Recently, co-creator of the critically acclaimed horror anthology American Horror Story Ryan Murphy went on Bravo’s “Watch What Happens Live” and announced that the show’s next season will focus on the 2016 presidential election.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with American Horror Story, it’s a show that draws its inspiration not only from old horror movies and fictional stories, but actual events that have taken place in the United States.
In its first season, “Murder House,” most of the murders — possibly even all — were based on real ones. The character Elizabeth Short, portrayed by Mena Suvari, was an actual woman popularly known as the “Black Dahlia.” According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), in 1947, the body of a girl was found brutally mutilated in Los Angeles. Before the body had been identified, the press referred to her as the “Black Dahlia” until the FBI finally identified, her as 22-year-old aspiring actress Elizabeth Short.
Now, the series is going in a whole new direction. Instead of mysterious disappearances, haunted landmarks, and serial killers, we are told to expect a season based on corrupt politicians.
Since this season will not have the supernatural element in it, if they want this to work and be as scary as their previous seasons, they need to be able to capture the hatred that Trump ran his campaign on. Throughout his campaign, Trump’s rallies revealed another side of America that some of us didn’t want to believe existed. As he publicly voiced his prejudice against minority groups such as Mexicans and Muslims, his supporters stood behind him and cheered.
Needless to say, many people who are part of the groups that Trump targeted during his campaign were terrified by his win. Within the ten days following the election, approximately 900 hate incidents occurred, according to Southern Poverty Law Center. These incidents included vandalism of mosques, spray-painted swastikas, and written threats. Of those incidents, the majority were targeted at Latinos and African-Americans.
It was definitely terrifying watching the election unravel during the fall semester. I hardly watched any of American Horror Story’s sixth season because I was too busy watching the real-life version of American horror story as the presidential debates aired and scandals broke out left and right. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one thinking that what was happening in real life was scarier than what was going on in the show. I remember scrolling through tumblr and seeing posts that read “American Horror Story Election,” or “American Horror Story Donald Trump,” or “2016 US Presidential Election: the True American Horror Story” in the American Horror Story logo font. Heck, maybe that’s where Ryan Murphy got the idea from.
When I started seeing posts on Facebook last week that American Horror Story would base its next season on the election, I thought it was a joke. Then I saw Ryan Murphy confirm it during his interview with Andy Cohen. As scary as the election was, I am having a hard time processing how the writers of American Horror Story are going to pull this off. What is this season going to look like? Is it going to be like The Purge? Or a season of Black Mirror?
In order to make this season of American Horror Story a success, the writers need to be able to encapsulate the bigotry and ignorance unmasked during the election. They have to cast someone who can play a politician that knows nothing about politics but is able to build a platform by insulting his opponents and playing with people’s fears.
At this point, American Horror Story fans have so many questions, and very few answers. As usual, Ryan Murphy is keeping us in the dark. When Cohen asked him if there would be a character named Donald Trump in the show he said, “Maybe.” So, I don’t even think he really knows how they are going to approach this. To be fair, he did tell Cohen that they don’t actually start shooting the season until June. Still, the uncertainty is already getting to me. I want previews and I want to know which cast members are returning.
At this point, actress Sarah Paulson and actor Evan Peters are the only two known cast members signed on for the next season, according to Time. However, actress Naomi Grossman, who played Pepper in seasons two and four of American Horror Story, is eager to take on the role of Hillary Clinton. Shortly after Murphy made the big announcement, Grossman posted a picture of herself in a pantsuit and captioned it, “Pantsuit’s pressed and ready.” It would be great to see Grossman come back on the show, whether or not she plays Clinton.
I am very eager to see how this will play out. I’m certainly going to miss the supernatural aspect of the show, since it’s the reason I got into the show in the first place. However, this new approach should certainly be interesting, that is, if they can pull it off, which I hope they do. To the writers of the show, please don’t mess this up. Also, to the Poets here at Whittier College who like horror shows: you should check out American Horror Story; seasons one through five are on Netflix.