The Horror Honeys: Scream Queens Brought Horror Comedy to the Masses...

Scream Queens Brought Horror Comedy to the Masses...

But was it worth it?

A Horror TV Honey Series Review by Lisa

Scream Queens: Season 1 (2015)

Prolific: adjective | pre-‘li-fik | Producing a large amount of something

Sometimes, utilizing the word prolific to describe someone is not a good thing. Case in point: Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk. They started out with Nip/Tuck, added Glee, The New Normal, American Horror Story and now we have Scream Queens. Not to be outdone, American Crime Story; The People Vs. OJ Simpson is debuting next month. 

Today, we shall be focusing on Scream Queens, the horror comedy that debuted this past fall. It’s well known in some circles that Murphy made the mistake of claiming that a horror comedy had never been done before. In fact, he claimed to have invented this specific breed of entertainment himself. Well, any horror fan, casual or otherwise, can tell you that this is unequivocally false, but whatevs. Let’s get down to the nitty gritty and talk about this season of television that was, indeed, something I had never encountered before.

Before sharing my opinions, I would like to tell everyone that fellow horror sister and Guest TV Honey @afooltocry did an absolutely bang up job of re-capping every episode this season via her Instagram account (catch up with her opinions HERE). Mostly, she found it to be a fun show with some deliciously snarky humor and fun horror movie moments. She really hated Grace’s hats, though. 

It’s well documented that my love of Nip/Tuck is why I just can’t quit Murphy and Falchuk, so every time they debut a new show, I pray to baby Xenu that it will live up to my expectations. Hell, I would have been happy if Scream Queens had lived up to half of my expectations. In my unscientific research that I call live tweeting, I found that the audience really enjoyed the mean girl behavior that was constantly on display and they got a real kick out of some of the horror movie homages that were freely used. I think we can all agree that the Exorcist 3 homage was the crowning achievement in this area, with the Motel Hell moment coming in second.

As per usual, Murphy’s wardrobe and set design teams were completely on point. The sterile, candy coated vibe of Kappa House was like an ice queen’s version of the Barbie dream home and while I don’t know that I necessarily loved the wardrobe, it was a very specific and unique aesthetic that I’m sure lots of ladies are already replicating. I will take Chanel #5’s cat ear pillbox hat,though, thank you very much. 
I need this hat.
With Jamie Lee Curtis, the original scream queen, on board, this show looked like it was going to be a super fun, darkly comedic look at mean girl behavior and the institutions that seem to breed and encourage it. And it was. But it was just mean. Yes, there were some laugh out loud lines and scenes, but mostly, this was a full season of Emma Roberts constantly referring to her female “friends” with every single possible ugly word ever invented to refer to women. And why was she yelling all of the time? Probably because she’s hungry. Seriously, if Abigail Breslin is the “bloated” one on a show, everyone needs to eat a couple of tacos. 

Somewhere around the midway point of the season, I wondered if my age was preventing me from “getting” the humor and choice words that were being flung about on the show. I’ll admit that I had to look up more than one word on Urban Dictionary; I’m not ashamed. So, I consulted a young person who has yet to suffer her quarter life crisis and was even a member of a sorority! I shall now quote @AlyssSmithh. “The thing is, that I could really get behind it if the show was satirical, smart and funny, but it’s really none of those things and it’s just a lot of snarky girl on girl hate. And I can’t get behind that.” If I felt like being supremely lazy, I would just use that quote as my entire season review. Alas, I am not, but I’m also not going to spend an inordinate amount of time on something that tried my nerves as much as this did. 

