Sara Snoddy // Contributing Writer
After a night filled with sonic sorority girl screams, questionable authority figures and red devil suits galore, Scream Queens is Glee and American Horror Story’s campy baby, all from co-creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk.
The much talked about horror-comedy aired the two-hour premiere, “Pilot” and “Hell Week,” back-to-back on Tuesday night. Featuring cool-girl Emma Roberts and Jamie Lee Curtis in quasi-lead roles, the anthology series, which will not reboot entirely every season like AHS, is set in the context of a series of gruesome murders at fictional Wallace University.
Some 20 years ago, sorority house Kappa Kappa Tau was the site of a young pregnant girls death, and, by the looks of it, the new girls residing in the stately house are following in their ‘sisters’ footsteps, all too willing to cover up murders. Only now it seems that the “Red Devil” wants to take part in the fun by hacking off what seems to be random people.
Employing the use of flashbacks, Murphy, Falchuk and co-creator Ian Brennan try to tell the gruesome history of Wallace’s notorious sorority house, now helmed by the dreaded Chanels, featuring Chanel Oberlin #1 (Roberts), Chanel #2 (Ariana Grande), Chanel #3 (Billie Lourd) and Chanel #5 (Abigail Breslin)—Chanel #4 met a harsh death before the semester started, which #1 casually announces. Clearly a parody of the Heathers and Regina George’s “workers” in Mean Girls, these girls are just part of the larger satire on university students and the horror film genre, which is the crux of Scream Queens.
While there may have been several ‘laugh out loud’ moments throughout the night, the real problem with the show is that it’s simply trying to do too much.
Lost in the cacophony of the large cast, supporting actresses Keke Palmer and Lea Michele’s roles are interesting but the former’s is hardly shown any depth while the latter is a satire of the nerd stereotype. But calling Scream Queens a satire is almost a copout. There are obvious attempts to poke fun at stereotypes, such as the typical black woman (Niecy Nash) playing a very bad security guard, or the gay best friend, Boone (Nick Jonas), who falls in love with his overtly heterosexual roommate. But these roles cross over from satire to a creation of an entirely new stereotype.
The Chanels are delightfully mean, and are at constant odds with Dean Cathy Munsch (Curtis) who has it out for the ‘sisters’, determined to eradicate so-called deplorable sororities. Roberts and her minions, along with Curtis, seem to genuinely enjoy their roles, wearing their characters expressions, emotions, and even movements like a second skin.
But one of the biggest missed opportunities was the inclusion of the other quasi-lead role, Grace Gardner, played by Robert’s AHS co-star Skyler Samuels. Gardner is the hero to Chanel #1’s villain, but unfortunately we don’t get a very deep look into her character beyond the lack of a mother figure and her helicopter dad. Her character, as important as it is, should have been fleshed out a bit more.
Overall, Scream Queens makes it known that no one can be trusted, especially not Dean Munsch or Boone, who we learn is not dead when the Red Devil pulls out his slab in the mortuary. After apparently killing Boone, the two seem to be on amicable terms.
The way this show is going, it’d be best not to pick favorite characters just yet.
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