American Horror Story is about to get political with a season inspired by the 2016 election, but Ryan Murphy says it's not meant to be an attack on Trump.
"[The season] is really is about the cult of personality that can rise in a divisive society — and I hope that people can figure that out," Murphy said at a recent press event attended by The Hollywood Reporter.
"Our feeling is that everybody lost their shit after the election — Republican, Democrat — and everybody's still losing their shit, and nobody's really figured out from either side where to put those feelings," the showrunner explained. "There is no real discussion. Everybody's still at each other's throats, you're either on one side or you're on the other. The season really is not about Trump, it's not about Clinton. It's about somebody who has the wherewithal to put their finger up in the wind and see that that's what's happening and is using that to rise up and form power, and using people's vulnerabilities about how they're afraid and don't know where to turn, and they feel like the world is on fire."
The season begins on election night and uses actual footage of Trump and Clinton. Sarah Paulson and Evan Peters play characters on opposite sides of the political spectrum who react to Trump's win accordingly. Murphy emphasized that the characters have strong views about Trump and Clinton, but his goal is to depict how a cult-like mentality can emerge when our society is deeply divided.
Murphy, a vocal Clinton supporter, says many conservative fans of American Horror Story assumed that his own political beliefs would heavily influence the season. After reading tweets from the audience Murphy said, "People have the wrong idea already about what it's going to be. People in the Rust Belt who have loved the show [are tweeting], 'I'm out. I can't believe that you're tackling this.' They don't understand that every side on our show gets it just as much... I think that we've been very careful to be fair."
The key question of this season is, "how did Trump get elected?" Like many others, Murphy was shocked by the GOP candidate's unexpected electoral college victory.
"What did he tap into as a candidate? We don't have to say that we love or hate Trump, but we were interested in his rise and how that happened," he said. "I feel that in this country, probably in my own bubble, there was a sense with the election of Barack Obama, like, 'Oh, things are changing; people are getting along; diversity is happening.' That's when my career started to happen. So, I felt really shocked by what happened, and then, looking at it in the writing, I realized I shouldn't have been so shocked. I should have understood more."