Ryan Murphy says that a mass shooting scene in Tuesday's episode of American Horror Story: Cult will be edited. Now in its seventh season, FX's popular horror anthology program has never been one to shy away from shockingly violent imagery, and usually seems to wear its TV-MA rating as sort of a badge of honor. However, a shockingly violent event in the real world has caused AHS co-creator Murphy to pull back on the series' normal level of extreme violence, at least during one particular upcoming scene.
In Tuesday's episode of AHS: Cult - entitled "Mid-Western Assassin" - a mass shooting scene occurs. In a case of unfortunate timing, this episode is set to air just over a week after a horrific real-life mass shooting left Las Vegas reeling. One of the deadliest such incidents in U.S. history, the shooting left 59 people dead and hundreds more wounded. While the AHS: Cult scene in question was obviously shot long before the Las Vegas shooting occurred, it's easy to see why airing such a sequence could prove upsetting to some viewers.
With that in mind, Tuesday's episode will be edited to make AHS: Cult's fictional mass shooting less graphic. Murphy first confirmed the change during a New Yorker Fest panel. FX and Murphy have since issued an official statement on the matter, further revealing that the original unedited version of "Mid-Western Assassin" will be made available through select platforms:
"In light of the tragedy last week in Las Vegas, Ryan Murphy and the producers of American Horror Story: Cult have chosen to make substantial edits to the opening scene of tomorrow night’s episode (Tuesday, October 10, 10 PM ET/PT). This opening, which was filmed two months ago and which portrays an occurrence of gun violence that has sadly become all too common in our country, contains a sequence that some viewers might find traumatic. Only the edited version of the episode will air on the FX linear channel, while the unedited version of the episode will be available on the VOD platform of your cable, satellite or telco provider, as well as on the FX Networks non-linear platforms, FXNOW and FX+.”
Longtime fans of American Horror Story will remember that this actually isn't the first time the series will feature a mass shooting as part of its plot. Back in the first season of AHS - dubbed Murder House - a flashback scene revealed that the character of Tate Langdon (Evan Peters) had gone on a shooting spree at his high school, killing 15 fellow students. Tate was later shot and killed by police.
This is far from the first instance of real-life violence leading to a change in TV programming. An April 2013 episode of NBC's Hannibal was pulled from the schedule at the request of creator Bryan Fuller, who worried that the episode's story - involving violence against children - wouldn't go over well following the late 2012 Sandy Hook shooting. Elsewhere, USA delayed the summer 2016 premiere of its drama series Shooter, after a sniper attack in Dallas claimed the lives of five police officers.
American Horror Story: Cult airs Tuesdays at 10pm on FX.