I’m a Milennial. It’s a fact I can’t escape and a word that seems to be just as much insult as a fact. However, it does come with its perks. One such perk is that I remember the cast of Scream Queens not as their pop-culture selves, but rather as some of their earliest roles as they stepped forth into the acting industry.
Take pop-princess Arianna Grande – who is one of many singer-songwriters who appear in a star-studded pilot episode – for instance, I remember her performing an amazing duet on Nickelodeon show Victorious, I remember Lea Michelle as the Broadway star who played the awkward and ambitious leading lady in Glee‘s first ever episode and not to brag, but I remember the short period in her life when Emma Roberts was Unfabulous.
If you add a dash of Jonas Brothers, present matriarchal duties to Jamie Lee Curtis and let Glee and The New Normal writer Ryan Murphy loose with a premise and you’ve got one killer – quite literally – of a TV show featuring some of the hottest acting talent of the decade.
Scream Queens is yet another sorority-based drama to hit the small screen bringing with it all the trademarks of those that came before, setting itself up to be another portrayal of vapid sorority girls taking part in elitist ritual hazing of those considered beneath them. Enter Emma Roberts as Chanel, a marauding pit-bull of a Sorority president who oozes sex appeal, ambition and Daddy issues. As the curtain raises, Chanel is bossing her minions around in a way that Gossip Girl’s Blair Waldorf would be proud of, simultaneously proving that she’s not only a fashion icon, but an unstable individual teetering on the edge of the sociopath cliff that is the presidency of Kappa Kappa Tau.
Kappa Kappa Tau is a place for pretty young things that have money, self-righteous attitudes and plenty of desire to step on others to reach their goals – not to mention their classy sorority house certainly wouldn’t look out of place in 2007 teen-drama series Greek. But what does American Horror Story writer Ryan Murphy have in store to shake up this fairly cliché college experience? There’s a lingerie-clad model that has her tanning spray swapped out for Hydrochloric Acid, which for those of you who didn’t pay attention in chemistry, is particularly corrosive.
There’s also the girl who gives birth to a girl in a bath only to die shortly after, a pledge who meets her end via the rotary blades of a lawnmower and a cleaning lady who has her face melted off in cooking oil. In spite of the murderous going son, perhaps the biggest threat to the KKT house comes in the form of veteran actress Jamie Lee Curtis, who shines as Dean Munsch – pronounced ‘munch’ of course, for the back and forth banter between the two leading ladies.
The Dean, determined to stomp out the elitist behaviour at the Kappa house, teams up with a in stuck-in-the-nineties lawyer to ensure that the Kappas can’t be quite so ‘selective’ with their pledges during rush week. Cue the influx of typically over exaggerated misfits and dorks including headgear-wearing Lea Michelle, sassy Keke Palmer and what might be the most pathetic of them all, depressingly normal Grace, portrayed by Skyler Samuels.
Joining the melting pot of oestrogen are a few of the usual distractions, hot jocks, ambitious wannabe-journalists out for a story and the mysterious campus killer, who combine with fashion statements, and enough outfit changes to make you wish you have but a fraction of the show’s costume budget, to give Scream Queens a nice twist on the teen-dramas that have come before. And strong performances from Roberts and Curtis help distract from the unacceptably surreal moments that feel out of place even in a so called horror-comedy.
As a fan of all three genres that Scream Queens could encompass it was a refreshing turn to see that Murphy’s script had forgone the old drama adage of inserting a teachable moment into life on a college campus. Instead, Chanel simply obliterates the one moment that came close with well-phrased rebuttals and elitist gibber-jabber, convincing me that Scream Queens is going to be hanging around for the long haul.
Admittedly, it’s a little more Pretty Little Liars and a little less Glee than I was expecting, but no doubt Scream Queens fills a void in modern culture, providing its predictably female target audience with high-class fashion, style-setting trends and cameo appearances from Joe Jonas, all with the added bonus of being able to tell your friends ‘I’m only watching it for the murder.’
Whether you’re a fan of pop-culture, pop-princesses or watching heads go ‘pop’ E4’s latest acquisition has something for everyone, and the well-known names and faces in the cast do justice to Murphy’s script proving that given the chance, he could get the balance between Glee and American Horror Story just right.