout the election and in its aftermath. In the premiere, viewers  see reactions to the announcement of the election results from various people: a lesbian couple with a child, a Hispanic housekeeper, a college student who dropped out of school to campaign, and an Asian-American couple. On the extreme side, we see a crazed man calling for a revolution.

The story focuses on Ally Mayfair-Richards (Paulson) as she suffers from phobias and anxieties triggered by the election. Her intense fears take on the form of clowns, reminiscent of the series of clown attacks in the last year. Mayfair-Richards struggles to cope with her vivid fears, though it is still unclear whether they are hallucinations or reality.

Viewers also see Kai Anderson (Peters) celebrate the election, but to a more disturbing degree. Representing an intense radicalism, Anderson calls for a society run by fear and chaos, with no protection for minorities or any oppressed groups. He acts out against a group of Hispanic men, but seems to have even more sinister plans to come in the season.

Overall, the episode paints a bleak picture of the country. On a basic level, the political situation causes family arguments, as two couples dispute over their voting decisions. On a larger scale, the consequences demonstrated by Anderson’s actions are physically dangerous and spark fear in a large portion of the population.

While “AHS” is known for its dark and twisted stories, this season might achieve a new level of horror, as it plays off of current fears and anxieties. Combining political turmoil and traditional terror, this season of “American Horror Story” is definitely not for the light of heart.

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Emily Graham

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