For those of you that have been following my Fear The Walking Dead reviews, you all know my hate/hate relationship with that show. After watching the pilot for Scream Queens, which airs on the Fox on Tuesdays at 9 pm, I may prefer FTWD! Bold statement? YEP! This show reminds me of a dreadful mixture of Jawbreaker meets Mean Girls meets Glee. The show opened with a meager 4 million viewers and only a 1.7 rating in the 18-49 demographic. Let’s dig in and see what makes this big steaming pile of dung so appalling.
The show does have some star power especially with the casting of Jamie Lee Curtis as Dean Munch. I have loved JLC since the original Halloween and which male can forget her role in True Lies? Actually, she is the reason I will continue to watch this show; well, that and to make all of you chuckle or angry as I shred it week after painful week.
Other stars include Emma Roberts of American Horror Story as Chanel Oberlin, the queen bee of the Kappa House; think Rose McGowan from Jawbreaker mixed with Rachel McAdams from Mean Girls. Other stars include Skylar Samuels as Grace Gardner who is set to be our hero/final girl, Lea Michelle of Glee fame plays Hester Ulrich aka Neck Brace, Abigail Breslin from a plethora of films, my favorite being Zombieland as Chanel No. 5 and Oliver Hudson as Wes Gardner, Grace’s overprotective father — enjoyed this guy’s role as Adam on Rules of Engagement. The cast is rounded out with some newbies and semi-familiar faces.
The episode opens in a flashback to 1995 in the Kappa house with a sister walking downstairs to a big party with her hands full of blood. She gets two other sisters and brings them to the bathroom where another sister covered in blood is sitting in the tub holding a baby. Yeah, apparently she thought it was the freshman 15 and felt like she just had to drop a deuce. The two sisters were appalled by this and, when a third sister came up to announce “Waterfalls” by TLC was on, they had to go back to the party because apparently that is their “jam.” It certainly was, as we flash back to the party and everyone is singing and performing a synchronized dance to it. It felt like a bad episode of Glee, oh wait all episodes of Glee were horrendous. After their jam ended, they went back upstairs to find the bloody handed friend holding the baby because freshman 15 girl apparently bled out. Who is the baby….flash to 2015 and see if we find out.
Open to present day where we are introduced to Chanel and the Chanels; #2 played by pop star Ariana Grande who should really stick to singing, #3 played by Billie Lourd who I like simply because her only other acting credit will be in Star Wars Episode VII “The Force Awakens” in theaters everywhere December 18th, 2015 (yes that is a shameless plug, I’m a huge Star Wars fan) and #5 played by Abigail Breslin who has quite a few credits from when she was younger like the movie Signs to her most recent film Final Girl. Where is Chanel #4 you ask? Apparently, she couldn’t make the cut.
During the extended introduction, Chanel is established as “the Gru” to her numbered minions; that’s right I threw a Despicable Me reference out there, after all this show is despicable. At this point, we get introduced to the housekeeper Ms. Bean aka White Mammy as Chanel calls her. Her character is played by Jan Hoag, she is the object of many disrespectful tirades by Chanel. As we trudge through a number of “I’m better than everyone” quips by Chanel with the numbers validating her every word, we find out that Dean Munch wants to shut Kappa down because of what they represent. Chanel and Dean Munch have a heated exchange where Chanel makes insinuations that Dean “Box” Munch is a lesbian. Before Dean Munch can throw down the hammer, a former Kappa sister Gigi Caldwell – played by Nasim Pedrad frin Saturday Night Live – shows up. She is now a lawyer and comes up with some jargon to keep the Kappa house afloat; however, they have to accept anyone who pledges. Dean Munch shows up with some stellar candidates including Hester Ulrich (Lea Michelle) who is a dork in a really odd neck/back brace, Tiffany (Whitney Meyer) a deaf Taylor Swift fan and Sam termed the butch lesbian played by Jeanna Han (this girl is pretty funny). Also pledging is our hero/final-girl Grace and her apprehensive roommate Zayday Williams played by Keke Palmer whose most recent credit is in “Masters of Sex.”
Without going into a fantastic amount of detail, Grace and Zayday are infiltrating to just expose how corrupt Kappa is. Chanel sets up a plan with Ms. Bean over a really complicated Starbucks like drink after harassing the barista Pete Martinez played by Diego Boneta who is later comforted by Grace. Anyway, Chanel hatches a plan to pretend to shove Ms. Bean’s head into the deep fryer to scare the girls and establish her dominance.
