Are you afraid of bees? Clowns straight out of Hot Topic? White people in sombreros? Wasted bottles of rose? Beautiful but creepy middle upper class homes? Reliving the night of the 2016 election???
If you answered yes or no or maybe to any of those questions, American Horror Story: Cult may or may not be for you. If you giggled at any or all of those questions, it's definitely for you.
The first thing you need to know about American Horror Story: Cult is that it's not the show you think it is, and the second thing you need to know about it is that it's hilarious. Sarah Paulson throws bottles of rose at clowns having sex on top of produce. Billy Eichner and Leslie Grossman are presidents of the Nicole Kidman fan club (Have you seen Big Little Lies though??). People get brutally murdered by clowns (LOL).
Cult does begin with the results of the 2016 presidential election. Ally (Paulson), her wife Ivy (Alison Pill), and their multicultural friends are all screaming and crying in their very nice living room as Trump wins. Kai (Evan Peters) is humping his TV in celebration of the revolution in the basement. His millennial sister Winter (Billie Lourd) is upstairs nearly in tears.
Soon, Ally is possessed by the phobias she thought she had conquered back in college, and both she and her son are seeing clowns everywhere. Lucky or not for all of us, these aren't your typical demented birthday party clowns. These clowns look like they belong to some kind of secret and murdery goth society that learned how to make masks by watching Floop's Fooglies (the creepy TV show from Spy Kids, obviously).
As Ally's fears completely take over and other people start to become afraid of her, Kai is always there with a smile and a "have a nice day," and given that we already know Kai becomes a cult leader (and that Peters is playing multiple cult leaders this season), it's not hard to see what's going to happen next.
The best and the worst thing about all of it is that it's scary in a way this show has never really been before. There's not a single supernatural element happening here (so far according to what we've seen, and at all, according to Ryan Murphy), which almost makes it scarier. Every scare is either human or a fear-enhanced hallucination, and you can't always tell which one it is.
You begin to really feel Ally's phobias, even when you don't share them. Clusters of holes have never scared us before, but through Ally's eyes, they become terrifying. This isn't ghosts or aliens or witches or ancient spirits—it's real, relatable, and all the more horrific because of it.
And as for the politics, whichever side of the spectrum you're on, there's something to relate to and something to laugh at here. The show isn't actually about politics or what actually happened in 2016, but it's more about the heightened state we all find ourselves in after such a divisive election.
Sure, Evan Peters does take a moment to smear blended Cheetos (er, generic cheese puffs) all over his face before working on his presidential impression in the mirror, but who hasn't been tempted to do that at least once this year?
American Horror Story: Cult airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on FX.