The term “scream queen” was coined to describe actresses like Jamie Lee Curtis who made a name for herself when she was younger by starring in horror films like John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978) where she had to do a lot of screaming as her characters typically had to run and hide from some serial killer or monster. For Curtis, it’s particularly appropriate as she’s also the daughter of Janet Leigh, an actress whose scream was made iconic in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960).
Scream Queens is a horror/black comedy television series created for Fox by Ryan Murphy (AHS, Nip/Tuck), Brad Falchuk and Ian Brennan. The first season takes place at the fictional Wallace University. One of the sororities, Kappa Kappa Tau, becomes plagued by a group of serial killers, who use the university’s Red Devil mascot as a disguise.
In 1995, at a party at the house of Kappa Kappa Tau, Amy, Bethany, Coco, and Mandy find Sophia, a pledge, lying in a bathtub of one of the bathrooms, and has given birth to a baby. Instead of helping, all of the sorority sisters but Amy walk out to go dance to the song “Waterfalls” by TLC. When the sisters come back, they are shocked to find Sophia dead….
In present day, Grace Gardner begins attending Wallace University and plans to join the Kappa Kappa Tau sorority house run by the ruthless Chanel Oberlin (Emma Roberts) and her minions to honor her mother, who was once a member. Dean Cathy Munsch (Curtis) attempts to shut down KKT due to Chanel’s rude behaviour and an assault on the presidential predecessor Melanie Dorkus that occurred last spring.
After threatening to revoke the charter, Gigi Caldwell votes in their favour, and per her suggestion Kappa is forced to accept anyone who wishes to join including Grace, Zayday, Hester (neck brace), Tiffany (deaf Taylor Swift), Jennifer (Candle vlogger) and Sam (predatory lez), lowering Chanel’s popularity and causing her rich and womanizing boyfriend, Chad Radwell, a member of the Dickie Dollar Scholars, to end their relationship.
Ms. Bean, Kappa’s housemaid, is killed in a prank devised by Chanel to scare the pledges off and has her face burned off from a fryer machine. They all hide the body in the house’s storage freezer. Scared, Grace joins forces with Pete Martinez, an investigative reporter who also works at the college’s coffee shop and both plan to take down Chanel and restore Kappa Kappa Tau’s reputation. Shortly afterwards, Ms. Bean’s body disappears and the girls are all targeted by a serial killer known as The Red Devil.
There’s the prelude for what’s to come in the remainder of the season but let’s not spoil anything! So, what did I think about Scream Queens as a whole? I loved it!
I genuinely found the series extremely entertaining from beginning to end; it introduces a lot of characters and found myself liking almost all of them. Scream Queens is a show exploding with horror/slasher movie clichés and stereotypes but it embraces them in the best way possible which leads to a lot of fun moments.
From Chanel Oberlin as the queen bitch of the sorority to Denise Hemphill as the incompetent security guard, they’re clichés but that’s exactly what they are meant to be. Other than giving us some great characters, Scream Queens goes one step further and gives the audience a murder mystery story about a serial killer that is intriguing with many twists and turns until the very end.
For a series like Scream Queens to work it needed to leave the audience guessing over whom the killer could be and it does this very effectively until the final reveal. It’s at this point in which others have failed, delivering a killer that is painfully obvious or one that makes little sense. I won’t say it isn’t obvious but the explanation is smart and makes such sense that it’s very satisfying to finally understand.
Another aspect in which Scream Queens succeeds is comedy, it’s very funny. The dialogue for this show is a riot, it’s done extremely well. I can’t remember a show that made me laugh this much or one that was as quotable, this is exactly my kind of comedy and it blends perfectly with this type of horror.
If I had to choose a favourite character then it would undoubtedly be the leader of the Dickie Dollar Scholars himself, Chad Radwell. Every single time he was on screen I was laughing out loud at some of the things that came out of his mouth. His final scene of the series with Denise may have been the funniest of all; I truly hope he returns in season 2.
Talking of Denise, she’s a close second for my favourite characters of the season. Again, she’s absolutely hilarious to watch.
Even if the material can become quite silly at times, you can tell the actors are having a complete blast with it and giving it their all. Emma Roberts plays her role as the clueless dictator of Kappa Kappa Tau perfectly; she may have been born to play Chanel Oberlin.
One of my only complaints would probably have to be Grace Gardner, it’s quite a big complaint though as she’s basically the main character. She plays the typical straight, nice girl who truly wants to feel important but ultimately turns out not to be. She’s quite bland overall but in a show that’s filled with some much silliness her character was necessary.
This show may have more characters that I liked in it than most shows have a single character. From the Chanel’s to Pete Martinez or Weston Gardener, each of them adds greatly to this refreshing show. I can’t mention memorable characters without bringing up one of the original scream queens herself, Jamie-Lee Curtis playing the role of Dean Cathy Munsch. It’s been a while since we’ve seen Curtis do much but she truly let’s herself go here and has a lot of fun with the character. I’m glad to see that she will be returning for season 2.
Finally, what would a show about a serial killer be without blood and gore? I wouldn’t say there is a lot of gore in the show but when there is it’s over the top but very entertaining indeed.
Scream Queens was engaging and amusing in all of the ways that a horror/comedy about a serial killer wielding a chainsaw in a red devil suit should be, I can’t wait for season 2.
Scream Queens - Season 1
- The Final Score - 9/109/10