This coming Tuesday’s episode of American Horror Story: Cult was set to feature a scene in which a mass shooting occurs, but has it has now been edited to be less graphic following the deadly Las Vegas shooting.
Ryan Murphy made the comments at a New Yorker Festival discussion with the magazine’s TV critic Emily Nussbaum on Saturday.
The scene in question was filmed before the shooting in Vegas occurred, with Murphy explaining that they shot the scene in September even though they’re still filming this season.
“I just made the decision that I’m going to have all of that violence be shown for the most part off camera,” Murphy said of editing the episode that was in the can and locked before the tragedy in Las Vegas.
Furthermore, he said he felt a “responsiblity” to victims of gun violence.
“Nobody ever talks about victims’ rights. That’s sort of a weird emotional discussion that’s never bridged,” he added. “But I felt great sympathy for people who were affected, certainly, and family members and loved ones and people who are upset about the way the world is.”
Murphy explained that there was a conversation about what to do with the episode in the wake of the shooting: “Should you air it? Should you not air it? How do you be sensitive?”
“My point of view was I believe I have the right to air it, but I also believe in victims’ rights, and I believe that now is probably not the week to have something explosive or incendiary in the culture because someone who was affected might watch that and it could trigger something or make them feel upset. So our decision was to re-edit it and I felt that that was the right move,” Murphy said.
The scene was graphic, Murphy said, in order to make “an obvious anti-gun warning about society.”
The horror anthology show, which stars Sarah Paulson and Evan Peters, follows the rise of a cult led by Peters’ character, Kai.
This is not the first time a show has had to change a scene or delay the viewing of an episode in response to real-world events. USA’s Mr. Robot delayed its season one finale, which featured a character killing themselves on television, similar to the events of the Virginia TV shooting in which a reporter was killed on-air.
Similarly, USA delayed the premiere of its Ryan Phillippe-starrer Shooter in the wake of a deadly Black Lives Matter protest in Dallas where a sniper attack by a disgraced military vet killed five police officers.
Murphy’s comments were part of a wide-ranging discussion of his career and many TV series, past, present and future. He revealed the fate of the Cult episode as part of a response to a question from Nussbaum about people being offended by things in his shows and what offends him.
Do you think Ryan made the right call?