Two American Horror Stories

Finally watched the finale of American Horror Story, Season 6: My Roanoke Nightmare. Wow, what a crazy ride. I wasn’t as ‘into’ this season at first, but I still wound up marveling more and more at the creativity Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk put into this one — the almost meta play on reality TV shows, crime reenactment dramas, YouTube, and ghost chasers. (Plenty of plot twists, as always, but what, no musical numbers this time?) And — spoiler alert! — they even brought back Lana Winters from my favorite season, American Horror Story: Asylum, to interview surviving cast member, Lee. My favorite seasons are still Murder House and Asylum. Then a bit of a gap, followed by Freak Show, Roanoke, Coven, and Hotel.

Speaking of horror stories and reality TV, an upcoming episode of American Horror Story, The Real Season 6: My Election Nightmare has the Electoral College meeting one month from today, either to award their votes as projected in the infamous Election Night episode or — plot twist! — to invoke Essay No. 68 of the Federalist Papers. To “go rogue” in the biggest sense as “faithless electors” and switch enough votes to prevent Trump from taking office. It Can Happen Here. I know, I know, it’s highly unlikely. It does sound like a deliciously demented shocker straight from the pens of Murphy and Falchuk & company. But as we’ve seen already, nothing is too crazy to happen on TV. There is a small chance it could, along with a great number of online articles and petitions for the showrunners to make it so.

It has never happened in the history of our nation (and, again, quite possibly won’t happen), but then again, so much of this election season has already been so historic and unbelievable and terrifying, the ending might as well be, too. There’s certainly a compelling case for the electors to act “faithless” this time. Trump is every bit the demagogue the Electoral College was designed to prevent. Every day we see more evidence of Russia’s diabolical hand behind the scenes. Voter turnout was affected by the gutting of the Voting Rights Act and outright intimidation and suppression still being uncovered in key states. The appointees and policies being proposed are unconstitutional and brazen, even by GOP standards: a Muslim registry, restricting the freedom of the press to criticize the administration, forcing the military to commit illegal torture, and the assuredly lethal repeals of the Affordable Care Act, Medicare, Medicaid, and even Social Security. An epic horror show, indeed. Not to mention that some of the most corrupt, demonic creatures of the swamp we were promised would be drained are instead being dumped straight into the seat of power, along with unsavory dealings with China and the eerily ever-present Russia. And one reason for those unholy international deals is that reportedly U.S. banks will not loan Trump any more money after his long string of bankruptcies and unkept agreements. We now have a leader whose credit is worse than mine and most of his constituents. And in this latest episode, he hurriedly settled the Trump University fraud lawsuit for $25 million to keep it from going to court. And let his daughter and son-in-law sit in on an important meeting with the leader of Japan.
 
And speaking of his daughter, he’s also setting up his kids to run his billion-dollar empire as a “blind trust” supposedly so he cannot profit from his reign — yet now is asking for all of his kids to be given top secret national security clearances. WTAF?! That’s such a clear conflict of interest, at this point the only “blind trust” is in the vengeful, gullible minds of those who voted for him. Well, maybe not all of his kids will get clearances, just the three golden ones. Barron is probably still too young, but as for Tiffany, well...could it be any clearer, even to someone as far away as I am, how conspicuously excluded she is from that dynasty-in-the-making? For whatever reason, right or wrong, he’s visibly not as invested in her as in his other three anointed heirs. Bless her heart, she’s not as pretty or as accomplished as Ivanka, the most golden of these golden children, the true star of the show, the Marcia to her Jan, the one so gorgeous her own father has publicly uttered squicky longings for her, and whose beauty and brilliance, if this indeed becomes an American horror story — and/or a Greek tragedy — could wind up calling down the very jealous wrath of the worst of the gods and maybe the demons, too. Daedalus and Icarus, with an extra son and a daughter this time. Or Eurydice with wings. Great fake wings of waxed feathers and gilded hubris, tragically urged closer and closer to the sun by the very father/would-be-lover who crafted those wings and placed them on her shoulders, only to helplessly witness a horrific crash straight down into hell. Or perhaps, while we’re rummaging around in tragic Greek symbolism, she could even be a modern-day Helen. Doesn’t he realize the exquisite bait he is dangling in front of evil, powerful men who’d love nothing better than to goad him into World War III or at least hit him with the one thing all his money could never fix? All they’d have to do to break him is get to her. It’s the oldest dirty trick in the book. And you know that somewhere, at least in private, Tiffany would be bitterly laughing.

Well, it’s fun to muse over all these potential plot twists of this craziest of reality shows, even though they are mostly outlandish. I do worry, as the potentially “faithless” electors have no doubt already considered, that such a seismic shift of votes could set off unprecedented (unPresidented?) riots. We’ve all mostly agreed that the protests we’re seeing right now are laughably mild compared to what the other side promised to unleash if they had lost. It could even touch off a second Civil War. You know the electors are mulling all this over. What an astonishing weapon they hold right now, at such an unanticipated, extraordinary moment. Cut one way, and a fascist is loosed upon the (no longer as) free world, and untold numbers of people die — some from his inevitable wars, some from his dastardly policies, some for daring to speak truth to power, and some even just for the unpardonable sin of being different. Cut the other way, and America is thrown deeper into a bloody internal war with itself, even as it is saved from the worst of itself, and sure to also rack up senseless casualties all around.

Well, however they decide to wield that weapon (or edit that script), there’s certainly never been a candidate so fitting the nightmare demagogue scenario the Electoral College was designed to circumvent. With the possible exception of George W. Bush, all the other men who ever ascended to the U.S. presidency were clearly qualified, even if multitudes opposed their policies and history wound up side-eyeing some of their decisions. At least even W had been been a governor. But Trump’s the only president(-elect) to have never held a single public office or served in active military.

Even people sympathetic to him say it doesn’t look like he actually expected to win — this was all just an elaborate plan to birth Trump TV and/or rake in some cash. Even he seemed shocked at the ending of Election Night. And, as Dave Chappelle so perfectly put it, after that meeting with Obama, “he looked shook.” He certainly hasn’t been as triumphant as expected or as the worst of his supporters, who now see his (possibly short-lived) victory as a gaudy gold-plated license to go after everyone not like them.

Yes, it will be terrible to watch what happens to them (and from them) if or when the “faithless” electors turn faithful, at least faithful to the utmost standards of democracy and to their highest yet most deeply solemn duty (and to the rules of riveting TV!). And if that plot twist does somehow crazily come to pass, the villains will have richly (so to speak) deserved to crash again from so brazenly flying in the faces of the gods and tempting the demons. And somewhere, watching this latest horror story/reality show unfold, worlds apart in so many ways, and at least in private, Tiffany and I would be bitterly laughing.

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