Scream Queens: The obliteration of the sorority house subgenre

TV Review – Scream Queens Series Premiere

Scream Queens TV Show

Of all the new series starting this season, Scream Queens is among the ones I’ve been looking forward to the most for some time now. Especially after hearing about Jamie Lee Curtis’ involvement and how she was recreating Psycho’s shower scene for the show. In addition, Ryan Murphy has done some great work in the past in the form of Nip/Tuck and, to a lesser extent, American Horror Story.

The plot  of Scream Queens is a familiar one for anyone who’s ever seen a sorority house slasher before. Twenty years ago a baby is born during a sorority house party and the mother accidently bleeds out in the upstairs bathtub. The sisters decide to cover both the death and the baby.

Flash-forward to present day and Goody Two-shoes Grace (Skyler Samuels) arrives at university determined to honor her death mother – who was a sister back in the day – by joining the KKT Fraternity. There, she encounters sorority queen Chanel Oberlin (Emma Roberts) who rules the house through cruelty and humiliation, making any pledges suffer. Obviously, Queen Bitch Chanel has minions, whose real names she doesn’t know, Chanel #2 (Ariana Grande), Chanel #3 (Billie Lourd), and Chanel #5 (Abigail Breslin).

Goody Two-shoes is resolved to fight Queen Bitch, and for this purpose, she gathers a band of outcasts that also become pledges after Dean Munsch (Jamie Lee Curtis), who is also determined to destroy KKT, mandates that the house must accept anyone who commits to being a sister (popular-or-not).

That’s it. Are you bored yet?

What’s Murphy’s obsession with social systems withing educational institutions anyway? He has already played this card at least twice with Popular and Glee!

The show goes all-in at being funny by satirizing the genre’s conventions, which in principle could have been great, but the idea is ruined through stereotypical characters and their endless antics. Such is the case with Chanel #2’s murder scene (played by Ariana Grande, whom I recently came to respect after watching this video), where the show-runners try to play a joke around society’s obsession with texting and social media but the result comes off as not funny and extremely awkward.

The hook of the entire show is the enigma of who’s the killer behind the red devil mask, but it’s evident Murphy and co-creators Brad Falchuk and Ian Brennan forgot that they have to make us care first. The entire script is written to be a pseudo-slasher parody, which never succeeds at being funny but at the cost of its characters. During the two-hour premiere, not a single character was relatable and their dialogue is a series of random one-liners.


However there’s one good thing here, and that’s Jamie Lee Curtis. She solely succeeds at playing funny and/or creepy throughout these two episodes. Once again, she cements her horror icon status by delivering the most enjoyable scenes. A great example is a conversation in a post-sex scene with a student that she had to blackmail to get in bed, to begin with.

The whole ordeal of watching Scream Queens quickly became an endurance test.

Needless to say, I won’t be back for more episodes. With so many options out there, I don’t see enough reasons to invest more time on this show. In fact, I lost two precious hours of my life on Scream Queens, and the whole ordeal quickly became an endurance test. I urge you to not do the same.

Scream Queens premiered Tuesday, September 22nd on FOX.

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  1. Brian says:

    Scream Queens Series Premiere: The picture of Jamie Lee Curtis is chilling for both the character portrayal in the new series and a reality check for those of us who grew up with fond memories of her earlier roles. What is Christmas without a viewing of the, Oh so young and fresh but clichéd “sex worker” with a heart of gold Jamie Lee, along with Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy in Trading Places or watching a Fish called Wanda when you need a lift. I miss her from both the big and smaller screens.
    I had not been aware of the series till you made this post, so thank you!

    • eduardo says:

      I know Brian, for me when I hear Jamie Lee Curtis it’s either as Laurie being chased my Michael Myers, or her striptease scene in True Lies. Odd how we connect actors to certain moments and characters. Thank you for the input!

  2. Dario Calle says:

    Eduardo, thanks for this movie review, I like your blog it is too professional and the way you talk about the movies is too nice. thank you