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Friday, October 2, 2015

Am I Captivated by the Red Devils? Uh... well #ScreamQueens #3WeekRoundUp #PremiereWeek #FOX

Am I Captivated by the Red Devils? Uh... well #ScreamQueens #3WeekRoundUp #PremiereWeek #FOX

All pictures courtesy of FOX

Oh boy. Scream Queens. Fox’s Scream Queens (#ScreamQueens) is... quite the show. Honestly, I don’t really know where the heck to begin with this. There is so much right and wrong with this show that it’s hard to piece out the difference between either. It both appears as a complete mess at times while also knowing what it is doing. Its brand of satire of the horror genre can sometimes be right on while at other times drifts into a far too over-the-top melodrama that even Liberace or Lady Gaga or Bjork or any other outlandishly dressed musical artist would sit back and go, “whoa! Too much.” But before I begin deconstructing the show, let’s back track a little and breakdown what to expect in this review/recap.

As was stated in a previous post, this will be a three week round up post (the same goes for all new shows). Why? Because I believe in giving a show three episodes to prove itself and decide whether I’ll continue with it or not. Since Scream Queens as well as Heroes Reborn gave us a two-hour season premiere, they have already covered three episodes of the series come the end of this week. I’ll go more into depth on why I have this three week rule in a later post but for now just know that I don’t think most people can adequately judge something in just one episode, as a TV series (or my episodic novella series) is meant to change over time. With that in mind, writing a series off that you were initially interested in after just one episode can be foolish as plenty of things start slow.

Now that that business is out of the way, back to Scream Queens. My initial excitement for this show was based on the fact that this came from the same creator of American Horror Story and Nip/Tuck and that it would be a comedy (for a recap of that click #PremiereWeek to go back to that article). Comedy it is. A little too silly? Definitely.

The story follows a brand new year at a university that still allows for Sororities and Fraternities. The best and most popular sorority on campus is the KKT (because the KKK would have been too obvious? Not likely for this show, but OK). The president of the KKT happens to be a young white girl by the name of Chanel played by Emma Roberts. So self-obsessed and cartoonish in her ego this girl is that she has no time or just lacks the brain cells to remember and call her fellow sisters by their proper names, instead naming them Chanel numbers 2-5 (as if that perfume needed any more free advertising). Far too into the worship culture of Chanel, the only thing missing from these other girls (one of which left before the season began) is the yellow Minion color and strange goggles. I’m surprised they can even speak English rather than having formulated their own language of Kissass-ese or some other gobblety-gook. Two of these girls are recognizable as Ariana Grande and Abigail Breslin (Chanel no. 5 and the first suspect due to her name alone). Ariana’s time as a TV star is short-lived as she tweets about her death in the first episode but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Jamie Lee Curtis as the dean of the college, she concludes that KKT reflects poorly on college culture and the university as a whole. This comes after an accident last year when Chanel was a prime suspect in loading a spray tan machine with acid, which then sprayed down the president of KKT at that time. Now that Chanel has moseyed her way into such a position, the dean makes a decree that any and all people wanting to join KKT must be permitted to do so—this only after a meeting with a past sorority sister serving as the lawyer for that branch who is stuck in the 90s for whatever reason. That’s what’s going on all in episode one to set up the future shenanigans on the actual college side.

As for the would-be sisters, we have Grace—a legacy whose overprotective father actually comes to teach at the college after the murders start. Her mother apparently died a long while ago but her father regaled her with stories about how much the woman loved being a KKT sister and the celebration of womanhood and blah blah blah! Naturally, she wants to follow in her deceased mother’s footsteps. Her initial roommate, played by Keke Palmer (excuse me as some people I know by their character’s name and others just by their real name) is the only black girl to pledge and really doesn’t want to do it save for it looking good on a resume one day as she has lofty aspirations.

Filling out the trifecta of pledges that matter is Lea Michele’s character or neck brace girl named so because... well, it’s obvious. Outside of her over-creepy nerd knowledge about death, she calls Chanel mom in some strange idolatry fetishism that I’m partially convinced the show made up (apparently young girls without female figures in their lives call a girl near the same age that they admire and look up to their mom? What?). There’s a few other pledges—deaf Taylor Swift (she gets her head run over by a lawnmower toward the end of the second episode), other strange nerd girl and Asian lesbian chick but they’re really there just to fill out the cast and to raise the body count before getting rid of characters you really love. They all move into the house just as the murders start.

Surprisingly, the first real murder comes when Chanel dips their house maid’s (since when do sororities have maids? Don’t they make the pledges do all the gruntwork?), White Mamie (yeah, you read that right. And as the most awkward and cringe-laugh-inducing scenes in the opening minutes of the show tell you, she also don’t know nothin’ ‘bout birthin’ no babies) into a deep fryer that was on in the sorority house kitchen (since when does a sorority have a deep fryer? Aren’t the girls always looking out for their weight? I’ve seen those recruitment videos online and not a single girl is over 150, tops). Instead of calling the police, all the girls go along with throwing her body into the freezer from where she subsequently disappears. This, in turn, bonds the girls in secret which also leads to Ariana Grande’s death as she tweets and a hazing situation where all the pledges are buried up to their heads in soil in the backyard and the red devil—the school mascot—runs over the deaf girl’s head on a riding mower. Ka-boom! We got a murder mystery on our hands.

