Join the Cult


Nicole Shaker, Staff Writer

What’s the thing that scares you the most?

FX’s anthology series, American Horror Story, has recently premiered its seventh season, entitled Cult. The show has developed quite a fanbase since its series premiere on October 4, 2011, covering topics ranging from cruel insane asylums to modern witch covens. The show is no stranger to controversy. But series creators Brad Falchuk and Ryan Murphy have decided to push the limits even further with their latest season, focusing on the 2016 American election, which is still tender in many people’s minds.

The first couple scenes of Cult’s season premiere include real footage of the highlights and most controversial points in the election, including many of Donald Trump’s arousing speeches and Hillary Clinton’s email scandal, to name a few. As Trump is announced to be the next president of the United States, we see an anti-Trump coulrophobic’s terrified face, and then cut to a passionate blue-haired man celebrating by humping his television. The season premiere got mixed reviews, many people feeling as if the show is making fun of a serious topic, others arguing that it’s brilliantly accessing people’s worst fears, accomplishing its job as a horror show.

Alex Leviev (‘20) , a loyal American Horror Story fan, wasn’t too excited about the new season when she first heard about it. “Honestly, I thought that was pretty stupid at first,” she said, “because they’re like making a joke about it, you know, and I thought like it’s not gonna be scary anymore.” Many people shared her opinion and took to expressing their disapproval on social media and other platforms, many saying that the show is trying too hard to be controversial and get attention.

These people clearly didn’t tune in to the first episode, as Deadline stated, “With 3.93 million viewers and a 2.02 rating among adults 18-49 on September 5, the latest installment of the Ryan Murphy- and Brad Falchuk-created series premiered down significantly from last year’s season opener of American Horror Story: Roanoke.” Ouch. Nonetheless, all hope isn’t lost for the show, as Alex went on to say that actually watching the season premiere changed her opinion of the premise of the show, and that she’s excited to keep watching it.

Other people were excited from day one when the season focus was first announced. Katherine Edwards (‘20), a moderate American Horror Story watcher, tuned in. “I mean, it’s pretty weird, but it could be sorta interesting, I guess,” she said, “It’s going really modern with the election and the clowns and everything, so I guess it could be especially scary this season, you know, for people who get really triggered by that sorta stuff.” As the election still holds a dark place in many people’s minds, this season could definitely be tapping into many a liberal’s worst fears. And of course, the election isn’t the only scary thing Cult is bringing to life; clowns are also a major focus of the season, and as the clown murder epidemic is also recent and quite terrifying to many people, the show seems to be trying its hardest to unsettle its viewers.

Of course, that’s the job of the horror genre. American Horror Story discusses topics like school shootings, rape, and murder-suicides—topics that make the average person squirm in his or her seat. So naturally, the highly controversial, shocking, and terrifying— to some people—2016 American election is a subject the show had to get its bloody hands on. But Cult must be careful with its execution. How Murphy and Falchuk choose to go about this could be the difference between an Emmy and a mid-season cancellation.

We’ll just have to wait and see if the coming episodes gain views and appreciation, or if the gutsy show reaches a premature demise.