American Horror Story Cult is nothing like I thought it would be, and all things considered that’s probably a good thing.
For the first time in recent memory, Ryan Murphy didn’t hold back about the latest incarnation of American Horror Story. The seventh season’s theme, Cult, was revealed at San Diego Comic Con in July 2017, but there was buzz about the show for months. Whereas the sixth season was shrouded in mystery until the moment it premiered, this time around Murphy was very open that the show would revolve around the 2016 Presidential Election.
As soon as the announcement was made, many fans rolled their eyes. Would this be a season surrounded by politics and bickering? The answer, as it turns out, is no.
While the seventh season is set during the time period of the election, the show’s theme is really about fear. Fear, says Evan Peters’ Kai Anderson, is what motivates everyone more than any other influence in our lives. Donald Trump was elected because of fear. Prejudice is a result of fear. People act because of fear, and that’s where the story begins.
Cult revolves around fear, and how uncertainty and fear can allow charismatic individuals to take power. I’m not talking about Trump, either. The show is called “cult” for a reason. All of the fear in the country will give rise to a Charles Manson-like cult leader in Peters’ Kai Anderson. And that’s where the fun begins.
There is also some great interplay with fears and phobias, like the fear of clowns, the fear of the unknown and claustrophobia. Sarah Paulson’s Ally embodies a woman living in extreme fear while Billie Lourd’s Winter is a young woman who is so afraid that she puts her faith in the hands of the man who terrifies her: Kai.
So even though I approached American Horror Story with great trepidation, I’m going to watch with an open mind. It would be way too easy for the show to be focused solely on the election. Murphy isn’t known for revealing his hand so soon, so I suspect there is a lot more to see this season.