The Dose: ‘American Horror Story: Cult’ is worth joining

The Dose: ‘American Horror Story: Cult’ is worth joining

The Dose: ‘American Horror Story: Cult’ is worth joining
September 08
13:30 2017

Fans have been anxiously awaiting the premiere of the seventh installment of FX’s Emmy-winning anthology series American Horror Story, which took on the subtitle of “Cult” this season.

As anyone who has ever watched an episode of AHS could tell you, it was a very interesting hour of television.

The Michigan-set season, starring series mainstays Evan Peters and Emmy-winner Sarah Paulson, opens with scenes depicting two very opposite reactions to the election of Donald Trump as president last November.

On one side, viewers watch Paulson’s Ally and her wife Ivy (played by AHS newbie Alison Pill) host an election-watching party with their left-leaning friends. In the scene, Paulson gives an over-the-top performance in which she is seen hysterically crying as the results are announced onscreen.

On the other side, we see Peters’ Kai Anderson (the titular cult leader) become so excited for Trump’s victory that he dry-humps the TV screen and subsequently covers his face in Cheeto dust in order to resemble the nation’s new leader. Normal stuff, right?

In the election fallout, Ally begins to suffer from severe anxiety and numerous phobias, including clowns, enclosed spaces and holes, for which she sees a psychiatrist (played by “Hotel” and “Roanoke” alum Cheyenne Jackson).

The somewhat controversial political aspects of this season cannot be ignored but also shouldn’t be a reason for turning away.

The creators may have incorporated the current political and social state of the country as part of the horror this season, but it isn’t the entire story. This is also not the first time social and political issues have been a part of the series.

“Coven” explored racial issues and abuse of slaves, while “Freak Show” explored the lack of acceptance of people who were different. This season may just feel a little closer to home because the issues are right in our faces and have been seen over and over again on multiple platforms for more than a year.

But we must remember, this is satire.

One of the best scenes of the episode is when Ally is inside an essentially vacant grocery store and begins seeing clowns around every turn, some chasing her while others pleasure themselves mid-aisle (typical AHS material, no?). In the scene, Paulson screams and begs for her life as well as, almost literally, another Emmy.

However, based on the premiere alone, this could easily be Evan Peters’ season to shine.

While Peters is no stranger to portraying sick and demented characters in the AHS universe (such as season one’s Tate Langdon), it seems he has been given some of his most challenging and complex roles this season. Series co-creator Ryan Murphy mentioned that Peters will not only play cult-leader Kai this season, but he will also portray famous cult leaders of the past, including Charles Manson, Jim Jones and Andy Warhol, in flashbacks.

The episode also features the AHS debut of Billie Lourd (daughter of the late Carrie Fisher) as Kai’s Hillary Clinton-supporting sister Winter Anderson, who is later hired in the episode by Ally and Ivy as a nanny for their son. Lourd’s icy, deadpan delivery only adds to the mystery shrouding the cult.

The premiere briefly introduced Teen Wolf alum Colton Haynes in the role of an investigator over the clown murders beginning to happen around town. Other actors whose appearances have been confirmed this season include newbies Billy Eichner and Leslie Grossman as well as alums Frances Conroy and Emma Roberts.

While I’m not of fan of legend Kathy Bates’ absence this season (Bates has given us four years of strange accents, among other gifts, and is sitting this season out due to other commitments) along with the absences of fellow AHS legends Lily Rabe, Angela Bassett and Denis O’Hare, the new faces seem quite promising.

Just in the way we have survived Jessica Lange’s absence the last two years, we can survive a season without some of the other greats.

Overall, the season-opener has pretty much everything a long-time fan of the series could ask for: stellar performances, some bloody corpses, in-your-face frights, horny clowns (as well as the reappearance of Twisty the Clown) and some series-first F-bombs.

I will most definitely be in front of my screen the next 10 Tuesdays to join the “Cult” ride.

Featured Image: Courtesy of FX

About Author

Sean Riedel

Sean Riedel

Sean Riedel has been a staff writer for the North Texas Daily since September 2017.

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