For it’s seventh installment, Ryan Murphy’s “American Horror Story” traded in supernatural elements for more grounded storylines that tapped into the audience’s real-life fears.
To do so, the FX horror-anthology used the divisive 2016 presidential election as a jumping-off point, a decision that had some skeptics rolling their eyes. After all, the season premiered less than a year after the events it depicted, events that were already being rehashed in politics and media on a daily basis.
Leslie Grossman, who joined “AHS” this season as Meadow Wilton, admits that people were “concerned” when Murphy first announced his intentions to tackle the election directly. But in an interview with TheWrap’s Stuart Brazell, the actress said that to focus on that element of the season misses the point.
“If you’ve watched it, you’ll see that obviously [politics and the election is] a thread throughout,” she said. “But I think the real overarching theme is fear, and how fear can be used to manipulate and control people, and how you can let fear change who you are if you give into it.”
And that’s not the only time “Cult” found itself depicting a real-life event. However, the second time wasn’t intentional.
Grossman’s character was at the center of a public shooting in an episode that aired just a few days after the shooting in Las Vegas left 58 people (plus the shooter) dead and more than 500 injured. The episode was re-cut for air, though the original versions are still available for viewing online.
“I got the script [for the episode] the day that there was a shooting of the Republican baseball team,” Grossman said. “I got the script that day and read it. And I was like, ‘Well, this feels horrifyingly ironic.’ I just remember thinking to myself, ‘There’s going to be another one. Is it going to be right before or right after this airs?'”
“It was very hard for me to shoot that scene … I think it was the absolutely right thing to do out of respect for the families,” she continued. “I was nervous about it. I wondered if they were going to pull the episode altogether, but I think they did the right thing airing it.”
“American Horror Story: Cult” finale airs Tuesday, Nov. 14 at 10/9c on FX.