TV Recap: Scream Queens, ‘Pilot’ & ‘Hell Week’

Written by Tommy Tracy

SCREAM QUEENS: Cast Pictured L-R: Lucien Laviscount, Glen Powell, Nasim Pedrad, Nick Jonas, Billie Lourd, Ariana Grande, Abigail Breslin, Emma Roberts, Jamie Lee Curtis, Skyler Samuels, Diego Boneta, Keke Palmer, Oliver Hudson, Lea Michele and Niecy Nash in SCREAM QUEENS which debuts with a special, two-hour series premiere event on Tuesday, September 22 (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2015 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Matthias Clamer/FOX.
SCREAM QUEENS: Cast Pictured L-R: Lucien Laviscount, Glen Powell, Nasim Pedrad, Nick Jonas, Billie Lourd, Ariana Grande, Abigail Breslin, Emma Roberts, Jamie Lee Curtis, Skyler Samuels, Diego Boneta, Keke Palmer, Oliver Hudson, Lea Michele and Niecy Nash in SCREAM QUEENS which debuts with a special, two-hour series premiere event on Tuesday, September 22 (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2015 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Matthias Clamer/FOX.

I was incredibly excited when I heard that Glee and American Horror Story creator Ryan Murphy would be tackling a teen slasher-esque television show. As someone who absolutely loves the slasher genre and has been starved for more masked killers to slash unsuspecting teens into pieces, Scream Queens is a huge breath of fresh air. Though I had some small reservations coming in (such as the way Murphy and company write for an all female cast), I couldn’t have been more excited to see this show air. Thank God, it exceeded all expectations.

Photo Credit: Jill Greenberg/FOX.
Photo Credit: Jill Greenberg/FOX.

Scream Queens offers a killer (pun intended) cast, which includes queen bitch Chanel (Emma Roberts), shy new girl Grace (Skyler Samuels), idiot minions Chanel 2, 3 and 5 (Ariana Grande, Billie Lourd and Abigail Breslin, respectively), creepy reporter Pete (Diego Boneto), spoiled golfers Chad and Boone (Glen Powell and Nick Jonas), dark cripple Hester (Lea Michele) and sassy Zayday (Keke Palmer). The biggest catch of all, however, is scream queen legend herself, Jamie Lee Curtis as Dean Cathy Munsch, who happens to be feuding with Chanel over the way Kappa Kappa Tau is run. All these characters (and more!) were introduced in the episodes two-hour premiere and all of them worked in their time on screen, offering GREAT character development and excellent one-liners, most of which belonged to Chanel. Roberts excels in being an absolute bitch and her gleeful and open bigot and superior attitude make for an absolutely enthralling character. I can’t wait to see what more she has to offer this season, especially when on screen with Curtis. These two have explosive chemistry together. Samuels is also very believable in her role as new girl Grace, discovering that a sorority is not all it’s cracked up to be.

The premiere episodes begin in 1995, where a sorority party is interrupted by a sister’s untimely birth. While the head of house berates the young girl for nearly making her miss her favorite song (“Waterfalls” by TLC), she instructs her not to leave the bathtub she’s in while they dance to the song. Upon their return, the new mother is found dead, presumably from bleeding out. Fast-forward twenty years and Kappa Kappa House is as popular as ever, now run by Chanel. But Dean Munsch throws a wrench in Kappa House’s plans to have no new recruits and enlists a new rule that any new pledge can join. A group of what can only be dubbed as “freaks” join and are instantly chastised by the old regime. All the while, a masker killer, wearing blood red devil garb has started his (or her) killer rampage through the campus, knocking off a few of the houses inhabitants very quickly (no spoilers here but there are a few deaths very early). The remainder of the episode deals with the girls banding together to survive the killer and their pledge to the house, ending with a nice twist that is hard to see coming.

Scream Queens is an excellent throwback to the mid to late 90’s slasher genre (I’m looking at you, Scream), with self-referential humor and pop culture jokes. The deaths are pretty brutal for television and the dialogue, while different to most audiences, is engaging and hilarious. But be warned: this is not Murphy’s American Horror Story. You aren’t going to see really disturbing images like you do on that show. This isn’t made to frighten or appall its audience. This show is balls to the wall fun. Ridiculous at times but I never stopped having fun. While I’m sure there are a few things wrong with the show that won’t absolutely please everyone, I found nothing that stood out to me that weren’t slight nitpicks (i.e. saying “that’s my jam” in 1995 was not a thing). But Scream Queens premiered as perfect as a pilot as you can get. I’m sure the show will show some flaws and slow down a bit but until then, I’m riding this speeding train all the way until next Tuesday’s episode.

Rating: 10/10

Scream Queens airs Tuesday nights on FOX

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