When Ryan Murphy hinted that the latest season of American Horror Story would somehow tackle the election of Donald Trump, we didn’t know what to expect. Given that it had the word “cult” attached to its title, coupled with Murphy’s unabashedly liberal worldview, our gut told us that Trump supporters would be this season’s version of the aliens, clowns, vampires and serial killers that stalked seasons past.
But Murphy has become one of the most daring voices in television not by meeting our expectations, but by subverting them. If you thought that he was going to waste an entire season to pile on the basket of deplorables who helped Trump’s White House ascension, then you haven’t been paying attention.
Tuesday’s season premiere opens on election night, first with a stock-footage montage of the many lowlights of the campaign, and then transitions to the living room of Kai (Evan Peters), a blue-haired amalgam of the worst of Trump’s base. “The revolution has begun,” he says to the sky after Trump’s win is confirmed. Then he humps his television.
Cut to our protagonist Ally (Sarah Paulson) and her wife Ivy, as they come to the stunning realization that Hillary blew it. The contrast between the two camps is stark: One is a fanatical zealot with a lunacy that makes the Joker look like a Buddhist; the other, a pair of self-styled liberals who live in a pretty house, run an artisanal restaurant called the Butchery and worship at the altar of Rachel Maddow. On the surface, it’s easy to assume which one Murphy wants us to side with. But as the episode unfurls, it becomes increasingly clear that he’s is just as willing to satirize the left as he is the right.
Ally is a figurehead for the liberals who drowned themselves in self-pity following the election. She’s a self-righteous egoist who speaks in woe-is-me platitudes and sees Trump’s win as a personal affront to her privileged existence. Oh, and she voted for Jill Stein. She may not be a racist or a xenophobe like Kai, but in Murphy’s eyes, she’s just as culpible for Trump’s win.
As expected, Murphy’s decision to make this season’s hero an insufferable liberal alarmist provoked a fiery reaction online.
Please don’t let Sarah Paulson’s character survive the second episode, please 🙏🏼 #ahscult— Georgina (@georginalamb) September 6, 2017
Jesus Christ, could Sarah Paulson’s character be more annoying? Evan as a T supporter? And clowns again? I think I’ll pass. L #AHSCult— Tom & Lorenzo (@tomandlorenzo) September 6, 2017
I love Sarah Paulson but if this whole season will be about her screaming and running, IDK if I will handle it. 😩😅 #AHSCult— Love, Mira (@mhauk98) September 6, 2017
American Horror Story: Sarah Paulson, Triggered Liberal— David (@davidwphotog) September 6, 2017
Wayyyy too much politics in this show. At least they got the liberal lunatic character down. Sarah Paulson nailed it! #AHSCult— Stan Halen (@sfninerdave) September 6, 2017
So Sarah Paulson’s character is just supposed to be a liberal “snowflake” stereotype?— lil thiccy (@CoolNEGuy) September 6, 2017
Sometimes, the truth hurts.