Creepy clowns, high anxiety and intense political opinions are the ingredients for a perfect new villain and a perfect discussion.
Is there anyone on earth that has actually combined creepy as hell clowns and politics in the same thought? Well apparently showrunner Ryan Murphy has, and it led to one hell of a compelling season premiere to the seventh series of American Horror Story. As usual for the first episodes of each new season of this show, it was an organized mishmosh of new characters and story lines that have yet to come together into one idea. However, politics, clowns, anxiety and phobias seem to have created some kind of potential winning combination. The compelling direction of Sarah Paulson and Evan Peters new characters kept us all glued to our televisions and ready to tune in next week.
As if emotions and anxieties haven’t been high enough thanks to the election, they have to go and add a few irrational fears (aka phobias) to the story of the season. This season the story centers around not just the physical enemies that are in our society, but also the crippling ones that are in our minds. The neighbor (or babysitter) aren’t the only bad guys we have to watch out for this season, so are the fears that grip us tight in our head and won’t let us go. So enough with the hand holding. It’s time to meet the cult leaders and get on to business. Here we go…
Charles (@iAmCEMJ) – Horror and AHS fan
Yana – Mermaid human, scary story enthusiast, currently writing too much about TV.
Pau – Horror and AHS fan
Hayden (@ahsnews_feed) – Admin of the AHS news page, pop culture addict and AHS superfan
Sky (@MzSkyZy) – AHS addict, bureaucrat and Admin on the American Gods Wiki
Candace (@jaxthevampire) – Writer for TV After Dark, professional nerd, scare enthusiast
1. What do you think of this year’s AHS theme?
Charles: This theme is amazing. As Ryan said, “It isn’t about Ducknald or Hillary” but more so about releasing the personalities of everyone out there during this time.
Yana: I would have to see more of it come together before I decide. I heard that we would see Evan Peters as different cult leaders in history and that plays more into the theme, I’m holding out hope for that.
Pau: It’s a bold and interesting theme, different from what we’ve seen so far. The combination of a cult with the most recent American elections claims for attention giving a sense of reality to the audience, and that allows us to feel inside our TV.
Hayden: I think at first we all were skeptical when Ryan Murphy announced that this season is going to be about the election but now I’m actually pretty happy to have a season that is a bit political because politics are a part of our life and we can’t ignore that. This show always plays with the zeitgeist and this year they are really taking it to a whole other level and I’m here for it. The fandom always wanted a cult season and although it probably different in comparison to what we imagined, I really like the way they are doing it this year.
Sky: It’s an interesting premise and keeps true to the overall theme of *American* horror. I’m not really sure what to think yet but I’m already liking the tie-ins with previous seasons.
Candace: I love the music. It’s very western and it makes me think of the old Clint Eastwood movies when he’s about to duel someone. I half expect Hillary and Trump to duel each other halfway through the season. The title sequence itself is creepy and unsettling as usual. Clowns, blood, the carnival as well as little bits from all the promos over the last two months, like the bees on a honeycomb. I’m not exactly sure how all these things fit into the same story, but it gets me into the right vibe to watch every episode.
2. The first ten minutes said a lot about how most of us feel with the current political climate. Did you think it was accurate?
Charles: LITERALLY ME that night excluding the screaming lol. I was in shock though. Couldn’t believe my eyes honey, okaaaaay!
Yana: It was dramatized a bit much but I think the way this election changed things is real. I do think people were watching it as closely and a lot was tied to who would win.
Pau: I think it wasn’t only accurate, it was the best opening 10 minutes that the series has given us so far. It recreates the terrible scenery perfectly, showing the both sides of the currency, cleverly edited. The best part of the episode.
Hayden: I mean of course the first 10 minutes are a bit over the top but in the end I think , it was a good representation of what is going on in this country right now. I think what is important this season is that they highlight not only one side but all side, the fear and also the euphoria. This country is divided and Kai and Ally perfectly represent that.
Sky: Yes. A bit understated maybe. The majority of the country did not vote for this apocalypse yet it’s being forced upon the world anyway.
Candace: I may not have screamed and cried like Ally, but I was certainly feeling the same exactly shock and underlying fear. Although since election night, my feelings have turned from fear and worry to a sense of preparedness. But overall, I think they nailed it on the head. A lot of people were upset that night, and since. When Ryan Murphy said they were going to tackle the election with this season I was a little skeptical, but I really like where they are going with it so far.
3. Which phobia presented in the episode affects you the most in real life?
Charles: Coulrophobia. I went to Halloweekends at Cedar Point in Sandusky in 2010 I had to be like 13. I got chased through smoke by a clown and nearly peed on myself.
Yana: Definitely being terrified of clowns. The way media portrays clowns has made me not want to be near them for sure. And that whole thing a few months back where Twitter kept circulating videos of random clowns in the woods or on roads as people drove didn’t exactly help.