So, outside of the fact that Chanel has a typical douche, jock, frathouse boyfriend with grades so bad he has
to sleep with the dean to stay in school—her choice, though he thinks he’s madly in love with her—the only
other suspect in the first episode is his gay best friend played by Nick Jonas. Yes, that Nick Jonas... from the Jonas Brothers and now with his own solo career. In a completely expected twist akin to Scream, it’s revealed at the end of the second episode that not only did Nick fake his death in his own frat but that he is most certainly one of the two killers stalking the campus. Yes, two killers because murder is only fun if you have a partner. It’s like Scattergory or sex. Side note: I predict with the ridiculousness of this show that there will end up actually being three to five killers.

Because the murder happened solely on KKT property the dean declares that they need to have extra protection, ending them up with Niecy Nash as the security guard in her Reno 9-1-1 callback days. She is hilarious for what she brings and as the Deputy Dewey of the show she gets an old friend killed and manages to accuse the only other black character of being the murderer as only good cops would do, right? Right (Eyeroll, sigh, double sigh!)?

To top it all off there’s a secondary mystery about the death of a sorority sister from twenty years earlier who died during a house party in which she gave birth in an upstairs bathroom and supposedly bled to death. Though her sisters knew of this birth, she died anyway because they had to go dance to TLC’s Waterfalls, which, to be fair that was also my Jimmy-jam back in the day. Hey, sometimes we all need to just listen to the rivers and the lakes like we used to. Not to move to fast away from this second mystery, the girls, along with the help of White Mamie (damn, she was working for them way back then too?) and the dean (not the dean at the time) covered it up somehow and made the young girl disappear. The mystery remains.

Coffee Shop Creeper/Reporter

Because of this continuing question mark, Grace and her new non-boyfriend boyfriend who stalked Chanel the previous year (they probably had a thing before she became uber-popular) is investigating this along with the murders as he considers himself a future journalist/current school newspaper editor... and part-time mascot. Whaaaaaa..! That’s right, he has a red devils costume, but is he the killer?

In my estimation, no. In fact, along with Nick Jonas, I think the person most likely to be the killer is Grace’s overprotective father, played by Oliver Hudson who had a steady gig on Nashville last year and a little father drama of his own over the summer. Why? Because I think either the dead girl from 20 years ago or the second girl who took the dead girl’s baby has something to do with him: Grace’s mother (making the baby grace), a good friend of his, or maybe his sister, etc. I also think Nick Jonas’ character is somehow related to Grace (maybe older brother) and is doing the killings for the hell of it/father-son bonding. Crazy, but right up this show’s alley.

So, my diagnosis of this show? Meh! I rate it around a C or C+ at the moment. While it hits its mark on many things including the actual mystery, well-defined characters and plenty of blood-lust, I think the exaggerated slapstick-ish humor of the show can wear on the viewer over the season. Even for an audience much younger than, say, the AHS crowd, this seems like it could get old fast (probably why this is only a short run 13-episode season). Emma is great at playing the “B” as she has been for the past few years (I’d like to see her stretch and play a nice girl again even in just one thing), Niecy Nash is Niecy Nash,
Keke Palmer has a little too much sister-girl going on (a hyper-attitude that some young girls give off reminiscent of the movie BAPS and falls into the stereotypical black sidekick role), Abigail Breslin and the others haven’t had their proper time to shine yet (it’s only the third episode) and Jamie Lee Curtis feels partially wasted here. Honestly, I would have preferred she do a role on AHS first, maybe fill in the vacancy left by Jessica Lange as the horror godmother of sorts, but I understand how she seems to only want to do comedy nowadays. Will I keep watching? Probably, but this might be a DVR spacer—a show I leave on the DVR for a really long time until I get enough free time to binge nearly the entire season and then be done with it. Should you watch if you haven’t been doing so already? Not if you want real horror or don’t find teenage and young adult drama/comedy funny. If, however, you enjoy things similar to Evil Dead 2 and Dale and Tucker vs. Evil, and can stand a lot of humor in your horror. This is right up your alley.

What do you think? Am I being too harsh on this show? Is it only average or do you drop everything to watch it because it’s your jam, jelly, and secret sauce? Or are you patiently waiting for American Horror Story to come back October 7th? And what about the mystery for those that do enjoy it? Who do you think the killers are? Let me know what you think in the comments below. Scream Queens airs Tuesdays at 9pm eastern only on FOX.

As always, check out my books on Amazon (if you’re looking for Halloween scares check #AFuriousWind#DARKER#BrandNewHome or #ThePowerOfTen). For those interested in something a little more dramatic, check out #TheWriter. The final episode of season one of The Writer is OUT NOW. Ahh! That’s right, all 15 episodes are out now available exclusively on Amazon. And coming in just one week, check for my new comedy book “Yep, I’m Totally Stalking My Ex-Boyfriend” (#AhStalking). Join us on Goodreads to talk about books and TV, and subscribe to my blog.

Until next time, “This is not a cheerocracy. This is a cheer-tatorship.”

P.S. Look, if this show doesn’t remind you of Bring It On at least a little, then I don’t even know who you are. I probably don’t know you anyway, but you know... whatever. I'll keep thinking of something else as a sign-off.