If you gave up on “American Horror Story” after last season’s under-performing “Roanoke,” you may want to check back into this season’s installment, “AHS: Cult.” Last season was the first in the show’s history to be snubbed at the Emmys for acting, but that could change with the stellar work being done this installment. The series seemed to stumble a bit in “Hotel” after the departure of Jessica Lange, who won Emmys for “Murder House” and “Coven,” and was clearly the show’s most valuable player while she was in the cast. But the series seems to have righted itself this year, thanks to these Top 5 reasons:
Topicality — Commenting on last year’s presidential election has become a boom for many TV shows, and “Cult’s” focus on Donald Trump couldn’t make it more topical. Everything from “The View” to “Rachel Maddow” to “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” have seen ratings surges by focusing on the distention caused by the election. “Cult” takes on this topic in perhaps the most creative way on television right now by exploring the fear people have over the state of the world and focusing on the anxieties of its characters.
Sarah Paulson — Paulson has long been one of TV’s favorite actresses of the decade and in “Cult” she has been doing excellent work as Ally Mayfair-Richards, a neurotic and fearful woman coming close to being pushed over the edge. Her complex set of fears and anxieties seemed to have been carefully researched by the show’s writers and together Paulson and company are giving great insight into what can happen to the mind when fear pushes it to its limits.
Evan Peters — Peters has long been the unsung hero of the “American Horror Story” series. The actor has excelled in a range of characters from the demented purgatory-bound killer in “Murder House” to the sensitive, physically deformed lobster boy of “Freak Show.” Even in his brief appearance in “Hotel” the actor managed to transform himself into an old style Hollywood fast-talking style persona that seemed to have stepped right out of a Bette Davis melodrama. This season, the actor is front and center as Kai Anderson, the messianic potential “Cult” leader who preys upon the angry and encourages them to use their rage for evil purposes. Peters has been nothing short of remarkable so far this season. His tightly wrapped, fiercely concentrated performance has been simply riveting.
Continuation of a Hollywood dynasty — Billie Lourd, the daughter of Carrie Fisher and granddaughter of Debbie Reynolds, has bounced back after the tragic family deaths she suffered last year. As Winter Anderson, Lourd has been giving an intense and eerie performance as a manipulative cohort to Evan Peters’ character. While her full identity has yet to be revealed, she is so far quietly causing havoc in the lives of a lesbian couple and their small child.
Clowns — Fear of clowns is actually a common phobia and much like Stephen King’s “It” this season plays on a recent spree of real life clown “attacks” to use this fear in remarkable storytelling. And make sure not to fast-forward through too many commercials because Louie Anderson’s mock public service announcements in which his “Baskets” character (who’s the mother of a clown) speaks out in support of the clown community are quite witty.