Pau: I don’t suffer trypophobia but I have a huge respect towards it. Besides, who doesn’t love colors and killer clowns? My decision is clear this time: holes are the scariest phobia of them all.
Hayden: I am not as scared of clowns, holes and blood as Ally but I do understand that she is afraid to loose her family because of her many different and complicated phobias. I think it is horrible to be in this situation because on one hand you try to conquer your fears and on the other hand you are confronted with your fears everyday and nobody really believes you.
Sky: I don’t have any extreme phobias but I am a bit of an agoraphobic and will avoid a lot of places because they’re too crowded and/or overwhelming for me. One of my friends is an acrophobic and reaches Ally’s level of terror when it comes to heights.
Candace: Honestly, none. Although as a kid I did used to be terrified of clowns (thanks to the TV movie IT that aired when I was a kid), that doesn’t affect me anymore. As for trypophobia, I didn’t even know that was a thing that people could actually be scared of. I couldn’t even imagine living with that kind of phobia and my feelings go out to anyone that actually suffers from it. I’m a pretty tough bitch, so the only kind of phobia that I suffer from is a very strong dislike of bugs.
4. AHS: Cult has an exquisite cast. Whose performance stood out to you most in the premiere?
Charles: Jessica Lange. (Honorable Mention) But really, Sarah Paulson never lets me down. I just love her so much I can’t wait to see more of Evan Peters.
Yana: Billie Lourd. I loved her in Scream Queens but it wasn’t until I saw her again in AHS that I realized how much I like to see her on my screen. Especially this character she has taken on, it is really great when she takes on these characters that don’t sit quite right with you at first yet they are so interesting. She is definitely the one I’ll be looking out for most, and maybe Evan Peters because they are really making sure we hate him.
Pau: Both Evan Peters and Sarah Paulson offered the biggest performances of the night, but I think that the first ‘acting battle’ has been won by her. Billie Lourd did a good job and I’m sure that she will get better and better as the season goes on. I’m sure Cheyenne’s character has some twists to show in the future chapters, but Allison Pill is the one who doesn’t convince me (…Lily Rabe would have been better). Finally, let’s not forget about our beloved Twisty (John Caroll Lynch): his acting was as mesmerizing as in Freak Show.
Hayden: I think the acting on this show has always been exceptional. Evan and Sarah are doing an AMAZING job this year ( as always ) and I’m so interested to see what happens next with their characters. What I love about this season is that we have a lot of newcomers. Billie Lourd is already ICONIC as Winter, I have the feeling Ivy might not be as innocent as she seems and I can’t wait for Leslie Grossman and Billy Eichner.
Sky: Sarah Paulson is always so fantastic, however, in this episode, I couldn’t take my eyes off Alison Pill. I don’t think I’ve heard of her before but she was so heartfelt and emotive. I’m going to have to see what else she’s been in.
Candace: Sarah Paulson gets all the aces from me this week! Honestly, she’s always fantastic in this show, but I’m really excited to see her tackle a character that suffers from such high and extreme anxieties and phobias. Although I don’t suffer from any kind of social anxieties myself, I know plenty of people that do and from what they told me, her portrayal of this character and the cinematography used in the episode is SPOT ON to what it feels like on the mind to suffer from such things. So bravo writers, you guys are doing awesome so far.
5. Talk about extreme anxiety… Did you feel bad for Ally, or did you get annoyed at her behavior?
Charles: YES I FELT BAD! But she voted for (love her as well) Jill Stein. The latte was deserved lol. Hillary needed that vote sis.
Yana: Annoyed. This was definitely meant to speak on moments where people got a little too wrapped up in what happened, which manifested in Ally a lot. But also when you bring in phobias you have to understand as an audience member what that fear must feel like. We understand that it might not be real or she might be making it worse by reacting like that, but she can’t handle it.
Pau: I would probably get annoyed at her behavior if it was portrayed by any other actress. Sarah Paulson is capable of making the audience empathize with her even if she is screaming 60% of the time. That’s her brilliance.
Hayden: I feel bad for Ally. No one really understands and believes her. I have the feeling Ally tries everything to lose her fears again and may even join the cult. What I think is pretty clear is, that she will change a lot as the season moves forward.
Sky: I feel bad for her. She’s obviously going through a psychotic break and needs support. If she doesn’t actively pursue help, then I’ll get annoyed but she went to her therapist and she has a prescription so she’s at least trying.
Candace: I feel for her, because I know how gripping that level of anxiety can be on a person. It’s not something that just goes away overnight. It takes a lot of support from people you are close to and professional help to be able to not only manage it, but to be able to live normally with it. Situations may change where someone actually “grows out” of those anxieties, but a lot people live with them their whole life. I’m really HYPED that this is the kind of “horror” that this series is tackling this year. It’s a menace of the mind, not just some serial killer or ghost.
