The show “American Horror Stories” grips and terrifies viewers every Thursday with a different harrowing and pulse-pounding tale.

The writers have generally shown exceptional creativity in putting the stories for each episode together, but the most recent installment, called “The Naughty List,” might just be a case of art imitating life.

A Real-Life Horror Story?

In “The Naughty List,” Danny Trejo is a serial killer Santa who terrorizes the protagonists on the pretext of getting revenge for a prank that went too far. The pranksters who are being terrorized live together in a place called the Bro House.

As interesting as all of this is, it does sound a little out there. This is a true-to-life story? A serial killer Santa?


But indeed, the idea for the episode may be based on something that really happened. Every one of the pranksters living in the Bro House appears to be based on real-life social media influencers.

Zinn, for example, the ringleader of the group, displayed behavior during the episode that brought to mind David Dobrik, a massive influencer who leads a group called the Vlog Squad and is headquartered in a mansion. Dobrik comes up with all kinds of horrible and often humiliating ideas and makes those in his group do them for social media clout. Some have even accused Dobrik of running a cult.

Wyatt, another character in “The Naughty List,” loosely resembles Durte Dom, one of David Dobrik’s best friends and once a major part of the Vlog Squad. When Dom was accused of sexual assault, though, he vanished from the group.


James is another character that bears a striking resemblance to a Vlog Squad member, in this case to Seth Francois. Like the character James, Francois is a black man. Francois eventually left the Vlog Squad after being subjected to racist remarks and being pranked in a way that amounted to sexual assault.

Lastly, there’s Barry, the tech guy for the guys at the Bro House. Since his character is the one who voices the most moral objections to what goes on at the Bro House, it’s possible that he’s based on Jeff Wittek, a former member of the Vlog Squad who now swears that he was a bystander when the events that led to the allegations against Durte Dom occurred.


Whether these parallels are deliberate or merely incidental, “The Naughty List” certainly serves as an excellent parody of and commentary on the darker side of contemporary influencer culture.