The Donald Trump References In 'AHS: Cult' Prove The Fear That He Inspires Is Here To Stay
The election of Donald Trump instilled real fear into the hearts of many immigrants, members of the LGBTQ community, minorities, women, and others, but the 2016 presidential election being the jumping off point for Season 7 of American Horror Story still seemed like an odd choice. After all, Ryan Murphy's anthology series is known for serial killers, the dead never dying, and paranormal beings like witches and vampires — not controversial celebrities-turned-presidents. But Murphy is using not only the fear that occurred after Trump became president, but also the fear that helped him become elected in the first place, as the overarching theme for his seventh edition of the franchise and because of that, Trump references in American Horror Story: Cult abound.
Although Trump won't be making any cameos in AHS, he is featured in the series through actual news footage, as is his 2016 presidential election opponent Hillary Clinton. Cult starts with footage from their campaigns, which leads to election night coverage that Sarah Paulson's Ally and Evan Peters' Kai watch separately and with vastly different reactions when Trump is announced as the winner. Trump and Clinton also get some screen time in the opening credits, thanks to people putting on masks of their faces.
But just as election night meant that the U.S. was going to have four years of President Trump, the Trump references don't end there on Cult. And though the coverage is not all good, America's narcissistic president might delight in knowing that he's a major talking point of Murphy's American Horror Story in the premiere episode, "Election Night," and beyond.
Kai speaks at a local city council meeting in the first episode about how humans love fear above all else and that they have built fear up "brick by brick" to make it "as tall as the Trump Tower."
Trump Addresses Congress
When Ally goes to the grocery store, it's allegedly empty because people are at home watching the president's speech. The speech being referenced is Trump's address to a joint session of Congress on Feb. 28, 2017. Underneath the dialogue, you can hear Trump saying:
"But then the quiet voices became a loud chorus as thousands of citizens now spoke out together, from cities small and large, all across our country. Finally, the chorus became an earthquake, and the people turned out by the tens of millions, and they were all united by one very simple, but crucial demand: that America must put its own citizens first. Because only then can we truly make America great again."
Make America Great Again Hat
Speaking of making America great again, Chaz Bono's character Gary Longstreet, who is the grocery store cashier, dons his Make America Great Again hat. Unsurprisingly, Bono, who is transgender, is not a Trump supporter in real life.
Like most people, Ally can't help herself from looking at Trump's Twitter feed, even after her therapist tells her to avoid social media. She says to her phone screen, "Stop tweeting," while reading the above tweet about the London terrorist attack that occurred near the Houses of Parliament in March 2017.
Trump's Comments About Mexican Immigrants
When Kai announces that he'll be running for city council after he was beaten up by Mexican migrant workers (an attack he provoked), he says, "When President Trump called them 'criminals and rapists,' he was viciously attacked by the PC police." Kai is referencing Trump's infamous and insulting comments about Mexican immigrants from his campaign kickoff speech. "When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best. They're not sending you. They're not sending you," Trump said. "They're sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people."
Emma Roberts appears in just one episode, "11/9," as ambitious reporter Serena Belinda. She says, "Well, aren't you a nasty woman?" to fellow news anchor Beverly Hope, who she is set on crushing. Trump called Clinton "such a nasty woman" during the third and final presidential debate, but it became a term that Clinton supporters used proudly.
The Ousting Of Chris Christie
Meadow is watching the news after Harrison comes home from meeting Kai at the gym and the stories are about New Jersey Governor Chris Christie falling out of a favor with Trump. The news is reporting on Trump replacing Christie with Vice President-Elect Mike Pence as the head of his transition team just a couple days after he won the presidency. Meadow also references Trump's son-in-law trying to oust the "fat guy from Jersey" as "some kind of revenge for his dad." There is a popular narrative in the media that Ivanka Trump's husband Jared Kushner holds a grudge against Christie, who prosecuted his father for illegal campaign contributions, tax evasion, and witness tampering.
