On Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen last night, Ryan Murphy said that the next season of American Horror Story will grapple with the 2016 election. Cohen, who seemed surprised, asked if the show would have a Donald Trump character, to which Murphy replied “maybe.” This portion of the interview is less than 30 seconds long, so that’s all the details we got.
The election of Donald Trump seems like a more natural fit for Murphy’s other FX anthology series American Crime Story, given that show’s tendency thus far to engage with contemporary political issues, “the mainstream media,” and the law. But it will be interesting to see what Murphy does with the election within the constraints of a show that is bound to a tradition of near-constant gore, teeth hailstorms, mutant pig monsters, vengeful ghosts, and time-traveling Nazis (oh...). Though in either case, Murphy is mostly hands-off at this point. He didn’t write any of American Crime Story and co-wrote just two episodes of AHS’ most recent season.
All this is still up in the air, more or less. Murphy could be joking, or change his mind. American Horror Story is known for pulling feints with its themes. FX promoted seven different possible storylines leading up to last year’s season premiere, before the network president John Landgraf revealed that all but one of them were deliberate misdirects. Last October, Murphy said that the seventh season’s theme would be announced in the spring of 2017, and that it would have “a big hook behind it” involving characters from the show’s fourth season, Freak Show. That doesn’t work with what he’s saying now, unless there’s some sort of tie-in between that season’s Zodiac Killer inspired villain and 2016 presidential candidate Ted Cruz.
If American Horror Story does end up focusing on the election, it’ll have some competition — Zero Dark Thirty screenwriter Mark Boal is also working on a 2016 election miniseries produced by Annapurna, and has reportedly hired a team of investigative reporters to help him fill it out.
If you’re heavily invested in the televised prestige drama landscape, I guess you’re going to have to hunker down for yet another year of 2016. Good luck.