If it’s one thing Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk’s AMERICAN HORROR STORY has taught us it’s to always expect the unexpected… and nothing could have been more unexpected than Murphy’s recent announcement that the show’s seventh season would be covering a recent slice of terrifying history: the 2016 presidential election.
Murphy later went on to clarify that the show would only take cues from the past US election cycle, and that a certain perma-tanned wannabe despot would not be featured as a character… so the election itself won’t be the explicit focal point of next season; rather it will be a narrative with real-world variants, cloaked in layers of allegorical storytelling.
I already suspected this… and along with the release of their topically-charged films like GET OUT and THE BELKO EXPERIMENT, Blumhouse has also weighed in extensively on socio-political themes in horror [including an awesome SHOCK WAVES episode with fantastic actress and sublime genre writer Brea Grant], and the new AHS season is no exception — as more details emerge, the show will surely ignite another hotbed of debate among genre fans.
On January 20, 2016, as US President Elect Donald Trump began his transition into power, he would be the latest occupant of the Oval Office; the so-called “Liberal Elite” — i.e. LGBTQ people, people of color, immigrants and women’s rights groups — felt that the sliding scale they were precariously balanced upon had suddenly flipped over, plunging them into a Orwellian dystopia. It’s a clichéd phrase, but still applies: truth is often more terrifying than fiction.
It seems like Season 7 will be the most politically resonant and (fingers crossed) provocative AMERICAN HORROR STORY season in recent years… but what could all this mean within the interconnected worlds of the AHS-Verse? I’ve previously written about the political dimensions of the series, and how satisfyingly progressive I thought AMERICAN HORROR STORY: ROANOKE was, but I’ve always wanted the creators to embrace those dimensions with a bit more gusto, and more overt political undercurrents.
To that end, I’d like to speculate about how these concepts could play out: Might there be characters on the periphery of the real-life election? Or are we getting an epic-scale, alternate universe version of events, with our characters at the core of a monstrous election in some kind of Hell Dimension?
Let’s imagine a few ways it could go down within that universe…
AMERICAN HORROR STORY: DYSTOPIA
(Notable influences: SALO, THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS, THE FLY, THE DEVIL’S BACKBONE)
It is 2019, and two years since a Republican Bill was passed that rescinded the rights of LGBTQ people. The Administration in San Francisco now makes Putin’s Russia look tame: Correction Schools have been established, and it is mandatory for LGBTQ kids (known as “The Uncorrected”) between the ages of 13 and 24 to attend.
When street hustler Tim inadvertently causes the death of his best friend, he is sent to the infamous school of discipline known as Mockingbird House. Expecting razor-wire fencing, grey walls and brutish guards, he is pleasantly surprised to find that Mockingbird is an “open prison” surrounded by forests. But behind this facade, there are grotesque reprogramming experiments in the basement, and not-quite-dead beings in the walls… while Edwina Brodie, Mistress of the House, only wants to keep her students nourished for their “alterations.”
AMERICAN HORROR STORY: GHOST THREADS ACROSS AMERICA (A DOCUMENTARY)
This Blumhouse production is the company’s latest venture: a documentary that will take the SHOCK WAVES crew across America on a six-week tour of some of the most famous murder sites in the States. We felt it was only fair to send them on an extended jaunt to escape a world of President Trump. Editor-in-Chief Rebekah McKendry and SHOCK WAVES co-hosts Rob Galluzzo, Elric Kane and Ryan Turek will be taking a few days off at both the Murder House and Hotel Cortez; Gregory Burkart, John Humphrey, Dave McKendry and Stephen Johnson will be exploring the ruins of Briarcliff Asylum; regular BH contributors Alyse Wax, Amanda Tullos and Alan Kelly will explore the legendary “Witch War of New Orleans,” before heading to Virginia to check out the alleged last known location of The Roanoke Colony, site of multiple murders last year. What’s the worst that could happen?
AMERICAN HORROR STORY: ITINERARY
(Notable Influences: JACOB’S LADDER, INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS, FROM BEYOND)
The year is 1954, and Jack Finney is celebrating the success of his Cold War allegory THE BODY SNATCHERS, when he is approached by the young niece of a former colleague… who claims his novel mirrors what is actually happening in Milwaukee. Initially skeptical about her claim, Finney starts to grow uneasy when he can’t make contact with family and friends, so he decides to accompany her back to his hometown. But there is one stipulation — the girl must hand over the bound manuscript she’s been holding onto… which she claims will reveal the real story!
AMERICAN HORROR STORY: PROTOTYPE
(Notable Influences: SEVEN, DREDD, GATTACA)
Present Day: Out of a hundred dangerously psychotic patients undergoing “Cure for Psychopathy” trials in New Mexico Neuroscience Research Facility, only ten have been selected to enter the “Prototype Program.” Five men and women wishing to reintegrate into society will spend ten days among a selection of non-psychopathic “others” who have signed up for the program. Under constant surveillance, the chosen ten are required to blend in and become a part of the world again; meanwhile, the signatory participants — which include families, individuals and the facility’s staff — are kept unaware of the psychopaths’ identities and their crimes.