American Horror Story has a history of mixing reality with fiction, with some seasons being much more rooted in actual terrifying events and others being more focused on invented narratives. And now that we're on the advent of a new season, fans are wondering which way this season will fall: Just how real is the cult in American Horror Story? Well, although the promos are filled with seemingly nonsensical clowns and bees, AHS: Cult will actually be more grounded in reality than most of the past seasons. Let's go over all the real aspects of the new season and the invented ones.
The Real Stuff
Right from the first bit of news we heard about American Horror Story: Cult, it sounded like the new season would be taking a much more realistic turn. Ryan Murphy announced the new season would kick off on the night of the 2016 presidential election, and Trump's election would inform the theme of the season. After the subtitle of Cult was revealed, it spurred fans to theorize the new season would play with the idea of the Illuminati, or other conspiracy theories about powerful groups that control the country.
It was also recently revealed that the new season would feature a number of real cult leaders throughout American history. Murphy said Evan Peters will be portraying all of these historical characters, which include Charles Manson, Jim Jones, David Koresh, and Andy Warhol, among others. Of course, these men did actually exist in real life, but since Peters will be playing all of them, most fans are assuming they'll actually exist as multiple personalities or hallucinations in the head of his character.
One last little bit of reality may come in the prevalence of creepy clowns we keep seeing in promos for the new season. No — a creepy cult of clowns doesn't exist in reality (to my knowledge), but you might recall the "killer clown" craze in the news last year. For whatever reason, a lot of people were dressing up as clowns and committing murders in 2016, which sounds a lot like what AHS may be emulating.
So far, everything aside from the 2016 election and the portrayal of real cult leaders seems to be invented by Murphy and his writing team. Although the killer clowns may be inspired by real news stories from last year, a clown cult is a totally new concept. The show has also revealed all the names of its main characters this season, and none of them are historical figures. The only character to exist in real life is Lena Dunham's role — she'll be playing radical feminist author Valerie Solanas, who tried to kill Andy Warhol in the '60s. As mentioned above, Warhol will be portrayed by Evan Peters.
From the sound of things, American Horror Story: Cult will focus on a completely invented storyline influenced by the real events of the 2016 election and a few real cult leaders. Murphy will be linking the history of cults in America to the present-day political climate through his own, created story about a cult of clowns. American Horror Story: Cult premieres on September 5.