Scream Queens Season 1 Episodes 1 and 2 – TV Review
I had my misgivings about this. I really did. Those first trailers looked like over-stylised, Dutch angle-fucked, substance-less trash.
But still, for some reason I can’t even pin down, I expected Scream Queens to be decent.
Didn’t I learn anything from Glee and seasons 3 and 4 of American Horror Story?
TL;DR Scream Queens is shit. Total shit. It doesn’t know where the line between comedy and horror is, probably because it doesn’t know what comedy or horror are. It’s like Scary Movie without any jokes. Our poor actors at least get to wear some colourful outfits, and there’s a tiny bit of gore to write home about.
Dear home: go back in time and don’t watch Scream Queens.
The plot is an extremely generic college slasher setup, with caricatures and a costuming department in place of characters. In 1995, the selfish sorority sisters of Kappa Kappa Tau let one of their own bleed to death after giving birth unexpectedly. Now, in 2015, present day Kappa is lead by Chanel (Emma Roberts woke up hungover after the American Horror Story season 3 wrap party and just wandered in with the same performance. The lucky girl was too drunk to remember any of season 4), an evil dictator befitting of literally any college movie sorority Alpha Bitch. She’s on thin ice with Dean Jamie Lee Curtis, and is forced to entertain a gaggle of boogers as Kappa’s new pledges. Then she accidentally (or is it!?) murders her maid, and any semblance of logic or relatability in the plot evaporates. Meanwhile, our other lead is Skyler Samuels, a boring nice girl whose mum was once a Kappa back in the day. She and her black friend set out to infiltrate Kappa, and then she also teams up with an investigative reporter/love interest to expose Chanel’s shit or something. Other characters include: the one-note, stereotyped pledge boogers; Chanel’s one-note, stereotyped minons; Chanel’s one-note, stereotyped boyfriend; and Skyler’s one-note, stereotyped dad.
Oliver Hudson is now apparently old enough to be the dad character. God, was Black Xmas really that long ago?
Like I said, I expected this to be decent. You can’t put a cast together like that and churn out something completely irredeemable, can you?
This could have been Sorority Row: The TV series.
Good God, why did it go so wrong?
Why I hate this episode:
Nothing works. Nothing. Even the gore, which could have saved it (and was what really helped out Black Xmas, by the way) is obligatorily neutered. Because this is network television, bitch. Ugh.
The greatest problem with Scream Queens is that nobody acts even close to a normal human being. I understand that it’s probably going for a Jawbreaker-esque, hyperrealism thing. But that’s not going to make things tense or scary. Scream went too far in trying to make us care about the characters’ personal drama and lives, and was ultimately too shallow to get there. Scream Queens goes full throttle in the other direction and slaps us with barely-archetypes of characters who we don’t care about, don’t have anything valuable to say, and don’t behave with any ounce of rationality.
The most egregious examples of this occur after the maid gets killed in Chanel’s deep fryer prank gone awry. Chanel had schemed to dunk the maid’s face in a switched-off deep fryer to scare the booger pledges, but the fryer turned out to be on, so the poor dear got her face cooked, then died. Now remember, the witnesses to this are Chanel herself, all three of her numbered minions, and six pledge girls. Not one of them calls the police. Skyler and black friend Keke Palmer, our supposed good girls, make a token attempt to, but Chanel instantly takes a vote to blackmail them into compliance with the threat of accusing them of the murder if they tell the police. What the fuck, cunts? Just go, anyway. You literally just saw a girl murder somebody. Get the fuck out and call the cops. Fuck.
Things get worse when Skyler and Keke then participate in the coverup of the body. Pete (Alex from early PLL. Remember him?), Skyler’s love interest and investigative reporter, spies on them. He later confronts Skyler about how he knows exactly what went down. So he and Skyler then go to the police, right? Nope. They team up to further infiltrate Kappa to learn more secrets and write an exposé to end Chanel’s rule. Because the fact that Chanel just fucking murdered someone and covered it up isn’t scandalous enough? What. The. Actual. Fuck.
Similarly, in the opening flashback to 1995, none of the girls who find Miss Birth In The Bath go and call an ambulance. The bitchier ones go down to dance to their favourite song, instead. But the sympathetic brunette, who actually gives a shit, just sits in the bathroom and watches the mother die. Go to the fucking phone, cunt! Fuck.
Poor Emma Roberts gets saddled with endless streams of tangential, meaningless Ryan Murphy-ism dialogue. She has a big fucking scene about how she likes her pumpkin spice latté a particular way. This chews up a shitload of screentime, and means nothing. It’s only there to show that she’s mean to Pete.
