Monday, October 2, 2023

Review: ‘American Horror Story’ becomes boys’ club


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“American Horror Story” often will present their show on multiple timelines. For some viewers, it’s frustrating to follow so many different stories, but for me, I love watching a storyline unfold on different timelines.

After fearing that “AHS” had abandoned the trend of different storylines, they brought it back in the latest episode of “Cult.”

Opening up with a scene from 1968 featuring Andy Warhol (Evan Peters), viewers meet Valerie Solanas, played by Lena Dunham. (Really, Ryan Murphy? Lena Dunham?)

Valerie is a radical feminist, and that’s putting it lightly. Both on screen and in real life, she authored the “SCUM Manifesto,” which advocated for the extermination of men. Valerie has an insatiable craving to be as well-known as Andy, but he puts her down, saying that women weren’t cut out for the creative field.

While every woman knows what it feels like to be blown off by men, Valerie took her anger to an unimaginable level; she showed up to Andy’s office again, yelled “down with the patriarchy” and shot Andy straight in the stomach.

Nothing else is seen of Andy after this, but in real life, he survived the attack, although it left him with permanent physical defects.

While behind bars, Valerie continued to orchestrate her plan of eliminating men. Her cult group of followers, all of whom were misfits seeking acceptance by someone — anyone, performed a series of murders targeting couples. Valerie’s hatred for men spread from the male species to include women who “spread their legs for them.”

Their savage murders puzzled cops and earned them a highly recognizable nickname: Zodiac Killer. Not possibly believing the murders to be committed by women or by a cult, police assumed it was a lone male operating solo as a serial killer.

After getting out of the institution, Valerie — as crazed as ever — reunites with her girlfriend Bebe (Frances Conroy) and continues her plan of world takeover. She becomes more delusional than ever, though, a side-effect of her schizophrenia, causing her followers and Bebe to abandon her.

In present day, Meadow’s (Leslie Grossman) planned attack on Kai (Evan Peters) has gained him the media attention he was seeking. His fifteen minutes of fame also earned him some new devotees, all of whom are men. The newbies seem to operate as the “muscle” Kai needed to give his cult some legitimate street cred. When Beverly (Adina Porter) shows up to see Kai, she’s blocked by one of the newcomers.

Kai wants to ride the wave that his overnight fame has created for him, but Beverly is ready to catch the next one, actively seeking “fresh blood” like a starving, toothy shark. Kai dismisses this idea and has her removed by one of his body guards.

Enraged by Kai’s thick-headedness, Beverly calls a meeting for the women of the cult. Secretly, Beverly, Ivy (Alison Pill) and Winter (Billie Lourd) meet to discuss their roles in the cult going forward. Beverly shows up, sporting a stranger in tow.

The unknown woman accompanying Beverly is no other than Bebe, the late Valerie’s former lover. Bebe is older and wise now, saying, “History may change but herstory stays the same.”

Together with Bebe, the women draft a plan to gain legitimacy in their organization and to respond in the only language men understand, according to the “SCUM Manifesto”: death.

Harrison (Billy Eichner) falls the unlucky victim, being chopped up with a chainsaw by Ivy. (It’s like the creators are having a contest to see who can come up with the most grotesque death this season).

Ever the crafty leader, Kai is one step ahead of his followers. When chatting with Winter, he pulls out the “Manifesto” she had hiding in her room. She lays claim to it, saying she made it up while in college. Kai doesn’t buy it, though.

Although this episode was highly exaggerated, it hit home in some regards, specifically the frequency in which women in positions of power are pushed out of their positions, just as viewers watched Kai do to Beverly. Although she was sworn equal power, it’s becoming obvious that Kai has no plans to keep his word.

Right now, it’s setting up to operate like a boys’ club, leaving women on the outside and placing their value directly under that of men’s. Before his death, Harrison suggested calling the cult Men Lead, Women Bleed.

With a newly found wave of feminism among the women, it’s likely we’ll see a sex war in forthcoming episodes.

Follow Brinley Hineman on Twitter at @_briiindle. 

To contact Lifestyles Editor Tayhlor Stephenson, email

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