We’ve been hit with a ton of new shows this week including Minority Report, The Muppets and now Scream Queens — no, not the VH1 reality show. Though the first two were decent enough, the latter comes out on top as one of my favorite premieres this week.
The show, which was developed by Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, and Ian Brennan (American Horror Story, Glee), draws from classic horror and sorority films, and adds a healthy dose of thrills, dark comedy, and campy goodness to the mix. The star-studded cast, which features famous faces like original scream queen Jamie Lee Curtis, along with Emma Roberts, Nick Jonas, and Lea Michele, works in tandem with the entertaining script to keep fans laughing, thinking, and constantly guessing where the story is headed next.
The show opens with the unfortunate death of one of Kappa Kappa Tau’s pledges back in 1995. After giving birth to a baby she didn’t even know she was pregnant with (because she thought she had just gained the freshman 15, obviously), her sorority sisters leave her to bleed out in a bath tub. I mean, there’s no way they were going to let the new mom’s post partum grossness ruin dancing to the classic TLC hit “Waterfalls,” right? Anyways, after they get their boogie on, they come back to find the girl dead in the bath tub.
We then arrive in the same house circa 2015 where the vicious Chanel Oberlin (Emma Roberts) reigns as the queen bee (or Chanel?) of the Kappa Kappa Tau sorority. If you were a fan of Roberts’ portrayal of Madison Montgomery in American Horror Story: Coven, this show is right up your alley. She refers to members of her posse as Chanel No. 2 (Ariana Grande), Chanel No. 3 (Billie Lourd) and Chanel No. 5 (Abigail Breslin), and is deliciously good at being bad. I do have to say, however, that though she’s supposed to be evil by design, her over-the-top racist and homophobic views made me pretty uncomfortable. She is nasty enough without making some of the unnecessary comments that are included in the script.
While many of Wallace University’s young adults worship and aspire to become a part of Kappa Kappa Tau, Dean Munsch (Jamie Lee Curtis) and a mysterious person sporting a devil costume are determined to topple it. After Munsch tries to get it shut down, the sorority’s President Gigi Caldwell (Nasim Pedrad) explains that it can’t be done without the approval of the board of trustees. Frustrated, the Dean crashes Kappa Kappa Tau’s rush party and takes a page out of Animal House’s book by making the announcement that they’ll now be forced to accept anyone and everyone who wants to join. As the crowd clears, we’re left with freshman and Kappa Kappa Tau legacy Grace Gardner (Skyler Samuels), the neckbrace-wearing death-obsessed Hester Ulrich (Lea Michele), Zayday Williams (Keke Palmer) and the rest of the rejects.
Clearly unhappy about what’s happening to her precious sorority (aka cult), Chanel — who’s also at risk of losing her uber popular douchebag boyfriend Chad (Glen Powell) — schemes with the house maid Ms. Bean, telling her that she’s going to scare the new pledges away by pretending to have an argument with the servant and dunking her head into the fryer. But, things don’t quite work out, and Ms. Bean ends up dead. It seems you CAN die by having your face burned off, who knew?
One thing leads to another, and before you know it the show’s characters start dropping like flies, including Grande’s character Chanel No. 2 and Chad’s best friend Boone (Nick Jonas) — who’s actually revealed to be alive at the end of the episode. I’m not sure if it was intentional, but killing off the high profile stars at the beginning is a nice little nod to the first Scream film in which Drew Barrymore’s character is murdered in the very first scene.
All of the mayhem calls for security guard Denise Hempville (Niecy Nash) to watch over the girls who’re now required to live in the Kappa house. As expected, Nash is all kinds of foolishness and is hilarious as Denise. Though she doesn’t have a gun, that doesn’t stop her from running, night stick raised high, into the house to save the girls (by guarding the door) when a masked intruder tries to kill Chanel. Grace’s father Wes (Oliver Hudson) also decides to stand guard near the sorority house, only stopping to flirt with Gigi.
The death scenes are laughable, but are entertaining and clever in their own ways. Ariana Grande’s in particular had shades of both Scream and Scary Movie but with a 2015 twist. As she’s packing her things in preparation to leave the house, she receives a text message from the masked murderer. When he finally enters the room (after daring her to open the door), the struggle plays out via text message (seen above), ending in Chanel No. 2 getting killed via stab wound, but not before she calls for help by updating her Twitter status.
As the bodies begin to pile up, Munsch covers everything up in fear of the university’s enrollment lowering. This leads Grace and her new friend/love interest Pete (Diego Boneta) to investigate the matter, and as a result, discover that the dean covered up a murder back in 1995. When Grace wonders aloud what happened to the baby of the girl who died in the bath tub, and later finds a devil costume in Pete’s closet, she connects the dots and suspects him.
I think it’s safe to say that making Pete the murderer is way too obvious. The good news is, for the plot’s sake, the 2-hour premiere gives us plenty to digest. With Jonas’ character Boone in cahoots with the man (or woman) in the devil costume, it is clear that multiple people may be involved. The only question is who. With a bunch of the show’s characters each having their own motives to bring the sorority down, and tendencies towards psychotic behavior, it looks like we’re going to have a hell of a good time finding out.
All in all, I was pleasantly surprised by Scream Queens, and can’t wait to see more. The sharp humor might not be for everyone, but if you’re a fan of campy horror spoofs, I think you’ll enjoy it. It is the perfect blend of Animal House, Scream, and American Horror Story that I never knew I wanted.
What did you think of the show? Are you going to continue watching? Let us know in the comments below.
Image Credits: Fox