The comedy-horror genre has reappeared on television screens in the form of Fox network’s new hit show, Scream Queens. Created by Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuck, and Ian Brennan, Scream Queens, which premiered on September 12, mashes together qualities of 80s and 90s horror films in a modern era.
It is as if we have been whisked away into a parody of a parody of a Halloween, Heathers, Cruel Intentions, and Scream mashup when Scream Queens opens in a flashback scene from 1994. “Who told you could have a baby here tonight?” shouts the Kappa Kappa Tau sorority president at the sister in the bathtub holding a newborn in her arms. Not wanting to ruin the party downstairs, the sister decides to ignore the situation, dance to “Waterfalls” and then return upstairs only to find the sister dead in the tub having bled to death. And hence sets the tone for premiere.
Jumping forward to 2015, we see the Kappa Kappa Tau sorority being led by a typical mean girl archetype Chanel No. 1 (Emma Roberts) and her other “friends” Chanel No. 2 (Ariana Grande), Chanel No.3 (Billie Lourd), and Chanel No. 5 (Abigail Breslin). Shortly after though, within the first 10 minutes, Chanel’s life comes crumbling down when the university’s dean, Dean Munsch (Jamie Lee Curtis, whose role in Halloween helped coin the term “scream queen”) requires KKT to open their bids to anyone who pledges. Once it is no longer selective, Chanel is forced to accept a slew of misfits: a candle blogger, a hearing-impaired Taylor Swift fan and a nerdy girl with a back brace (“Glee” alum Lea Michele). The only two seemingly-normal pledges are Grace (Skylar Samuels) and her determined roommate Zayday (Keke Palmer).
The plot of the two-hour premiere flipped back and forth between the 90s and present day in order to set up the plot of the crazed “red devil” serial killer who is targeting the Kappa Kappa Tau sisters. In fact, the body count piles up in the first episode and continues to build into the next episode.
Many viewers who are familiar with 90s films and the horror genre will appreciate and recognize the pop culture references in “Scream Queens.” Paying homage to Scream (1996), we laugh as the hired security guard (Niecy Nash) lists all the ineffective ways she will protect the girls in the house. Also winking at the comedy of Scream, we watch one of the Chanel’s text back and forth with the killer while they are only a foot away, and then she proceeds to tweet that she is “being killed” instead of screaming for help.
Murphy, Falchuck, and Brennan have created yet another show on television that picks apart the adolescent and college scene caste systems. Yet this time, instead of laughing with the characters such as in Glee, audience members question their reactions to laughing at hilarious one-liners and the witty banter that cover all sorts of societal issues from racism to homophobia. The show is fast paced, and, as cheesy as it may be, the complicated humor and story is a refreshing addition to the Fall TV lineup. Although it may not be for everyone, Scream Queens is worth watching.