The premise of Scream Queens brought about an incontrovertible sense of excitement. Being produced by Ryan Murphy, or more commonly known as the guy who created Glee and American Horror Story (AHS), Scream Queens was viewed as Murphy’s masterful brainchild: driving at an eclectic mix of horror and comedy, or simply explained as combining the best parts of Glee and AHS. Moreover, Scream Queens boasted an all-star ensemble, which included musical superstars such as Ariana Grande and Nick Jonas; prominent actresses like Emma Roberts and Lea Michele (also of Glee fame); and even the legendary scream queen herself, Jamie Lee Curtis.
Quite unfortunately, however, none had the effect of salvaging what I would quite confidently call a mess of a show. And Emma Roberts had the perfect expression mirroring the grimace I wore while watching this entire misguided chutzpah.
Granted, Scream Queens definitely had moments of hilarious dialogue. Lea Michele (Hester; a.k.a. Chanel #6) played her role as a psychotic weirdo uncannily well; Emma Roberts (Chanel Oberlin) manifested herself as quite possibly the brattiest diva one could find in the entire universe and Niecy Nash (Denise Hemphill) gave us uncontrollable fits of laughter with her acute portrayal of a clueless security-guard-turned-house-mother-of-the-Kappas-turned-chief-of-police-force which only gave the Kappas more reasons to worry for their personal safety.
However, the main problem with Scream Queens was a lack of clear direction. Ultimately, Scream Queens wanted to create a niche in the world of television, being a light-hearted and satirical show (Oh Murphy, that Taylor Swift shade on Chaneloween). Yet, simultaneously, it wanted to provide that element of fear and mystery to keep viewers eager to find out the identity of the masked Red Devil, who murders off the poor Kappas one after the other. However, Murphy’s attempts at gelling both aspects of the show harmoniously is an absolute disaster.
Horror, which I believe comprises of the need to scare the living daylights out of you, loses its coveted effect when juxtaposed with humour. To put it more aptly, Scream Queens attempted to be a mix of both, lacked the right balance of both, and emerged a farce that was quite hard to swallow. For example, the murder of Chanel #2 (Ariana Grande) by the Red Devil through a series of whimsical texts (yes, texts) which culminated in a stab felt like an endless journey to nowhere. As a viewer, I was left puzzled over whether I ought to be laughing at that half-hearted killing scene, or to be wincing in horror at how “gory” it was.
Moreover the characters lacked depth and sophistication. Unlike movies which pan out over a 2-hour time slot on screens, television series bring viewers across weeks and months of adventure. In that sense, they get that much more freedom to shape more complex characters, at the expense of better graphics. Through this process, we get to empathise with the characters and watch how their experiences shape them into becoming the characters they are, an aspect which I have always loved about television series. Yet, Scream Queens proved contrary to this irrefutable formula for success. It lacked a sense of development; therefore, creating characters with as much complexity as that of a tic-tac-toe game.
With the ridiculous amount of killings that went on, Chanel remained as detestable as ever, being the same old spoilt brat that she was since the first episode. Arguably, Murphy did do some great work with her in the Thanksgiving episode where she stood up for Chanel #6 and blasted the Radwells in true diva style, and strutting off like a proud peacock on the runway, showing that beneath her utterly diva exterior, she is, still a relatable human being who values her band of sisters. However, all came to naught like a Jenga tower crashing into an apocalyptic heap when Chanel reverted back to her old self by the end of the episode, starting her repetitive warpath of terror around Kappa yet again.
However, the general problems of the show faded in magnitude when compared to the utterly contrived ending which resolved the entire series. Firstly, we were promised that there would be massive and shocking killings which will occur in each episode. We were even promised that there would only be four survivors left at the end of the series, an ambitious promise which the producers, unfortunately, failed to deliver upon. Essentially, they took to murder side characters who added no value to the plot whatsoever (note Predatory Lez, Deaf Taylor Swift, Earl Grey, *insert names of random characters who we probably forgot along the way*), leaving nearly all the main characters intact and well alive.
Furthermore, the unmasking of the Red Devil and resolution of conflict was utterly ludicrous and unbelievable. Essentially, the Red Devil got away with killing nearly the entire campus, managed to successfully frame it upon the Chanels and escaped scot-free, living life happily ever after. Now, I’m not some morally-sanctimonious Judge Judy who demands for justice to be meted out to all antagonists, but at the very least, there could be an element of realism that the writers could have injected (say someone took the blame for the Red Devil), as opposed to allowing the Red Devil to plant laughable false evidence and dispel all naysayers in a matter of 5 minutes. More thought and planning could definitely have been done to avoid this all-so disappointing finale, best reflected by Chanel’s disapproving face as pictured below.
Considering how heavily Ariana Grande was promoted to popularise Scream Queens, I for one definitely expected her to have a more pivotal role in the show. Moreover, she epitomised and played her role as Chanel #2 with such striking conviction, perfect ponytail and all. Yet, she was unfashionably killed in the very first episode, in the lacklustre way mentioned above. Honestly, I thought with the satirical nature of the show, Murphy would make her perish from licking a poisonous donut or something. Given how A-list of a cast member she was for the show, I guess her short stunt on the show was not an
inexpensive unexpected one. Still, I wished that she would have gotten more screen time; after all, she makes for one heck of a perfect Chanel with her pitch-perfect voice imitations and diva-like poses.
Overall, Scream Queens was/is a bland and distasteful show which, literally, made me want to scream in agony, likened to a queen that was being dethroned. The utterly inconsequential scares, poor plot development, and non-existent characterisation certainly did not do justice to the talented cast who tried to breathe life to a series which, quite simply put, could not be saved. Sorry Mr. Murphy, but this is not one of your best works and it definitely pales in comparison to Glee and American Horror Story.
DANamic.ORG Rating: 2/5 Screams