Last night was the premiere episode of American Horror Story’s 7th season and as always, it did not disappoint. As with each season, we are given a new theme, this one being “cult.” And apparently, it’s also going to involve clowns. More accurately, a cult full of people who dress as clowns, led by a man named Kai (Evan Peters) at least, it seems that way.
Sarah Paulson (I fucking love her) plays a woman named Ally, she has a wife named Ivy (Alison Pill) and together they have a son named Oz (Cooper Dodson). The series starts the night of the 2017 election, with Trump being elected and, just like in real life, the misery and devastation that followed. Being members of the LGBTQ community, Ally and Ivy are both particularly upset (and rightfully so) about the results.
This may not seem like that big of a deal, but Ally already has a fragile psyche — suffering from extreme paranoia and severe phobias — including a long running fear of clowns. The election results weigh so heavily on her that she begins to suffer a psychotic break. At least, we think that’s what’s going on.
But there are other forces at work. Forces such as Kai, a very angry and very disturbed man, who leads a group of other very angry and very disturbed people, including his sister, Winter (Billie Lourd). After the election, we see Kai walking through a large house with many, many doors, and eventually he ends up in Winter’s room. I’m pretty sure those doors belong to other followers, which was a really nice touch.
Something this show has always done well is it’s portrayal of mental illness and the reactions to those dealing with it, as well as their loved ones. Ally begins to suffer delusions of clowns chasing her. They are so real that she even crashes her car trying to escape a supposed clown that was trying to kill her. Ivy, who knows Ally has a history of delusions and struggles before, initially does her best to be supportive. Delusions like these make for good horror, but they are also very real. The breakdown Ally is experiencing is a very real thing. Ivy doing her best to support her but also struggling to care for their son and keep their business going is also a very real thing. That’s part of what makes it so terrifying. This is something that can happen.
That being said, I really think the creators and writers of American Horror Story hate therapists. In any season where there is a therapist, they just…suck. They are just the worst and Ally’s therapist (Cheyenne Jackson) is no exception. Maybe that wasn’t the intent, but that’s the impression I got.
Since this season is focusing on the “cult” theme, I think we’re going to see a lot of “cult mentality.” We already see it in Winter, but she is just one of many followers of Kai. Following the election, Winter is clearly distraught about the results, while Kai is ecstatic (though it isn’t because he supports Trump, it goes deeper than that). Despite her anger towards Kai and towards the election results, she still bends to his will without a fight. She even does as she’s asked with infiltrating Ally and Ivy’s home as the new nanny for Oz. Billie Lourd blew me away, honestly. I thought Evan Peters killed his role (which he did) but damn, Lourd’s portrayal of Winter is intense and she is scary.
You know what’s more scary though?
Clowns. I fucking HATE clowns. I feel like that’s common among the general populous nowadays. Clowns are portrayed as terrifying, evil beings in most media. With the success and praise for Twisty the Clown (AHS Season 4: Freakshow), it makes sense that they would bring that idea (and him) back but times 10. Also, Twisty does make an appearance, but it isn’t the way you think, I’ll leave it at that.
At first, the clowns seem to be completely in Ally’s head, and I think at times they are, however, we see them later and they are very real and very murderous. Although, even then I question it because while I think Winter is super fucked up and dangerous, I’m still not sure what Oz really saw. I mean, I saw it myself with him, but this show likes to mess with your head, so I’m even taking that with a grain of salt. Did he see clowns commit the murder, or did he just see people? Did he really see the murder at all? Again, while it’s likely he truly did, I’m still keeping my skepticisms just in case.
Overall, I give this season premiere a 9.5 / 10.
I think the only thing that really bothered me was the relationship between Kai and Winter. It’s not that it made me uncomfortable (I mean, it totally did, but it’s supposed to) but I didn’t understand it. So, I know they’re brother and sister. I know because the internet and casting information told me so. But if I went in blind, I would have had no fucking clue. There is nothing about their interactions that are brotherly or sisterly. Winter actually seems like she hates Kai to an extent, but yet here she is, following his every command. I’m sure we’ll get in to their history though as the show progresses.
This season is off to a great start, so if you haven’t watched episode 1, make sure you do. And be sure to tune in to FX next Tuesday for episode 2.
American Horror Story: Cult airs Tuesday nights at 1o p.m. on FX.