6. What in the world is up with Winter?!
Charles: ONE WORD……….ICONIC
Yana: I don’t know but I’d love to find out. She is working with her brother (?) but I don’t know if it is out of fear or something else is stirring there. She is preparing the little kid for something though, making him fearful and trying to get him to face his fears.
Pau: Did the writers create a babysitter who shows videos to a child of people being murdered? es, they did. And she’s awesome. I think she will have a key role and her actions will decide how this story ends.
Hayden: Winter is such an interesting character and probably my favorite one this year. No one really knows if we are supposed to like her or if she is as evil as her brother. Is she just so just to do what her brother wants from her or does she all do that on purpose? It’s definitely going to be super interesting to see what’s really up with her and I can’t wait to see more of her in the next episodes. PRAISE THE LORD
Sky: I don’t know! What is up with her and Kai? Are they siblings? Are they in a cult? I am so confused. What’s with the pinky confessional? Was she really pro-HRC or is that also part of this plan to drive Ally over the brink? Is that what they’re even doing? Who are the other clowns or is the kid, Oz, also having a psychotic break?
Candace: First off, she has a kick ass name. Winter. And although she’s clearly not going to be the best person to trust on the show (HELLO. Not only did she show videos of people getting killed to a little kid WTF, but she actually dragged him to a murder scene to show him people getting murdered! WHAT), but she’s going to be a badass. And whether good or bad, I love me a badass woman on a television show. Although I’m not quite sure yet what’s going on between her Kai, but she’s clearly going to be a tough little cookie the whole season.
7. Overall first impression of the season?
Charles: Honey, I AM HOOKED I loved it! Can’t wait to see more!
Yana: I need to know more. There were actors and aspects that I liked but plot wise the show can struggle sometimes. It shouldn’t go over the top but it should also manage to make sense.
Pau: It looks like this time, unlike in season six, they know what they’re doing. And they are doing it well. The hidden metaphor of the season alone, makes it worth-watching: ghosts, vampires, aliens, demons… they aren’t the biggest horror… The biggest terror of American Horror Story are the Americans themselves and the decisions they made. 8’5/10.
Hayden: I think I’m going to be a huge fan of this season. Although I am a huge fan of supernatural elements, I really like that this season is more “real” . Cult seems like a very twisty season and I think we’re all going to be shocked when we find out, who is behind those masks!
Sky: I never have any idea of what is happening until usually the third or fourth episode and this season is no different. It’s in line with all the previous seasons: quirky, gory, chaotic, and a bit cliched (purposely, maybe). It managed to get me watching for another season.
Candace: I’m not really sure what exactly is going on yet this season, I’ll need a couple more episodes to decide that. But so far, I’m in. I love Winter and I want to see what other troubles she is going to cause. I am just loving Sarah Paulson’s performance of Ally and I am compelled enough to keep watching. And Kai is an absolutely asshole, and Evan Peters always has me glued to my screen to see what’s going to happen to his characters next. I had my doubts about this season, but so far those are out the window and I’m here for the direction they are going.
Final Verdict: Things are about to get a little icky
How do politics, anxiety and clowns on skateboards mix? In a way only AHS can bring you. We think the best part of this episode and will probably be one of the best parts of this season is how much anxiety plays into the storyline. It is crippling for the main character Ally (Sarah Paulson), so much so that she not only goes to therapy, but it has interrupted her work, her marriage and her relationship with her son. Sarah Paulson’s performance was fantastic, accurately showing how much fears and anxiety can truly affect someone’s life. But it wasn’t just the performance. In addition to that, the cinematography, using strange angles and going in and out of focus making the audience seem uncomfortable and off balance we think gave a taste of what people with anxiety actually go through everyday, and it was brilliant.
The first episode of each season always suffers from the same dilemma: “So…what the hell is going on?” The audience never quite knows what is happening yet, and that could be a good or a bad thing. It may peak their interest, or they may already be passing on the season. When it comes to American Horror Story there are two kinds of people: Some like to know what’s going on immediately, and others that prefer to get information in pieces. Which are you? After only one episode there are are so many unanswered questions that we’re forced to tune in again out of pure curiosity to see what happens next. Whether that’s actually a good or a bad thing, it’s up to the individual.
Personally, we really need to see what’s going on with these creepy ass clowns. Are they real, or just Ally’s hallucination? We’re not so sure yet. How do they tie into the main story line? Not too sure. Are Kai and Winter siblings and what kind of power or influence does he have over her? All of these questions are things we want answered and are the reason we will be tuning in next week. How about you?
So what’s going on with the creepy clowns?We’re sure we are not the only one that is curious about what’s going on with those clowns. Are they real, or just an hallucination? If they are real, who is underneath the masks? Join us for next week’s roundtable for our scene stealers, favorite moments and fangirl freak outs… and hopefully some answers about the clowns.