It brings to mind another real-world and on-air event that loosely inspired a piece of art. In 1974, journalist Christine Chubbuck shot herself to death during a live television broadcast. The infamous event was the subject of two 2016 movies: the feature film Christine and the documentary Kate Plays Christine. But Chubbuck’s suicide was also the alleged inspiration for 1976’s Network, written by Paddy Chayefsky and directed by Sidney Lumet. Network won Oscars for several of its actors and for its screenplay; it's also, like American Horror Story, a sharp satire, laying into the nature of the bloodthirsty news business -- in it, a newscaster vows to commit suicide on air to increase ratings.
On AHS: Cult, Serina Belinda’s murder helps woo the vulnerable Beverly Hope to the clown cult and revitalizes her career in the process; with Serena out of the way, she’s able to stake a claim in the more hard-pressing stories she craved. The segment doesn’t make it to air, and is thus only tangentially related to Parker and Ward’s deaths. But it does share a certain DNA when it comes to motivation. Flanagan’s quest for visibility and revenge isn’t all that different from Beverly Hope’s. Both showcase the brutal nature of nabbing a story -- be in brutal on-air fashion for notoriety, or for one’s own career aspirations. American Horror Story may toe the line of good taste, but when reality is so cruelly shameless, can you blame it?