Home Columns OPINION: This week’s American Horror Story is racially insensitive

OPINION: This week’s American Horror Story is racially insensitive

6 min read

American Horror Story columnist Kayla Wood explores what made “Neighbors from Hell” such a problematic episode in her eyes.  

Murder, protests and suspicion permeated this week’s episode of American Horror Story: Cult, “Neighbors from Hell,” and the suspenseful ending leaves the audience wondering who the aforementioned neighbors even are.

Are they the Wiltons, who just moved into a house where a murder-suicide recently occurred, and have accused Ally (Sarah Paulson) of racism and murder? Or are they the Mayfair-Richards, who accused the Wiltons of giving their son a guinea pig, only to kill it right in front of his eyes? And who punched Harrison (Billy Eichner) and threatened to kill the Wiltons?

The primary conflict between these two households arose after Ally accidentally shot and killed Pedro, a worker from her and Ivy’s (Allison Pill) restaurant who was coming to bring her some supplies during a power outage.

A police officer comes to the house the next morning and tells Ally and Ivy that the law was not broken because it was self-defense. Ally felt threatened; thus, she legally was allowed to protect herself and her home.

Protests quickly followed the murder, and soon there were hundreds of people gathered around Ally and Ivy’s restaurant with signs calling Ally a murderer and racist. The news reporter, played by Adina Porter, said that the protestors likened Ally to a “lesbian George Zimmerman.”

At this point, the Wiltons, who were originally kind and welcoming, albeit a little odd, turned against Ally, calling her a racist and murderer and telling her to get out of their neighborhood.

It’s interesting that Brad Falchuk and Ryan Murphy chose this narrative because it forces the audience to sympathize with the one who pulled the trigger rather than the one who received the bullet. Falchuk and Murphy have been angling toward a more liberal audience thus far in the season. But this episode forced us to look at the other side of stories like those of Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, Philando Castile and countless other people of color who were mercilessly murdered by people with privilege.

Falchuk and Murphy are wading into dangerous waters with this, though, because they come close to satirizing the liberal protestors who come out in droves any time an injustice like this occurs.

Specifically, with the way they portray the Wiltons as absurd alt-left radicals who come to Ally’s home with sombreros and yell about how Taco Bell is a symbol of white erasure of Hispanic and Latino culture, Falchuk and Murphy run the risk of belittling those who are actually deeply affected and connected to the senseless murders of people of color.

This is not how protestors act in reality. I see what the writers are trying to do by putting us in the accused’s shoes, but at the end of the day, a man of color is dead, and a white woman who is responsible is only facing harassment by her neighbors, who she then threatens to murder. So again, I ask, who are the real neighbors from hell?

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