The seventh season of Ryan Murphy’s FX anthology series American Horror Story is officially called American Horror Story: Cult, announced today via a typically creepy teaser trailer.
The teaser shows a bunch of truly emo clowns with axes crowding in on a woman who looks sort of like Katy Perry and seems very nervous. The voiceover asks, “Does it seem like no one really understands you? Do some people just make you sick? Are you afraid? We can set you free.”
This seems to contradict Murphy’s February statement that the season would focus on a fictional retelling of the 2016 presidential election cycle. In March, he reiterated that promise, saying that there would be some version of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump on the show, but cushioned it adding: “The election is allegory. It's our jumping off point. It is about the election we just went through and what happened on that night and the fallout of that night, which to many people, from all sides of the camps is a horror story.”
It’s possible that Cult could still get around to addressing the election, as this series is known for splintering off in unexpected directions. And I suppose it’s not so hard to make the jump from “Are you afraid?” to whatever made people vote for Trump. A post on Murphy’s Instagram today incorporates an American flag.
It’s also possible that whole election adaptation was a complete fake-out, as Murphy is known for nothing if not being a “provocateur.” I suppose we’ll find out when the season premieres on September 5th.
The first and second season of American Horror Story weren’t exactly critically acclaimed, but they did put forth some interesting, engaging ideas (particularly about what is and isn’t appropriate to depict on television), and AHS steadily picked up acting award nominations and wins for recurring cast members like Jessica Lange, Kathy Bates, and Sarah Paulson. Lady Gaga even won a Golden Globe for her part in the fifth installment, American Horror Story: Hotel. But AHS has always had a problem with hokey characters and mismatched ideas, B-plots that get abandoned, gratuitous, stylized sexual violence, and odd notions about race. It introduced the era of the prestige miniseries but feels, at this point, to have overstayed its welcome.