After Pete starts flirting with Skyler soon after, Chanel blows up his spot by revealing to Skyler that she had to take a restraining order out on Pete because he stalked her last year. Pete admits to this, because it’s true. But instead of taking her victory lap now that she’s squashed Skyler’s budding romance, Chanel then arbitrarily admits that she manipulated him and Pete actually isn’t a sex offender, really. Way to ruin your own scheme, bitch.
I cannot express how much I hate the arch, Stepford Wives aesthetic of the sorority house and the girls’ dress styles. No sorority in 2015 looks like that. And no hot, popular girl in 2015 would dress like that, much less force her minions to dress like that.
Chanel takes Skyler aside for a negotiation near the end of the episode to try to bribe her with power in pursuit of calling off her little “save the integrity of the sorority” campaign. Chanel says Skyler is the only girl in school who’s even near to being as smart as her. Have you guys even started classes yet? You’ve met, like, twice. How could you know that?
Ariana Grande’s death scene is a fucking abomination. It’s supposed to be a cute little commentary about how “kids these days” communicate via text too much. But if we’re supposed to give any kind of shit about Scream Queens as a slasher show, then it fails. It looks like a sketch that was cut from SNL for time. It’s pathetic. She tries to tweet for help when the Red Devil attacks her, for fuck’s sake. Your phone is in your hand, Ariana. Jesus. Also, you turned your back on the killer. Fuck off.
Keke Palmer’s only two personality attributes are “sassy” and “black.” Add that to Chanel’s ceaseless racist rants, and it doesn’t look good.
There is champagne flowing at the Kappa rush party, which both Jamie Lee and lawyer/Kappa national president Nasim Pedrad attend. They are evidently okay with underage drinking, then?
Why did Chanel bring her maid with her to the coffee shop to pal around? The scene includes the explanation of the deep fryer scheme, so I understand why it’s there. But did they have to go out in public for that? Is it cool to go hang out with your maid? I don’t think so.
The Dutch angle quota is already overfilled.
Ariana’s death doesn’t include a chase scene.
Deaf Taylor Swift’s death doesn’t include a chase scene.
Oh, and to close this segment, I have to say that Scream Queens isn’t as bad as Ravenswood. But it’s easily on the level of Under the Dome season 3. And that’s the scariest thing about this utter abomination of a show.
But it’s not all bad:
Deaf Taylor’s Swift’s death was pretty goopy. She gets her head run over with a lawnmower. I’ll take it.
And thank God Ariana is dead, already. Did you really want to endure any more of that “acting?”
The casting is the biggest drawcard here. As bland as all the characters are, I appreciate that almost everyone is someone I recognise. Lea Michele shuffles in as one of the booger pledges; Oliver Hudson is my Black Xmas beau 4eva; Nick Jonas is the friend of Chanel’s douchey, on/off boyfriend; Bruno Mars is one of the booger pledges; and Jamie Lee Curtis is the consummate Scream Queen.
The maid pulling her deep fried face off was retarded, but fun.
TLC’s Waterfalls is pretty great, you know.
Chanel supposedly ousted the former Kappa president, to whom she herself was an oppressed minion, by putting acid in her spray tan. I like it.
Jamie Lee is blackmailing Chanel’s boyfriend into sex, but doesn’t even like him.
Oh, and the maid’s body disappears from the freezer, and Chanel assumes she must be alive. I admire her optimism.
TL;DR The red herrings start coming hard and fast as news of the killer on campus erupts; Skyler and Pete lead the charge in uncovering the secrets of 1995; Chanel is more interested in breaking up with/getting back together with her douchey boyfriend; a random nobody character is killed to satisfy the Harper’s Island-esque “one must die every episode” demand; Nick Jonas turns out to be gay, and in league with the Red Devil.
I would like to think that no Ryan Murphy gay character could ever be worse than Kurt. But I still live in fear.
The plot picks up right after the lawnmower murder from last episode. Jamie Lee forces the Kappas and the pledges to live together in the sorority house for safety or something, and Skyler begins her mission to start snooping. She finds a hidden room with the bloody bathtub and clothes of the 1995 dead mother, and Chanel obligingly fills in the rest of the story: Jamie Lee and the maid apparently found out and helped with the coverup. Meanwhile, Pete snoops through Jamie Lee’s office for clues, but is turfed out by the Red Devil. Skyler later finds the Red Devil costume in Pete’s closet, but apparently that’s the school mascot outfit, so whatever, I guess? The red herrings continue as Nasim starts getting close to Oliver, both of whom have unhealthy, unexplained attachments to the 90s. Elsewhere, Chanel breaks up with her douchey boyfriend, Chad, because he’s bad at sex (Jamie Lee told him that last episode, too). She reconsiders and tries to get back with him, but finds him and Nick in bed together. It was only platonic on Chad’s part, but Chanel’s overreaction causes Chad to dump her for good. And then Nick ends up as the Red Devil’s next victim. Except he isn’t, and was only playing. Oh, and Niecy Nash wishes she was as good as Loretta Devine in Urban Legend and Urban Legends: Final Cut, showing up as a sassy, black security guard.