His Surprising Win
Ally attempts to justify her eventual vote for Jill Stein by saying to Ivy, "I swear to you, if I thought Trump had a chance in hell of winning, I wouldn't even consider it. He's a reality TV star for God's sake, honey. It's never gonna happen." Kai also mentions that the 2016 election proves anything is possible, which just serves as a brutal reminder that many sources predicted that Clinton would win the election.
Trump's Tax Returns
A Clinton supporter at a rally toward the end of "11/9" yells about Trump's tax returns to a Trump supporter. Before and after he won, Trump's tax returns were a major topic of discussion since he claimed he could not release them because he was being audited. As Politico reported, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said on C-SPAN that it didn't matter to the IRS if people released their returns while they were being audited.
"Grab Them By The P*ssy"
Another one of Trump's misogynistic comments was referenced a number of times during episode, "11/9" — his "grab them by the p*ssy" remark. In Oct. 2016, The Washington Times acquired and released the 2005 recording of Trump telling Billy Bush that when approaching beautiful women he will just "grab them by the p*ssy." Winter and her friends chant, "This p*ssy grabs back!" in the line to vote, Beverly is driven to physical violence when people keep saying, "Grab her right in the p*ssy" while she's reporting on camera, and Gary sexually assaults Ivy by physically acting on Trump's words — leading to violent consequences for him.
When Dermot Mulroney's news anchor Bob Thompson tells Beverly Hope to "Stop reporting fake news!" during the episode "Holes," he's actually using the term correctly. Fabricated news stories circulating on Facebook has been cited as something that may have helped Trump win the election. But then Trump took the term for himself during his first press conference after being elected when he said, "You are fake news," to CNN's Jim Acosta. And, as The Telegraph has documented, he has since continued to use the phrase incorrectly against the mainstream media.
"Knitting A Pink Pussy Hat"
"Holes" proves that Ivy is absolutely a part of Kai's cult and when it seems like she's losing her nerve, Winter says to her, "This isn't knitting a pink pussy hat and marching with a clever sign." Kai's sister is referring to the Pussyhat Project, which formed to knit pink pussyhats before the Women's March. If you somehow forgot, the Women's March was a peaceful protest against Trump's inauguration and promoted a multitude of issues affecting women — and yes, it was full of clever signs and pink hats.
"Candidacy Of Fear"
Mare Winningham came back to AHS for "Mid-Western Assassin" and her character Sally draws comparisons between Kai and Trump. Along with saying that Kai is not a real conservative (which is a criticism that Trump has faced with outlets like CNN looking into how the Republican's politics would be categorized), she also accuses both Kai and Trump of being reactionaries and running candidacies of fear. In July 2016, The New York Times published an article called "Donald Trump's Campaign of Fear."
"Not My President"
The day after the election, Kai is watching people on TV protesting in the streets chanting, "Not my president." This is actual footage of the anti-Trump protests that occurred throughout the country, including places like Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago and Trump Tower in New York, after he was elected. Although Ivy isn't out there protesting, she tells Kai that "our new president" fills her heart with dread.
"Payback Against Trump Supporters"
After the shooting in the previous episode, Harrison gives a fake reason to the press for why his wife Meadow perpetrated the crime in "Valerie Solanas Died for Your Sins: Scumbag." He says she was upset about Clinton losing and that she vowed "payback against Trump supporters" in her diary.
A Retweet From Eric Trump
Kai celebrates while he is recovering from the "assassination attempt" on his life because Trump's second son Eric has retweeted him. Considering that Eric has only tweeted approximately 5,000 times as compared to his father, who has tweeted more than 36,000 times, it's no wonder Kai is excited to get recognition from the less-active Trump on Twitter.
Defund Planned Parenthood
Winter says in the seventh episode that men "con women into electing them and then they defund planned parenthood and force us to get transvaginal ultrasounds before we can get an abortion." Trump has not made legislation about transvaginal ultrasounds like Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, but Trump has promised to defund Planned Parenthood. He gave a statement to The New York Times about his proposal and removed a protection of Planned Parenthood put into place by President Barack Obama when he signed a bill changing how states can allocate Title X funding. But considering that defunding Planned Parenthood was one of his campaign promises, no woman can say that she was conned by the current president's intentions.
This list will be updated as the season continues.