Ryan Murphy is undoubtedly a genius when it comes to creating amazing television series. Nip/Tuck, Glee, and American Horror Story are some of the best series I’ve watched. The newest Murphy series, co-created with Brad Falchuk and Ian Brennan, Scream Queens, promises to offer a death in every episode, while also providing comedic relief. The pilot episode premiered this past Tuesday night, and it was a bloody mess.
Scream Queens centers on a group of women who are sisters of the Kappa Kappa Tau sorority. Back in 1995, a mysterious death at a party leaves sorority KKT with some skeletons in their closet. Fast forward 20 years, and Dean of Students Cathy Munsch, played by Jamie Lee Curtis, forces the sorority to accept anyone who is interested in joining. Emma Roberts revives her mean girl skills from American Horror Story: Coven as KKT president, Chanel Oberlin, who is the quintessential rich privileged sorority girl. Chanel, along with her minions, referred to as Chanel #2, #3, and #5, are furious because they don’t want the “fatties and ethnics” becoming sisters. Big surprise, the pledges consist of outcast women who are desperate to make friends. Soon after, sisters are being murdered one by one by a deranged serial killer dressed in a cheap devil costume, à la Ghostface in Scream.
About halfway through the premiere, I realized that the only reason that I was still watching was because of one interesting character (shout out to the pledge played by Lea Michele for rocking a neck brace and being creepily obsessed with death), along with wondering which terribly shallow character was going to be killed off next. The only time the show was mildly captivating was when Michele was on screen, or when someone was getting murdered. I was genuinely surprised at how grotesque some of the deaths shown were, especially since the show is part of Fox’s primetime lineup.
This spoof of spoof comedy left me unimpressed. The characters are completely self-aware of how awful they are, and no one is safe from being confined to a stereotype. The Greek students are superficial and elitist, the pledges are frumpy and borderline pathetic, and Dean Munsch is basically an angry feminist cougar. I even struggle to find a connection to the girl-next-door character who is most likely the main target of the serial killer. Rather than being comical, these characters just come off as trying too hard to be entertaining.
Maybe I had high expectations for Scream Queens. I wanted it to be satirical, with comical horror thrown in. Instead, I got a show with an unoriginal serial killer, pretty awful characters, and cheap comedy complete with lame attempts at referencing classic horror films. I will probably give it another chance and watch this week’s episode, but only because I feel like I owe it to Murphy to trust his process.