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‘Scream Queens’ an Amusing Mix of Genres, Generations
9/16/2015 4:10:45 PM

Keke Palmer

Niecy Nash
By Damion Smalls

This fall, viewers will get comedy dipped in their horror as the new Fox show ‘Scream Queens’ is added to their exceedingly diversified network schedule.

Starring Emma Roberts (‘We’re The Millers’), Jamie Lee Curtis (‘Halloween’), Skyler Samuels (‘The DUFF’), Keke Palmer (‘Akeelah and the Bee’), Niecy Nash (‘Reno 911!’), Lea Michele (‘Glee’), Abigail Breslin (‘Zombieland’), Nasim Pedrad (‘Saturday Night Live’) and pop stars Ariana Grande and Nick Jonas, the series provides lively satire of the college Greek system, buoyed by a charismatic ensemble cast.

Ryan Murphy, Hollywood cult favorite creator of ‘Nip/Tuck’ and ‘American Horror Story’, brings audiences a clash of genres that has had varying degrees of success as of late.

Following in the footsteps on ‘Cabin in the Woods’, ‘Evil Dead’ and the ‘Scream’ franchise, ‘Scream Queens’ features characters that are seemingly aware of their surroundings and the tropes that define it.

At the same time, they still do not know as much as they think they do, much to their peril (or delight, depending on the character).

The series starts off with the mysterious death of a member of the Kappa Kappa Tau sorority at Wallace University, accentuated by signature TLC tune ‘Waterfalls’ just in case viewers were not aware it occurred in 1995. The story jumps to twenty years later during pledging season (Hell Week) in which Chanel (Roberts), the head of the Kappas, is dealing with more deaths on the campus. Chalking the recent tragedies up as mere coincidences, Chanel is more concerned with her image and legacy of her sorority.

The Dean of Wallace, Cathy Munsch (Curtis) has a vendetta with the Greeks on campus for their elitism and resistance to inclusion. Remedying the problem, Munsch forces the Kappas to open spots to their group to all students. Gigi (Pedrad), a Kappa alumnus, serves as the lawyer that protects the group from the venom of the Dean’s prejudice.
Grace (Samuels), Zayday (Palmer) and Hester (Michele) are among the ladies who use the unlikely opportunity to pledge Kappa and undergo initiations, which amounts to gratuitously petty hazing from Chanel. The rails begin to fall off at this point for all parties involved.

Zayday is from Oakland, CA. Palmer’s character is that of an astute, stylish, and outspoken overachiever who looks to add to her accomplishments by becoming Kappa president. From the outset, she is the voice of reason and stands up for her friends during their Hell Week.

Chanel is the ultimate mean girl, ferocious against anyone who challenges her authority and status on campus. Flanked by cronies like Chanel #2 (Grande) and Chanel #5 (Breslin), the Kappa chief has the entire Wallace campus shook with her power. When the violence escalates due to the actions of a miscreant in a Red Devil costume (the school’s mascot), everyone becomes a suspect and motives are unveiled as the Kappa house seems to be targeted by this threat.

Addressing the safety issues, security guard Denise (Nash) is called up to patrol the Kappa premises. Denise’s competence harkens back to Nash’s most notable role as Deputy Raineesha Williams of the Comedy Central ‘Cops’ parody ‘Reno 911!’. Nash deftly sways into the position of power and steals the scene whenever she appears.

The vibe of ‘Scream Queens’ owes its origins to the classic B-horror films of the 1980’s like ‘April Fool’s Day’ and ‘Night of the Demons’. Boasting cliques, bawdy dialogue, biting critiques of today’s young adults, political incorrectness, and more blood than a slaughter house, the show is essentially a love letter the decade in which horror movies reigned supreme.

The mix of musicians, industry icons, up-and-coming actresses, and women of color are stirred up to produce an entertaining fusion of laughs and scares. The over-the-top performances by the cast will shock some, but the ‘who-done-it’ storyline gets a well-needed update with flair and dark humor to spice it up.

The ‘Scream Queens’ two hour premiere airs on Fox Tuesday, September 22 at 8:00 PM ET/PT. Get your Halloween fix in early this year.

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