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Ryan Murphy Explains That Cheetos Scene in American Horror Story: Cult

There's a deeper meaning to it

Keisha Hatchett

Tuesday's American Horror Story: Cult premiere had its fair share of bizarre scenes -- like when the gang of clowns terrorized Ally (Sarah Paulson) in the grocery store -- but one of the most memorable moments also happens to be the most amusing: that Cheetos scene.

Just after it's announced that Trump is the president-elect, the show's cult leader-in-training Kai (Evan Peters) puts a bag of the tasty, orange-colored treats in a blender and then smears them all over his face. On the surface, the scene looks like a nod to the jokes about Trump's deeply tanned skin and shows Kai taking ownership of these jabs by creating a literal Cheetos mask. However, there's far more to it than that.

"Evan really put real Cheetos on his face, but it was also meant to be a little bit deeper," creator Ryan Murphy explained to The Hollywood Reporter. "The idea that you can make fun of Trump all that you want to, and you can claim that he's absolutely a ridiculous figure, which many people do, but there is some anger in the country and passion in the country that he has tapped into that elevates him from a cartoon figure to someone to be taken seriously, in my book."

So while the image of Evan Peters walking around with his face covered in Cheetos dust might be funny, it's actually about what happens when you underestimate and ridicule people without understanding what fuels them -- the results of which are no joke.

"Evan's character was making that statement and rubbing it into Billie Lourd's face, that she really was looking in the wrong direction," he added. "You felt it leading up to the election with all the liberal news. The laughter and cackling that all of the liberal news shows would have about that group of people in our culture, making fun of them, talking about then in a negative way, which led to the shock of, 'Oh, they haven't been taking these people seriously. They're not jokes. There's something going on there.' That's what that scene is about."

American Horror Story: Cult: Are the Clowns Real?

American Horror Story: Cult airs Tuesdays at 10/9c on FX.