When American Horror Story returns for season 7 this fall, don’t expect ghosts or witches to haunt your television screen. Welcome to American Horror Story: Election.
Update (February 25): Prayers have been answered. American Horror Story: Election is off the table. Sort of. Ryan Murphy has stated in a speech given at the Publicists Guild Awards Luncheon that season 7 will not feature Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton as characters. However, does that mean everything he said was a lie?
In his original statement Ryan teased that the new season would be “based” off of the 2016 Election. This new statement includes the sentiment that “the themes of American Horror Story have always been allegories.” So we might still see elements from the election on our screens. Just not as we originally thought.
Maybe it won’t be so much about the battle for presidency itself and more so about the themes the world witnessed in the election. Every season has its key message. Murder House took roots in infedelity and betrayal. Freak Show told a story about both greed and acceptance. Hotel centered around addiction, insanity, and family. Meanwhile, Roanoke was all about bigotry and hate in all shapes and sizes.
Maybe season 7 will show themes of sexism and homophobia. Maybe our lead will be a tyrannic leader with deep narcissism and disregard for basic human rights. Our screens may show us scandal, anger, and pride. We might be faced with the truth behind what it really means to be authentic. Audiences might see how no secret is ever buried deep enough to withstand eventual exposure.
Either way, fans are going to be pleased to hear that Donald J. Trump won’t be gracing their screens on anything but a news station for now. Ryan Murphy seems to be keeping his promise in keeping this next installment of American Horror Story just as shrouded in secrecy as the last season.
Original Story (February 16): In a plot probably better suited for the sister series, American Crime Story, the horror anthology show by FX will tackle the 2016 Presidential Election. The announcement was made by showrunner Ryan Murphy on Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen late Wednesday night.
The news trended almost immediately. Reactions were hot and diverse among the fandom. Many began to ask the same questions: Is this a joke? Will Jessica Lange return to play Hillary Clinton? Will Dennis O’Hare or Dillon McDermott don a blonde wig and play Trump? How exactly will horror play into the very real events that took place in 2016?
The best answer to that question for me was yet another question: When and how do politics get scary?
It’s hard to believe that we might sit back and watch Donald Trump face demons that haunt the White House. It just isn’t something most could stomach to watch for 12 episodes. The moment when politics scare is when they negatively impact lives. Looking at the 2016 election specifically, there was a tremendous amount of fear that rocked the nation with its shocking outcome. It resulted in riots, marches, and other demonstrations nationwide. This is where my answer for this season lies. Not with the politicians, but with the people.
We know very little regarding the season so far. One thing we are certain of is that Sarah Paulson and Evan Peters will return to running the show as the leads. Maybe their relation to the election may have less to do with politics and more with their personal reactions to it.
Picture a family torn apart by the new presidential regime. Watch as one close-knit group of people turns against each other and are targeted by others that surround them. The real demons of this season may have less to do with serial killers or vampires and more to do with violence against minority groups like the LGBT community and immigrants. These people face very real horrors every day. They fight for a different kind of survival than most are used to.
There are many ways this could play out. Maybe Sarah and Evan will play a brother and sister. Sarah, a young and successful businesswoman considering marriage to her female partner. Evan, a college student in a happy relationship with an immigrant. These two may slowly watch their world fall apart as a result of the presidential election. They may confront horrible violence, harassment, and indecency in the face of hate. We may just watch as a platform used to win the election translates into the real world. Violence against women, racism, homophobia, and narcissism.
Or maybe, just maybe, Hillary Clinton will be written as some crazy underworld monster out to destroy the world. Who knows? We will just have to wait and see.
Nevertheless, it is an odd reveal in American Horror Story history. The timeline is right; Hotel was announced in February of 2015 under the hashtag #GagaAHSHotel. Freak Show wasn’t announced until late March on Murphy’s twitter. Coven was announced at PayleyFest 2013. Meanwhile, Roanoke was kept secret until its premiere in 2016. It seems an odd move to announce the theme so candidly on a late night talk show, which makes many wonder (or hope)…is Ryan for real?
I find it hard to believe that Ryan would announce the theme of the show so offhandedly at Andy Cohen’s trashy talk show when past reveals have been of a much higher caliber. I also have a hard time seeing how this will connect to Freak Show as Murphy has previously stated. Maybe it is all just a red herring. Maybe we will be thrown for a loop once the title card shows up on our TV screens and it is something absolutely different. Or maybe we’ll have to sit through one more season of questionably written content.