Because we didn’t already have a female character whose only attributes were “sassy” and “black,” right?
The only improvements in this episode over the first are that the plot is more important this time around. Which saves us from too many crass monologues from Chanel about things that don’t matter. And we get quite a bit of beefcake, too.
So it’s got a leg up on Under the Dome season 3, now.
Why I hate this episode:
The pace is way too fucking fast. The quantity of red herrings is too much for a single episode, let alone the second episode of a new series. Jesus Christ, slow down. Scream Queens is either going to run out of material very quickly, or it’ll do an American Horror Story and just chuck celebrity cameo characters into the later episodes.
Chanel is inconsistent. She’s supposed to be this lording Alpha Bitch. At the very least, she’s cruel enough to be apathetic about one of her minions getting brutally stabbed to death under her nose last episode. But when Lea Michele, who turns out to be a goddamn pyscho, offers a plan to dispose of Ariana’s body (as opposed to calling the police, you know?), Chanel gets horribly freaked out and can’t bear the thought of it. Get some gumption, cunt. God.
Worse, she instead makes Lea and the remaining minions put Ariana’s body in the freezer. The same one they lost the last body from. Although, to be fair, Chanel still thinks the maid disappeared because she was alive. Which is even dumber, really.
On the topic of people apparently not being dead when they’re supposed to be, the episode closes out with the Red Devil retrieving a very-much-alive Nick Jonas from the morgue freezer. The gash on his neck was just makeup. Umm, what? Was there not a single medical practitioner in the entire process of getting Nick’s supposedly dead body from his fraternity house and into the morgue freezer? Because someone would have noticed the fucking latex on his neck, let alone the fact that he’s bloody alive. Come on, Scream Queens. I know you’re supposed to be campy, but come on.
Much like the Stepford styling of the Kappas, Chad and Nick’s fraternity are similarly designed. They wear sweaters over their shoulders and everything. Wet Hot American Summer’s Netflix series used that to be intentionally farcical only a couple of months ago. Scream Queens is really pushing not to be taken seriously in any way, huh?
The group scream and freak out from the fraternity brothers when they find Nick’s body is just lame. It’s not funny.
Chanel No. 5 (Abigail Breslin) flits between being devastated and being totally apathetic. She also flies into an unsubstantiated rage when Nick suggests he come out as gay and pledge Kappa. The thought of him sullying the traditions of Kappa makes her basically threaten to kill him. Do you get it, audience!? She’s a suspect! Do you get it!?
Niecy Nash is funny because she’s sassy and black. But should that be worthy of praise? Reese from the Urban Legend movies is also sassy and black, but she’s actually determined to do her job properly and help the kids. Yeah, Reese is kind of incompetent, but she’s a hero. Niecy is not a hero. She’s just there to jive talk and lampshade the stupidity of the girls’ decision to chase the killer upstairs, instead of running out the front door. And she abandons them. She’s Brenda from Scary Movie. Which you think would be a good thing, but it’s not.
Why is Chanel so forthcoming with the 1995 legend when she finds Skyler breaking into the secret basement room?
Niecy’s partner’s death doesn’t include a chase scene.
Nick’s “death” doesn’t include a chase scene.
Oh, and the adult characters (and the news crews) talk about the killer as a serial killer. But that doesn’t make any sense, because the only death at this point that they know about is Deaf Taylor Swift (the girls covered up the maid and Ariana).
But it’s not all bad:
It’s beefcake time. We get shirtless scenes from Chad, Nick, and Pete. Chad’s is the best. Because who doesn’t want a hot douche? They’re refreshing.
Nick gets a sweaty, solo workout session set to Sunglasses At Night. It works.
Chad is the only one who knows Nick is gay, because Nick made a move on him one time. But he’s still his bro, bro. Nick manages to get some spooning time with Chad because he’s scared, which Chad allows as long as there’s no funny business. Nick tests the waters, but complies. How progressive.
Chanel, of course, walks in on this and assumes they’re a couple. Chad finds her response homophobic, and so permanently dumps her. Both because of her homophobia, and because she dumped him earlier and he didn’t like that very much (he’s another red herring, by the way).
Jamie Lee uses her sex to get Oliver to back down on his demands to shut down the university for his daughter’s safety. He also bargains a teaching position (he’s a professor or something) out of her.
The Bruno Mars pledge is a tumblrtard.
Skyler is too young to be the 1995 baby, so that rules her out of the suspect pool on that one. Or is she!?
The girls, against Niecy’s advice, team up to hunt down the Red Devil after he attacks Chanel at Kappa. Smart.
Oh, and something truly scary occurs: Emma Roberts dumps the hottest love interest she’s had on a Ryan Murphy show. What a waste.