The Good:
  • Jamie Lee Curtis is a goddess and if it hadn’t been her delivering some of these lines, I definitely would have started throwing furniture at my television. 
  • Abigail Breslin and Billie Lourd were supremely fun as the vacuous and self absorbed Chanel #5 and Chanel #3, respectively.
  • Keke Palmer’s Zayday was delightful and her constant desire to be positive and inclusive was lovely.
  • Love him or love to hate him, Glen Powell’s Chad was hilarious. He delivered some of the best lines of the series, my personal favorite being, “I’ll murder you to death.”
  • I’m loathe to shower praise on her, but Emma Roberts did a fantastic job of being a vindictive, soulless gash (her word, not mine) who was constantly screaming in a high pitched tone. My main issue with congratulating this performance is the mere fact that I imagine this is how she is in real life. 
  • The Red Devil’s costume is pretty rad.
  • Musical choices were, mostly, really fantastic.
  • The Exorcist 3 moment that took place in a maze reminiscent of the maze in The Shining was really cool and really beautiful.
  • Chaneloween. That was hilarious. In fact, it would be my very favorite part of the entire season if it weren’t for…
  • The Backstreet Boys moment where one of the Dickie Dollar Scholar’s lost both of his arms to a chainsaw. I watched this scene many times. Everything about it was perfection.
Backstreet's Back!
The Bad:
  • Again, why were they yelling all of the time?
  • I’m sure Skyler Samuels is a lovely girl, but Grace was awful and her hats were even worse.
  • Diego Boneta felt wasted. Either his role could have been bigger or he should have had a completely different one. Also, 5 demerits for that atrocious Matthew McConaughey impression.
  • The episode that looked like it was going to take place in a mall, but didn’t. Wow, way to tease us with an 80’s throwback and then just pull out prematurely.
  • Niecy Nash as Denise Hemphill was the epitome of wasting an actress. Yes, she was funny, but she was also used for a lot of easy, stereotypical, casually racist jokes that weren’t worthy of this Emmy nominated actress. 
  • Oh yeah, the casual racism that ran rampant throughout all 13 episodes wasn’t funny. It smacks of boredom and lazy writing. 
  • As did the incessant, fat shaming of women who are, clearly, not fat. And another thing; the size of a woman is so inconsequential that humor mocking anyone’s size, whether it be small, medium or large, is just plain wrong. 
  • The flash forward utilized in the finale. Nothing screams lazy writing like a flash fucking forward.

In the end, the biggest crime that Scream Queens committed was it’s lack of originality. If you’re an unabashed TV baby, such as myself, odds are high that you are also watching Murphy’s other current jam, AHS Hotel. An inordinate amount of story lines were eerily similar amongst these two shows. Which came first? The chicken or the egg? Or in this case, the Ten Commandment’s Killer of the Red Devil? 

Murphy and Falchuk have a lot of plates up in the air right now, and it’s showing. I find the most telling proof of this to be the fact that the episodes that one, or both of them, write are, more often than not, the best ones and the ones that the fans really embrace. When the episodes are lacking, people are quick to lash out and that has resulted in an unfortunate, repetitive occurrence. Murphy and Falchuk take any chance they are given to mock internet writers and entertainment blogs. There have been numerous digs in AHS and in the Scream Queens finale, Chanel took the opportunity to address, “The so called mainstream media, including weird websites that nobody has heard of who use my name as click bait and to all the relentless, unwashed whores on Twitter who have taken every opportunity to mock and attack me mercilessly from the safety of their stained futons, I offer the following heartfelt sentiment; you can all suck it.”  I tire of their constant complaining about internet criticism because commenting on things is human nature and not all of us are heartless trolls who simply gain glee out of being nasty. Whining about people criticizing you is on par with blatantly pushing your political opinions. It’s not a good look.

Red Devil looks awesome.
Underneath all of the many layers of nastiness, there was a sweetness that was allowed to shine in the final moments of the series. Zayday puts it best when she tells Chanel, “Words really mean something and they can hurt people.” As the Chanel’s bask in the freedom of not trying to be the cutest or meanest on social media and live in a place where they don’t feel the need to be skinny for boys, I think we should all walk away with this golden piece of advice from Hester; “Being nice is a really good quality.” Too bad we had to wade through so much muck to get to it. 

As of the time of writing this, Scream Queens has not yet been renewed for a second season. While it was a hit on Twitter, it’s overall television ratings were mediocre. If it does see another season, Murphy has already said that four or five of the actors from this season will definitely be in it and it will be a completely new setting. Hooray for anthologies.

Were YOU a Scream Queens fan? 
Tell me all about it on Twitter. @lcfremont