TV Review: Scream Queens Season One

scream-queensSeason 1 of Fox’s dark comedy series premiered on 22 September, 2015, the brain child of creators Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, and Ian Brennan. With an avant-garde approach to social commentary, they create the worst possible stereotype of an elitist sorority headed by the quintessential “mean girl,” Chanel Oberlin (portrayed with an articulate poise by Emma Roberts.)
When the new dean of Wallace University, Cathy Munsch (acted by a true scream queen, Jamie Lee Curtis), threatens to close the Kappa Kappa Tau sorority unless they open their house to all interested pledges, a number of “undesirables” flood into the halls of the anorexic and shallow. Grace Gardner (Sklyer Samuels) pledges, hoping to learn more about her departed mother who love her time as a Kappa. Zayday Williams (Keke Palmer) tags along with sass enough to temper Grace’s naivety.
A killer, donning the school’s Red Devil mascot uniform, enjoys a killing spree, and the main targets are those in the Kappa Kappa Tau house. Trying to keep the body count down and the press quiet, Dean Munsch hires security guard Denise Hempfield (Niecy Nash), and the Kappas host a national representative of the sorority, Gigi Caldwell (Nasim Pedrad.) One of the pledges reveals an unnatural attraction for death and dying, another a love for candles, and a third an obsession with Taylor Swift.
As the body count rises, the mystery deepens.
Existent members of Kappa Kappa Tau (KKT) are all called Chanel, since getting to know their real names proved unnecessary to its president. Chanel number 2 is portrayed by the ever-vapid Arianna Grande, #3 by Billie Lourd (who makes earmuffs an integral fashion statement), and #4’s death bore nothing more than a mention in the pilot episode. Abigail Breslin portrays Chanel #5 who can’t chose between twin lovers. Chad Radwell (Glen Powell), one of the Dicky Dollar Scholars, dates Chanel, but finds fidelity difficult. His friend Boone (Nick Jonas) dislikes the hold Chanel has over his friend.
Everyone in the cast is a murder suspect. Twenty years earlier, one of the KKT sorority sisters died after unexpectedly giving birth during a campus party. Any of the co-eds on campus could be the child and perhaps the murder. The Dean has a storied past, Grace’s father has an unhealthy obsession, and the even the cleaning lady has motive. Dead bodies disappear. The murder mystery advances as red herrings and clues vie with a death-per-episode. The Red Devil employs ingenious ways to achieve its ends. Who knew a lawn mower could be so deadly, for example.
Scream Queens is not frightening, except to think such stereotypically awful, self-absorbed elitists might exist. The language and adult references are over-the-top, prompting a Rotten Tomatoes Reviewer to write that the show is “too tasteless for mainstream viewers and too silly for horror enthusiasts…” However, for film enthusiasts, picking up the nods to past films is interesting. Jamie Lee Curtis studied her mother’s iconic Psycho role for one of the episodes, capturing nuances of the famous shower scene.
With dark, sniping social commentary, Scream Queens explores the cruelty young people visit upon each other, the prejudices of the elite, and obsession with image, youth, and money. In one scene, a sorority sister exchanges “words” with her killer while he threatens her in her own room. She takes a moment out to update her social media status during the murder.
The show won a Critic’s Choice TV Award for most exciting new series, a People’s Choice for favorite new TV comedy, and won an award for its excellence with hairstyling and makeup. Several of the cast earned nominations for awards as well.
Season 2 of Scream Queens is scheduled to premiere on Fox on Tuesday, 20 September, 2016. The new season is to move the action from the New Orleans college campus to a hospital setting in LA. The producers promise three Halloween episodes, more deaths, and a new mystery.

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