Previous seasons of FX’s anthology series American Horror Story have dealt with a range of terrifying concepts: grisly murders, haunted asylums, demonic possession, and witches, to name a few. The next season, according to the show’s creator, will be about the most topical American horror story of all: the 2016 US presidential election.
Ryan Murphy, who co-created American Horror Story in 2011 and remains its executive producer, said last night that the upcoming seventh season of the series will be in some way related to the recent election. “The season that we begin shooting in June is going to be about the election that we just went through,” he told Andy Cohen on the talk show Watch What Happens Live. “So I think that will be interesting for a lot of people.”
When asked if the show will feature a “Donald Trump” character, Murphy coyly replied, “Maybe.”
It’s unclear precisely what Murphy means when he says the new season will be “about” the election. Will it be a literal reenactment of the campaign and its aftermath, or will it merely explore some of the frightening themes that emerged over the last year in politics?
Many of the bizarro stories depicted on American Horror Story are, in part, based on true events. But none have been about something as real or as relevant as the 2016 US presidential election.
We reached out to FX for clarification on Murphy’s comments, but absent that, here are a few predictions on how American Horror Story could go about rendering the election as a horror TV show (if it wasn’t one already):
Kathy Bates as Donald Trump
The veteran actress has appeared in four of the six American Horror Story seasons already, winning an Emmy for portraying the real-life New Orleans socialite (and alleged serial killer) Madame LaLaurie in American Horror Story: Coven. While she hasn’t been confirmed to return for the upcoming season, it seems likely that she will.
If so, she should totally play Trump. Taking a page out of Saturday Night Live‘s Trump playbook, it’d be an unconventional choice, but Bates has the range to pull it off. And it wouldn’t be the first unconventional casting choice on the show: Lady Gaga had a major role in the fifth season, American Horror Story: Hotel.
Haunted White House
What if, when Trump moves into the White House, he discovers it’s haunted by the ghosts of presidents past who try to prevent him from carrying out his agenda? There’s a lot of history within the walls of the 217-year-old mansion—Abraham Lincoln’s ghost, in particular, is said to lurk its halls.
Perhaps president Trump will find out that living in the White House is a lot scarier than he imagined it would be (which is apparently already true, according to some reports).
One logical explanation for Donald Trump’s erratic behavior: He’s possessed by demonic forces. This would be the story of a demon-hunter, Hillary Clinton (probably played by Sarah Paulson), attempting to exorcize the United States of the evil poisoning it from within. She, of course, was ultimately unsuccessful, but then again, horror stories rarely have happy endings.
A semi-satirical exploration of the election’s themes
When Murphy says the upcoming season is “about” the election, it’s probable that he only means it will metaphorically touch on what Americans went through in 2016. Prevalent campaign themes include: deceit, violence, trickery, fear, panic, dread, division, hatred, hostility, and the worst impulses of human nature. It wouldn’t be difficult to extrapolate those themes to the horror TV genre.
It may sound silly for a popular TV show known for ghosts and witches to tackle a topic as serious as a presidential election, but it’ll be just one of many efforts to process what just happened in the US on the screen.
Zero Dark Thirty’s writer and producer are already working on an eight-hour-long TV event series about the election. And plenty of other shows and movies that aren’t explicitly about the election will inevitably be viewed and discussed through a post-election lens.