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TV Review: Scream Queens 1.1 & 1.2 “Pilot/Hell Week”
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Scream Queens Cast Photo

Scream Queens
Season 1 Episode 1: “Pilot”
Season 1 Episode 2: “Hell Week”
Directed by Ryan Murphy (Ep 1)
Written by Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, Ian Brennan (Ep 1)
Starring Emma Roberts, Jamie Lee Curtis, Lea Michele, Abigail Breslin, Nasim Pedrad, Oliver Hudson, Skyler Samuels, Keke Palmer, Billie Lourd, Nick Jonas
FOX
Air Date: Tuesday, September 22nd, 2015, 8pm

Scream Queens is the new horror/comedy series on FOX that debuts tonight. It certainly lives up to its name, featuring an A-list cast of young actresses, whose pipes are put to the test as a costumed serial killer stalks Wallace University, and attacks the girls of Kappa House. Oh yeah, Dean Cathy Munsch is played by the original “scream queen” herself, Jamie Lee Curtis. The show was created by Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, and Ian Brennan, the guys who brought us both Glee and American Horror Story. And Scream Queens is just that: a happy and ridiculous marriage of those two shows.

Spoilers below, plus a video of screams, aptly named “Scream Queens Super-Sized Main Title Sequence.”

We open at a KKT sorority party in 1995 where one of the sisters ruins the party by delivering her baby in an upstairs bathroom. Ugh, what a party pooper! Of course, she bleeds out and the baby survives, and every ’80s horror slasher is born!

Fast-forward 20 years and Grace (Skylar Samuels) is being dropped off at school by overprotective widower dad Wes (Oliver Hudson). Her mom was a Kappa, and she wants to follow in her mother’s tradition despite dad’s objections to sorority life… could it be because Mom died in a bathtub?

When we meet the Kappas, we find Dad’s fears confirmed; they obviously watched Mean Girls and saw Rachel McAdams as the hero. There’s leader Chanel #1 (Emma Roberts) and Chanel #’s 2, 3, and 5. They don’t have individual names as of yet. The Chanels (Ariana Grande, Abigail Breslin, and Billie Lourd) reign abuse down on the new pledges, including Grace and her roommate Zayday (Keke Palmer). There are also some real cliched losers: the scoliosis-challenged weirdo Hester (Lea Michele), deaf Taylor Swift-loving Tiffany (Whitney Meyer), and the “predatory lez” Sam (Jeanna Han). Why would such an elite sorority allow such undesirables into their house, you may ponder? Because Dean Munsch HATES Kappa House and when her original plan to close them down fails, option 2 is to force them to let anyone who wants in, to get in.

As if being forced to deal with the “dregs of society” wasn’t bad enough for Chanel and her minions, there’s a slightly more pressing issue – the killer, dressed in the school mascot Red Devil costume, stalking around campus and offing them one by one. Chanel, though, is more concerned with keeping Kappa House traditions alive, like torturing the pledges during Hell Week rather than dealing with pesky murders. After all, she must maintain her relationship with the most popular guy on campus, Chad Radwell (Glen Powell). The writers must’ve brainstormed the jockiest sounding name in the world for that character. Chad meanwhile would rather play golf with Boone (Nick Jonas) and sleep around with Dean Munsch, than pay Chanel any mind. Chanel sees Grace as a threat to her top status, and that’s only reinforced when Grace gets close to barista Pete (Diego Boneta) whom Chanel charges was an icky stalker of hers. As with MTV’s summer horror hit Scream, the Scream Queens lines up possible suspects as much as it lines up possible victims.

The show is the best and worst parts of Glee and American Horror Story. The sorority stuff is intentionally so over the top and mean spirited, that some might just get annoyed. But having loved Glee, I’m used to the pigeon-holed characters (the gay, the handicapped, the black girl, the fatty). The best thing I can say about Scream Queens is that it actually felt like an 80’s slasher movie playing out on TV. Sure the cliches are there, but if you love horror movies, you sign up for that. And for as silly as the dialogue gets, the actors own their roles, especially Roberts and Curtis. There are some homages tossed in for the geekier audience (me). For instance Nick Jonas’ Boone looks a helluva lot like Peter Riegert in Animal House, whose nickname was “Boon.” Also, JAWS fans will giggle at Dean Munsch’s “Mayor Vaughn” speech to the press after a particularly grisly murder.

The killer is really cool. I love the costume, and the school mascot idea is unique. A masked red devil can actually walk around campus without anyone turning a head. The premiere hinted at showing more flashbacks and digging into the backstories of the central characters. Inevitably, the bathtub baby at the beginning will find its way to the center of the story. They already laid some hints or diversions to whom that is.

Scream Queens succeeds as both as a horror series with an awesome costumed killer and some hilariously cool death scenes; and as a college aged Mean Girls-type comedy. I actually laughed out loud several times at some of the one-liners.

The Scream Queens 2-hour season premiere debuts on tonight, September 22, 2015, at 8pm ET on FOX.

Image Gallery

Video

Scream Queens Super-Sized Main Title Sequence

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