Ryan Murphy’s latest small screen endeavor Scream Queens begins its first season with a series of murders at a sorority house.
There’s a murderer on the loose in Kappa Kappa Tau but there’s no shortage of suspects for the rising body count. In the frame? Sorority-hating Dean Cathy Munsch, played by veteran comedy actor Jamie Lee Curtis, who orders the house to accept anybody who wants to join, even “fatties and ethnics”; much to the popular girls’ chagrin. Pledge and possible mole Grace Gardner, Skyler Samuels’ character, is also in the fold, especially when you consider her mother was the first to die at the house two decades earlier. Or could it be house president Chanel Oberlin, played by American Horror Story alum Emma Roberts, whose predecessor died following a tragic and still-unexplained spray-tan accident?
Murphy is known for his fondness of highlighting teenage issues and relationships within his shows – Scream Queens is no different. When you consider the fact that this is the man behind 1999’s Popular and the infamous Nip/Tuck, known for its graphic portrayals of plastic surgery, one wonders if Murphy is running out of ideas. It was Glee – another high school-based dramedy – that made Murphy a household name and his strong run continues with American Horror Story – a show which features much of the same gore as Scream Queens.
Unlike American Horror Story, however, the director has taken on the challenge of combining humor with horror, but doesn’t succeed in either area. An intriguing plot makes up for the often clunky, obvious props, including ketchup packet blood and plastic knives.The acting can’t be faulted, as you would expect from such an experienced cast, with Roberts standing out as the alpha female. The thing that cripples the show is Murphy’s over-reliance on pop-culture references – not to mention the fact that you could swap a lot of the characters with any of the girls featured in Glee. For those who can’t stomach the blood ‘n’ guts, it’s worth tuning in for the celebrity cameos, albeit brief ones, from the likes of Ariana Grande and Nick Jonas.
Fox’s tongue-in-cheek horror parody airs on E4 this autumn.