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“American Horror Story: Cult” uses presidential election as fear tactic

Clowns, fear and election night anxiety permeated the debut of the latest “American Horror Story” 

(Photo courtesy of
installment, “Cult.”

Sound familiar? The show is usually full of ghosts, witches and dead people stuck in limbo, but this season has taken a turn into reality. Many fans made the joke on election night that this past election was a true American horror story, and show creator Ryan Murphy capitalized on that. This is the first season of “American Horror Story” lacking a supernatural element.


While to promotional releasings for the show ahead of the premiere were a little confusing, with scary clowns, and lots of bees and something about politics mixed in, the premiere cleared the air. The subject of this season is fear itself.

The part that’s confusing now is having political satire mixed in with a weekly dose of fear. This is a show that normally has fans significantly freaked out, but now there’s laughing? Eye rolling?

“American Horror Story” alum Sarah Paulson is playing what can only be described as, dare I say it, a “liberal snowflake” in Ally Mayfair-Richards. While fellow “American Horror Story” favorite, Evan Peters, is the internet trolling, basement living, blue haired, Trump supporter, Kai Anderson, who is thriving off of other people’s fear. Show newcomer, Billie Lourd, plays Peters’ sister, Winter Anderson, and at one point says there should have been a “trigger warning” ahead of the election results. It all seems a bit much, and doesn’t accurately represent even the most devout liberal or conservative followers in real life.

Politics aside, “Cult” delivered the macabre scariness fans keep coming back for. There are clowns in plastic masks chasing Ally with a knife, having sex in the middle of the grocery store and waiting in the dark back seat of her car. Twisty the Clown makes an appearance, if only technically in comic book form. Fans are left to question whether the clowns are actually there or not, though, as Ally’s character suffers from an extreme case of coulrophobia (fear of clowns). Thus far, she and her son, Ozzy, are the only characters to confirm seeing the clowns, so are they real or has Oz picked up on this irrational fear?

Ally also has trypophobia (fear of holes). Specifically, she has a fear of clustered holes, like holes in some plants, bread, crepes or, wait for it, honeycombs. While the first episode didn’t introduce the bees thing, it’s coming, and it’s a safe bet Ally will handle it about as well as she’s been handling the clowns.

The actual cult part of things has only been hinted at. Is it a cult of killer clowns wandering around town, or are the characters going to form one based on their quasi-radical political beliefs? Hopefully, next week’s episode will provide some answers.

Should you watch it?: Yes! (Unless you have coulrophobia or trypophobia)

There are still plenty of questions to be raised, likely before any get answered. And if the shows history tells us anything, it’s that there are many twists and turns, and just some good old fashioned horror, ahead.

“American Horror Story: Cult” airs Tuesdays at 11 p.m. on FX. 


Collegian reporter Ashley Potts can be reached at or on Twitter @11smashley.

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