TV Review - American Horror Story: Cult
A couple of years ago, this series did a story about a killer clown named Twisty. For no real reason, a scene involving Twisty is injected here. It has no consequence, except to have blood and gore. In the scene, a guy pulls out a handgun in a pastoral setting and shoots Twisty multiple times to no avail. Twisty proceeds to butcher them, but it doesn't matter. There was no reason to have it. Murphy and Falchuk may make it relevant later, but it didn't in the first four episodes.
Clearly, Murphy and Falchuk want this series to be a satire of Trump's presidency and the campaign that gave rise to what Hillary Clinton called "the basket of deplorables." It's not a bad idea. Arguably, Trump's campaign was based in fear and anger, so this series wants to take that to its disgusting extreme, except not in ways that make that much sense. Yes, it plays on the fears of white liberals, but muddies the water about what the takeaway should be.
Sarah Paulson (The People Vs. O.J. Simpson and Carol) stars as Ally Mayfair-Richards, a lesbian living in Brookfield Heights, a suburban area in Michigan. She co-owns and manages a restaurant and meat processor downtown called Butchery on Main. She co-owns it with her wife, Ivy, played by Alison Pill (Midnight in Paris and Milk). Ivy is a chef. They have a son named Ozzie, played by Cooper Dodson. Ozzie is around 11 or 12.
The series begins on November 8, 2016 after Trump wins the presidency. Ally has an extreme reaction. She breaks down and cries. She goes to her therapist, Dr. Vincent, played by Cheyenne Jackson (30 Rock and Glee) who reveals that the election has triggered Ally's phobias, including coulrophobia, the fear of clowns. This is exacerbated when a series of murders starts happening in her neighborhood by people in clown masks.
The rest of the series becomes not unlike FOX's The Following where it becomes about who else is a part of this clown cult. Surprisingly or not, some cult members are in the police force. Others are in the news media. Murphy and Falchuk are obviously making the statement of how some in both those institutions are complicit in Trump's rise to power, but again, the show muddies the water of what it's trying to say.
In the second episode, there is a blackout in town and everyone loses electricity. Because of the murders, Ally gets a gun for protection from her new neighbor, Harrison, played by Billy Eichner (Difficult People and Parks and Recreation). Thinking someone was in her house, she grabs the gun and tries to escape with Ozzie. Ivy was at the restaurant and sends a kitchen worker named Pedro to the house where Ally accidentally shoots him dead.
The Zimmerman case, in a lot of ways, kicked off the Black Lives Matter movement. For this series to invoke that name and not have it be about a black person muddies the water. Murphy and Falchuk can dismiss this criticism as it's just about a crazy, clown cult, ginning up fear and killing people. In that, it's more effective and blunt than the recent hit film It (2017), but that doesn't make it interesting or compelling.
Running Time: 1 hr.
Tuesdays at 10PM on FX.