The season premiere of American Horror Story: Cult delivered on its promise to exploit real-life horrors (that is to say the 2016 election.) This style isn’t unusual for creator Ryan Murphy, who frequently draws plot inspiration from historical events (see: Feud or American Crime Story or the true story of the Black Dahlia, a young woman who was murdered and later became a ghost that haunted actors Connie Britton and Dylan McDermott.)
Needless to say, there were, like, so many legitimate spooks in episode one, “Election Night.” Such as:
1. Reliving WATCHING The Election
Remember that viewing party or bar you were at, and the drink you were drinking, and the heart you were palpitating? Well, in case you didn’t, there were plenty of reminders in the cold open! The hope-turned-disbelief, the feeling of abandonment re: Hillary, blaming your family/partner/best-conservative-friend! Will those relationships ever be the salvaged? Probably not. And that’s scary.
Ally (Sarah Paulson) rehashes a long list of phobias with her therapist, Dr. Rudy (Cheyenne Jackson). One of these is trypophobia, an irrational fear of holes, triggered here by Dr. Rudy’s massive chunk of coral. It’s a pretty scary paperweight. But what’s truly scary is that the Great Barrier Reef is dying as you read this. Think about it.
To cope with stress, Dr. Rudy mentions that he’s started a training system called TRX, which is why he does “look good,” according to Ally. Ugh. Scary how important body image can be - even in, like, business or nursing.
You wouldn’t expect to see Chaz Bono wearing a MAGA hat. And the cashier he plays, Gary, seems so sweet at first. So, you wouldn’t expect that, either. You just can never tell who might have different beliefs from yours. Scary!!
5. Grocery Stores
We should all be buying directly from farmers markets. In fact, that’s probably why this store is completely empty - everybody else got the memo. But why didn’t Ally? Nobody told her or is she just a restaurant-owning, Prius-crashing hypocrite? Ooh, that’s a-scary.
6. Jill Stein
It’s revealed that Ally’s wife, Ivy (Alison Pill), has some underlying resentment since, it turns out, Ally (liberal, educated, homosexual, female) voted for Jill Stein despite hating Trump because she couldn’t stomach Clinton. Horrifying af. And she, like, rationalizes it. V scary.
7. Job Interviews
Ally and Ivy’s Guatemalan nanny has disappeared, perhaps hiding, fearing deportation. This conveniently sets up Kai Anderson’s (Evan Peters) sister and/or wife and/or slave, Winter (Billie Lourd), to interview for the open position. Later, Winter ends up showing their son, Oz (Cooper Dodson), snuff films on the dark web. So…she’s great.
Supposedly, Lena Dunham retweeted her once, and that’s very impressive. The implication that even nannies are hired off of their social media stats is the scariest thing of all. Of ever.
Ivy is a chef and wants Ally to try her new menu items. When Ally pops open the serving dish, she finds a bloody crumpet garnished with human fingers. She rightfully freaks out because of the blood and #holes. Although some viewers were creeped out by those, too, statistically, more were freaked out by the idea of so much gluten on a plate, and the agonizing digestive issues to follow. We later learn from Ivy that it’s actually a celiac-friendly soufflé! With, brace yourself, truffle oil! Terrifying! Human fingers are way more palatable - but still scary.
9. Oh Yeah, Clowns
There are clowns all over. So. Many. Clowns. Clowns without jaws, clowns with dicks for faces, clowns with dicks in faces, clowns that travel in artisanal ice cream trucks. And, if you watched the live broadcast, you also were treated to promos for IT. Not that scary. Unless you, like Ally, have coulrophobia. Then scary.
10. Diversity (Lack Thereof)
Ryan Murphy killed off two potentially awesome Asian characters by the end of episode one - Mr. Chang (Tim Kang) and Mrs. Chang (Nanrisa Lee) - making every remaining character on this show a rich white person (with the exception of one, possibly middle-class, alt-right anarchist and a cashier). How scary for Murphy. He must be so scared right now.