Throughout the episode thus far we see someone costumed as a red devil sort of lurking in the background. I’ll call him “Reds” for short. There was a flashback to when Chanel was a lowly pledge and the queen bee at the time treated her as Chanel is now treating her minions. Chanel wanted to spray tan the queen bee but she was shunned from the opportunity. After she vacated the room the other girls began to spray the queen. After some time of being sprayed she begins screaming as her flesh starts to peel and burn. Apparently someone put hydrochloric acid in the sprayer. Ok, now the problem I have here is that I have worked in the chemical field for a long time and worked with many acids including HCl and I can tell you there would be no delay for a reaction of that magnitude, when it hits your skin, YOU KNOW! Ok, sorry for nerding out but that stuff irks me.
The Kappa girls and pledges are gathered in the kitchen where Chanel and Ms. Bean begin to argue and Chanel shoves Ms. Beans head into the deep fryer. Surprise, the deep fryer is really on and Ms. Bean pops out screaming, pulling the burning flesh from her face before collapsing dead on the floor. Do I really need to bash this too? Yep! Anyone that has ever been near a deep fryer knows that it bubbles with hot oil and you can feel the heat so either Chanel or the writers are really dumb. Obviously after you get hot oil on a part of your body you peel the skin before anything else, right? Nope! Grace wants to call the authorities but Chanel wants to dispose of the body and says she will blame Grace if she calls the cops because her minions will back her story. The girls comply and they drag a sheeted Ms. Bean into a walk in freezer, after all what sorority house is not equipped with one.
Grace and Pete go to get picture of the body to build the case against Chanel (Pete’s a reporter for the school paper so naturally he’s up for an expose). Meanwhile, Chanel and her man Chad Radwell played by Glenn Powell show up. She wants to show him the body because, for some reason, corpses turn him on. We later get TMI about this obsession when he and Chanel are in bed together. This freaks Chanel out and causes a break up. Now feeling bad about freaking out, Chanel heads to his frat house only to find him in bed being cuddled by his gay roommate Boone played by teen heart-throb Nick Jonas. Boone has a “rager” when he jumps out of bed.
“Reds” begins to make his presence felt by showing up in Chanel #2’s bedroom and has a face-to-face text battle with him where he’s telling her he is going to kill her and she is pleading against it. The kill scene ensues with #2 updating her Facebook status as her last living act. The girls find her, panic ensues and they decide to hire a security guard Denise Hemphill played way over the top by Niecy Nash. Chanel is freaking out thinking that Ms. Bean really wasn’t dead and is now out for revenge.
Chanel is out for the night so the minions have charge of the pledges, deciding to bury them up to their necks in the back lawn overnight – except Grace who is out making time with her new squeeze Pete. The minions leave the pledges and here comes “Reds”on a lawnmower! As the girls scream, Tiffany dives into a Taylor Swift song before getting mutilated by “Reds” and the mower.
A lot more over the top and ho hum moments take place as this 2 hour premiere dredged on, so I will try and nail the high/low lights. Grace and Pete are having a make out session and for some reason she goes in his closet where she finds the same red devil costume being worn by the killer. She freaks out and accuses him of being the baby born in the tub out for revenge and leaves as he stands there with a devious look. Security Denise’s partner gets a knife to the face while Denise is out getting something. When she gets back in the car, we get a moment reminiscent of the Scary Movie franchise. Dean Munch likes sleeping with students. Chanel supposedly gets attacked by “Reds” in her room and fights him off which we only see in a flashback as she recounts the story to the girls. Grace breaks into a locked room that has all the dirty secrets of the Kappa house from the past, she and Chanel have an exchange. While Boone is working out, “Reds” – or someone dressed like “Reds” – pops in and, after the cut scene, we come back to find Boone laid out on a table with candles around him sporting a slit throat. At the end, we follow someone into the morgue. They open a drawer and take the sheet off the body, revealing Boone. Boone opens his eyes and peels off the fake throat slit scar. And, that my friends, is about the extent of this train wreck.
This show could be considered offensive on so many levels with the fun it pokes at sexual orientation, race and physical handicaps. Will I keep watching? Yep! Just so I can continue to deconstruct and shred this over the top piece of trash. This show was written by the guys from Glee: Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuck and Ian Brennan and directed by none other than Ryan Murphy (Hell Week was directed by Falchek). I hold Murphy responsible for ruining American Horror Story. AHS has been on a downward spiral since “Murder House” which is far and away the best season as well as the reason I continue to watch it in hopes of restoring the awesomeness. How could you mess up “Freak Show?” I know how, give it to Ryan Murphy! Scream Queens is way over the top with some funny moments. Can it get better? Yes. Will it? With Murphy at the helm, I seriously doubt it but hope I’m proven wrong.
Scream Queens Pilot / Hell Week (1.5 / 5) on the Thug Meter