After what has felt like a very protracted promotional cycle, a trailer has been released for American Horror Story: Cult, providing the clearest glimpse yet into what will likely be a very bad season of television.
The details surrounding what this season will be about have been few and far between, but what we do know doesn’t sound great: It’s going to tackle the 2016 election; two Billy(ie)s will star (Eichner and Lourd), as well as Lena Dunham; the opening credits feature clowns and blood and both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump masks. Adding to my sneaking suspicion that this season will be a train wreck is the extensive and overwrought interactive marketing campaign that involved a website which slowly revealed clues as well as a Facebook Messenger choose-your-own-adventure game which was likely supposed to be frightening but was actually just kind of sad.
What the trailer reveals is really less than encouraging: Sarah Paulson screams in melodramatic horror at the election results; Evan Peters has blue hair and humps a television playing the exact same results in ecstasy; Cheyenne Jackson is a handsome therapist who Paulson visits with complaints of recurring, worsening coulrophobia, or fear of clowns. Billie Lourd is a nanny with evil intentions who hates children but loves clowns. It looks like Murphy took all the news stories about clown sightings before the election, shoved it in a blender with the election itself and produced some sort of schlocky, horror-adjacent commentary on...what? Society’s downfall? The end of democracy? Why Evan Peters should have longer hair all the time because it kind of suits him?
According to Murphy himself, “[Cult is] about illuminating and highlighting people who don’t have a voice in our culture — people who are ignored by the current administration and who are afraid and feel terrorized that their lives are going to be taken away.” Hmm.
Are you ready for Ryan Murphy’s take on politics? I’m not, but it looks like we don’t have a choice.