Insane ‘American Horror Story’ Takes on Racism, Gender Questioning Rodents

The September 19th episode of American Horror Story: Cult took on such weighty issues as gun rights, racism, and cisnormative guinea pigs. The episode "Neighbors From Hell" picks up right where the last episode left off, with Ally (Sarah Paulson) having just accidentally shot and killed her wife's employee Pedro when he dropped by the house unexpectedly. In the aftermath, these weighty issues are debated in the town and in the household.

Having just killed an innocent man on her front porch when she thinks she is being attacked, Ally believes she's going to be in big trouble with the law. She is quickly reminded, however, that they live in a state (Michigan) which has Stand Your Ground laws, which are portrayed as a license to shoot whomever she likes.

The locals don't agree, however, and begin to protest, calling her the "lesbian George Zimmerman." Not only did she kill an innocent man, but he's Hispanic. So was George Zimmerman, of course, but the media called him a “white hispanic” (whatever that means) to make it seem as though a white man killed the black Trayvon Martin.

Similarly, Ally is also painted as a racist, much to her chagrin. Her gay neighbor Harrison (Billy Eichner) says that her son Ozzy "needs a man in his life, and some diversity. He's drowning in white privilege and estrogen over there." There are several instances in this episode of Ally being indignant that she might be considered a racist for killing an innocent Latino man and, in this scene, she decides just to go tell the mob that she's on the right side politically, thinking that they will forgive her once they know. On her way, she calls her psychiatrist, Dr. Vincent (Cheyenne Jackson). 

 

 

Ally: I am dealing with this. In my own way, not perfectly, I know. But I-I am about to go speak to the protestors. 

Dr. Vincent: No. Terrible idea. 

Ally: Why is that a terrible idea? These are my people. I understand why they are so upset. I think once I clear up this misunderstanding about Pedro... I was just, I was actually calling you so I could go over what I was going to say. 

Dr. Vincent: People are projecting a lot of their own anxiety and anger onto you. Just be careful. Thank you. Talk soon. 

(Crowd chanting) 

Man: Look, there she is! 

Crowd: No justice, no peace! 

Man: That's her! No justice, no peace! Justice for Pedro! 

Ally: I am not the enemy! I am one of you! 

Crowd: ...No peace! No justice, no peace! 

Ally: I am one of you!

Crowd: No justice, no peace! 

Ally: Please move!

Crowd: No justice, no peace! 

Ally:  Move, motherfuckers! Come on! 

Crowd: Justice for Pedro! 

Ally: Move! Move!

This is a rude awakening as Ally realizes that a crowd can turn on her, someone with the "right" way of thinking, just as easily as they can turn on anyone else. Maybe being a social justice warrior isn't the protection that she thinks it is when confronted by an angry mob. 

In the midst of all of the chaos in the aftermath of the shooting, Ally and her wife Ivy (Alison Pill) come home to find their son Ozzy (Cooper Dodson) and babysitter Winter (Billie Lourd) playing with a guinea pig. As horrified as they are at the violation of their no pet rule, they're even more upset when they find out that the pet's name is not politically correct. 

 

 

Oz: Mom. Okay. Mama, look.

Ally: Oh, sweetie. How cute. Uh, Winter, I'm sorry. I don't think we ever had the conversation, but we have a strict no pets rule in this house

Ivy: Ally's very sensitive to dander. 

Ally: Well, we all are. So I think it's best if you, you know, just take him back home. 

Winter: He's not my Guinea pig, he's Oz's. 

Ozzy: His name is Mr. Guinea.

Ally: Sweetie. Come on. You know we don't like cisnormative pet names. 

Winter: Why do you have rules about pet names if you never have pets?

Ally: It's the principle.

Ozzy: But he's a boy.

Yes, Ozzy, he is a boy. Moreover, he couldn't care less if his name is gendered, let alone cisnormative. Unfortunately, Mr. Guinea met with an untimely end in this episode, so we will not get to find out if his (apologies for the cisnormative pronouns) name is ever changed to something that meets social justice standards. 

We are only three weeks into AHS: Cult and, already, the political comments and references are stacking up. In a Ryan Murphy vehicle, this is to be expected and, knowing this season would deal with the election, it was even more so. Still, I don't think anyone bet on "gender identity in rodents" being on the table. One can hardly wait to see what hard-hitting issues Americans care about come up next week.


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