American Horror Story: Cult premiered on FX September 5 with an episode rife with social justice themes and worn-out tropes about conservative racism. Throughout the episode, we are not-so-subtly reminded that liberals are the tolerant, kind, good guys while conservatives are hateful, bigoted, and conscienceless. The show sets up a classic good vs. evil, and the Trump supporters are very bad -- 9/11 level bad.
Not only do they go overboard to make Trump supporters look bad, they are juxtaposed against the hero worship of liberals to create a sharp dichotomy. As promised, the episode, aptly named "Election Night," kicked off with real news coverage of Donald Trump (at his worst) and Hillary Clinton (at her best). We then go to Michigan were we meet same-sex married couple Ally (Sarah Paulson) and Ivy (Alison Pill) watching the election results with neighbors and having a meltdown. Meanwhile, a Trump supporter is shown humping his television screen. Literally.
The beginning is so over-the-top that I would honestly have wondered if it was supposed to be satire, except that producer Ryan Murphy takes himself this seriously.
Bret Baier: We are going to make this decision now. The Fox News Decision Desk has called... Pennsylvania for Donald Trump. This means that Donald Trump will be the 45th President of the United States, winning the most... Unreal, surreal election we have ever seen.
Kai: The revolution has begun.
Rachel Maddow: It's very, very, very close in a lot of...
Tom: It's over. If she hasn't won Pennsylvania by now, she's not coming back.
Ally: No, that's bullshit. I won't believe anything until I hear Rachel Maddow say it. She's the only one I trust.
Ivy: How is this happening?
Tom: It's the politics of fear. It always works.
Baier: What started off as unlikely, impossible, is now reality. He said he was always a winner. This did not come without controversy...
Kai: Fuck you, world! USA! USA! USA...! Ha-ha!
CNN reporter: ...have now confirmed that Secretary Clinton has conceded to Donald Trump. Uh, this concession took place in a phone call.
Mike Pence: It is my high honor...to introduce to you the President Elect of the United States of America, Donald Trump.
Ally: (scream, wail) No! Oh... No...
Kai: USA! USA!
Ally: (wailing) Oh, Ivy, no!
Ozzy: Is it bad? Did he win?
Ally: (wailing) Oh, go to hell, Huffington Post! Fuck you, Nate Silver! Oh, my God, how could they have been so wrong about this?
Ivy: You have to do your cookie breathing You've got to do your cookie breathing.
Ally: I can't do my cookie breathing.
Ivy: Give me one deep breath.
Ally: Oh, my God, Ivy. Merrick Garland. What's gonna happen with Merrick Garland?
Tom: You want to know who to get mad at for this? Our own state of Michigan. She's losing by 10,000 votes. That's the size of this town. And who's at 40,000 votes and counting? Jill Stein.
Ally: Is that true?
Tom: I hope every one of those voters who decided it was a good time to cast a protest vote is happy when that...psycho gets us all killed.
Marylin: Honey, don't get so worked up.
Tom: Shut up, Marylin. I told you to go vote, but you didn't listen. Now look what happened. Look at our friends on the couch and tell them that they may not be able to maintain their rights as a married couple because you were too busy today on Etsy to go vote!
Ozzy: I don't want you to not be married anymore.
Coming from Ryan Murphy (who also gave us, and then ruined "Glee"), it is hardly a surprise that politics plays a huge role in the story but, with Trump mania having set in, he may have officially forgotten that his job is, first and foremost, to entertain the audience, not push his worldview. Murphy is an outspoken liberal, Obama fundraiser, and Hollywood power player, so it's no surprise that he abandoned reason in this year's AHS. When the promos featured an American flag drenched in blood, we knew this train had jumped the track.
When the news first breaks of Hillary's loss, Winter (Billie Lourd), who dropped out of Vassar to campaign for Clinton is incredibly distraught. "What if I get pregnant now?" she asks someone over the phone "Where will I get an abortion...what is wrong with CNN not giving us a trigger warning before they announce the results?" Ivy and Ally's son Ozzy worries that his moms won't be allowed to be married anymore, and their housekeeper disappears within days, leaving them to wonder "if she went back to Guatemala or was rounded up." In every scene, liberals are victimized by the election result, although nothing has actually happened.
Kai, on the other hand, our TV-humping-Trump supporter, is a caricature of liberal fantasies about conservatives. He advocates for near anarchy, even if it means asking the community not to post additional police at the Jewish Community Center.
"We don't need to protect the Jewish Community Center," he argues before the city council. "We need to let them blow it up!" he says as he goes on into a rant about how people want fear and yearn to be scared so they don't have to think anymore.
In another scene, Kai fills a condom with his urine while singing La Cucaracha to a group of Hispanic men, then throws it at them. It turns out this is a setup, a way to incite the men to beat him up and capture it on camera so he can use it to run for office as we find out in the previews for next week.
In this next scene, the "good vs evil" is laid out more clearly as Ally speaks to her therapist. One gets the sense that Paulson, who took the election as well in real life as her character is taking it on the show, isn't acting so much as just having a real therapy session on camera. She even compares her reaction to "after 9/11."
Ally: Since election night everything is just so much worse. This is just like what happened to me in college after 9/11 when I couldn't leave my apartment. But you got through it. Ivy got me through it. Meeting her... Wanting to be well enough to be with her... To prove to her that I was stable enough to make a life with. I was willing to white-knuckle it, but then I didn't have to... Because Barack was elected and-and it was as if the universe... Righted itself. I loved our president. I was proud of him. And for the first time, I was included in the discussion, in the world.
Wow. Maybe if you didn't give the government this much power, you wouldn't allow a candidate winning or losing to affect your mental health. Just something to consider.
It is later revealed, in a shocking twist, that Ally herself voted for Stein, sure that Michigan would be safe from Trump, but begs Ivy not to tell anyone. A look at the American Horror Story hashtag on twitter will tell you that many agree that this protest vote is a horrible offense, with some saying they no longer have any sympathy for Ally and she can just go ahead and get murdered.
Emotions are already running high and we haven't even gotten to the episode(s) featuring Lena Dunham and Chaz Bono yet. For AHS fans, Cult won't be much more shocking than earlier seasons which included such things as a monsignor using a crucifix for strangulation, nuns raping priests, “Santa" threatening to “jam this gigantic crucifix” up the rear ends of nuns, dual masturbation to "cure" homosexuality, and infants’ head stored in basements. The overt addition of politics is just one more thing to add to this show's offensive bag of tricks. Better pack some snacks, conservatives, this is going to be a long season.