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New American Horror Story: Cult trailer shows Lena Dunham as Valerie Solanas

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Mar 26, 2021, 6:00 AM EDT (Updated)

It has been widely reported that Lena Dunham will appear in an upcoming episode of American Horror Story: Cult as Valerie Solanas, a radical feminist who tried to assassinate Andy Warhol in 1968. But we now have our first peek at Dunham, who will appear in next week's episode, "Valerie Solanas Died for Your Sins: Scumbag."


Last week, we got our first glimpse of Evan Peters as Andy Warhol in next week's episode. Peters will also be playing infamous cult leaders this season, including Charles Manson, Jim Jones, and David Koresh. It has been assumed that Warhol will be portrayed as a cult leader, but after seeing this trailer, that could be a bit of a fakeout.

AHS stalwart Frances Conroy returns to the series in an unnamed role. Best guess is that she's playing a modern-day Solanas (the real Solanas died of pneumonia in 1988) who is being recruited by Kai's cult. Solanas would qualify as a cult leader far more than Andy Warhol.

In real life, Valerie Solanas was, well, legitimately insane. After she attempted to murder Warhol (she only injured him), Solanas was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic and spent time in a mental hospital. As a child, she faced abuse at the hands of her father and grandfather and had at least one illegitimate child while still a teenager. She attended college in Maryland, where she earned a degree in psychology and was an open lesbian.

In the 1960s she went to New York in an attempt to be a writer. Her only real published work is SCUM Manifesto, a scathing, far-right feminist proclamation in which Solanas advocated removing all men from the face of the Earth. It is often believed that SCUM stood for "Society for Cutting Up Men," though this has never been verified. Only a few of the most radical feminists took Solanas' work to heart; others, like Betty Friedan, dismissed it. In 1967, Solanas advertised for "a public forum on SCUM," but there is no evidence to suggest anyone other than her was involved in her SCUM organization. So in other words, she was a failed cult leader. 

What do you think? Who do you think is more of a cult leader: Andy Warhol or Valerie Solanas?