(Note: This post contains some light spoilers for the first episode of “American Horror Story: Cult.”)
Although it’s not strictly about the U.S. presidential election, “American Horror Story: Cult” opens on Nov. 8, 2016. It uses the events of the election to set up a lot of the conflicts between its characters, with the resentment between supporters of Donald Trump and those of Hillary Clinton serving as a jumping off point for murderous clowns and deteriorating mental states.
The first episode of “American Horror Story: Cult” features a bunch of references to real-life events that took place in the election. Here’s a quick refresher on what everyone’s talking about and why they’re important, in case everything that’s happened since November is making your memory a bit hazy.
It’s set in Michigan
Though Michigan has gone to the Democratic presidential candidate in every election since 1992, in 2016, the state turned red. At the time, Michigan was considered a battleground state, and Trump won it by a razor-thin margin — just over 10,000 votes. For the characters in the show’s fictional small town in the Southeast Michigan suburbs, this means that every vote really did count. Who voted for whom in the election creates some serious tension in its aftermath.
Voting for Jill Stein might have caused Hillary Clinton to lose
Green Party candidate Jill Stein also gets a few mentions in the first episode of “American Horror Story: Cult.” Although she was nowhere near winning, coming in at less than 1.5 million votes nationally, she did manage to pull about 51,000 votes in the state of Michigan, far more than the margin of Trump’s victory.
The Green Party has been blamed before for causing losses for Democratic candidates. The argument is that people who otherwise would have voted for a Democrat vote for the Green Party, which can give a Republican the edge they need to win. In Michigan in 2016, that is arguably the case — if just 10,000 Stein voters instead went to Clinton, she would have won the state.
In “American Horror Story,” this is a particular point of contention because one of those Stein voters is Ally Mayfair-Richards (Sarah Paulson). She histrionically despairs at Trump’s victory in the opening portion of the episode, only for it to be revealed later that she voted for Stein. Her partner, Ivy (Alison Pill), obviously harbors some resentment for Ally’s “protest vote.”
“F–k you, Huffington Post! F–k you, Nate Silver!”
In the moments after Clinton concedes the election to Trump, Ally screams her anger at the Huffington Post and statistician Nate Silver. Her animosity is a reference to pollsters who projected Clinton as the clear winner of the election during the run-up to Nov. 8. Silver’s website, FiveThirtyEight, projected Clinton’s chances of winning the election at over 71 percent. The Huffington Post put Clinton’s chances at 98 percent.
The potential end of Ally and Ivy’s marriage
In the throes of election night drama, Ally and Ivy worry that their marriage might not be recognized under the new Trump administration. While Trump has said that same-sex marriage is “settled” thanks to a Supreme Court ruling, his running mate, now-Vice President Mike Pence, has a history of anti-LGBT policies and positions. Throughout the election, Pence was also dogged by accusations that he supported “conversion therapy,” a process that attempts to change a person’s sexual orientation to straight.