We knew it wouldn’t take long for episodic television and cinema to begin to reflect the seismic events of American politics that have been reverberating around the globe since the Presidential election in November 2016. Thankfully, one of the first to respond was Ryan Murphy and his American Horror Story team – lining up the seventh season of the highly acclaimed FX series with a focus on the cult of personality.
But aside from theme, the scrutiny surrounding Murphy’s anthology show always centres on the cast, and the characters they’ll play. Thus far, the show’s creator has played his cards very close to his chest, but with the new season set to premiere on September 5th, and rumours and speculation reaching fever pitch, Murphy has provided some clarification during a Q&A session at Fox studios with FX CEO John Landgraf.
First off, we now know that Lena Dunham will star in episode 7 as the infamous radical feminist Valerie Solonas, who tried to murder Andy Warhol.
“It’s about female rage and that’s in the country now. Solanas wrote the Scum Manifesto. She told all women to kill men, and it was their only way to rise to power.”
Andy Warhol will be one of several cult leaders played by Evan Peters – the others including Charles Manson, David Koresh, and Jim Jones. This prospect gives the clearest indication yet of where Ryan Murphy’s taking the season, using the U.S. election as inspiration.
“It’s not about Trump and Clinton (this season). It’s about somebody who put their finger up to the wind and rose up in power and used people’s vulnerabilities, and they feel the world is on fire.”
The point being that, while the scale of the occurrence is unprecedented this time, the cult of personality – which arguably led to the election of reality TV star Donald Trump – has regularly occurred throughout social history. Presumably, the show will highlight the strikingly similar conditions – both large scale and small scale – that are needed in order to allow these cult leaders to rise to power.
That – perhaps more than any other – is now certainly an American Horror Story.