American Horror Story: NYC is taking viewers to the 1980s to follow a series of murders in the LGBTQ+ community and the struggles of this community to be heard and seen, and so far, it has some big similarities with an Al Pacino movie from the 1980s. American Horror Story continues to explore different fears, settings, and social issues each season, and after the mixed reception of its previous season, Double Feature (which was divided into two parts), it’s back with a new season titled NYC.
Set in 1981, American Horror Story: NYC is more rooted in real-life issues and conspiracies as it takes a look into the lifestyle and struggles of the LGBTQ+ community throughout the 1980s in the title city. This season’s horror comes from a series of murders targeting the gay community, along with a mysterious virus quickly spreading across the city, especially in the gay community. American Horror Story is no stranger to taking real-life issues, events, and characters to build new stories, but so far, AHS: NYC has some interesting similarities to an Al Pacino movie from 1980: Cruising.
Directed by Willaim Friedkin, Cruising is a crime thriller loosely based on the novel of the same name by reporter Gerald Walker. Set in 1970s New York, Cruising follows detective Steve Burns (Al Pacino) as he infiltrates the urban world of gay S&M and leather bars in order to track down a serial killer, as body parts of men had been showing up in the Hudson River. Cruising was not well received by critics and viewers upon its release and was heavily criticized for stigmatizing the gay community, and it’s notable for its open-ended finale. Now, while AHS: NYC isn’t exactly a remake of Cruising, it does have some interesting similarities with it, and even one scene in episode 2 is a direct reference to one of the movie’s most memorable ones.
Like Cruising, AHS: NYC’s main focus is the murders within the gay community, though in the series’ case, these are a concern among those in the LGBTQ+ community rather than the police, with Gino (Joe Mantello) and Adam (Charlie Carver) doing what the police refuse to. Just like in Cruising, AHS: NYC has a cop, Patrick (Russell Tovey), going undercover to the city’s leather bars, and the serial killer in both not only kills gay men but also leaves body parts in different parts of the city. AHS: NYC even made a direct reference to Cruising in the scene where the police are interrogating Adam after deriding the police’s work. In it, one of Patrick’s colleagues opens the door and a black man wearing only a cowboy hat and a jockstrap comes in, slaps Adam, and leaves, which is the exact same that happens in Cruising while Burns’ colleagues interrogate a waiter named Skip Lee.
Although Pacino’s character in Cruising eventually finds the man responsible for all the murders, there are more tragedies along the way, including one that involved his new friend, Ted Bailey. Burns discovers that the killer is Stuart Richards, a music graduate student with schizophrenic disorder. Burns cruises him and as Richards tries to stab him, Burns stabs him in the side. Not long after, Ted’s mutilated body is found, and his boyfriend is the prime suspect. If American Horror Story: NYC continues to take more elements from Cruising, this season could see a major plot twist in the identity of one of its killers (as so far there are two: the man in leather and Mr. Whitley), revealing that one of the main characters (most likely Patrick) has been directly involved in the murders, just like Cruising left open the possibility of Pacino’s character being one of the killers, specifically the one who killed Ted.