Tuesday, September 20, 2016

TV on DVD Review: Scream Queens - Season 1

Stars: 3 out of 5
Pros: Emma Roberts, Jamie Lee Curtis, fun mix of black comedy and slasher
Cons: Raunchy sex jokes went too far for me.
The Bottom Line:
Black comedy show
Red devil, sorority
Results a mixed bag

“We Can Make it Fun.  Like a Friends Episode, but Somebody’s Trying to Murder All the Friends.”

It seems there were two reactions to last season’s show Scream Queens – people either loved it or hated it.  Of course, there were exceptions to that rule, and I was one of them.  One minute, I’d be fully on board and enjoying the show, and the next I’d be turned off by what I was seeing in season one.

The show is black comedy/spoof of the slasher genre.  The season is set at the Kappa sorority at Wallace University.  20 years ago, a young girl died there after giving birth during a party.  The baby was spirited away, and no one knows what happened to it.

Of course, this makes the perfect motive for a masked killer.  This time, the killer dresses up as a red devil and goes after the member of the sorority and a related fraternity and anyone else who gets in the way.  In the present day, the sorority is ruled by Chanel Oberlin (Emma Roberts) and her henchwomen, Chanel’s 1-5.  Dean Munsch (Jamie Lee Curtis) hates the Greek system, but the Kappas in particular, so she dictates that they must accept all pledges this year, which is why they have to accept such people as Zayday (Keke Palmer), Hester (Lea Michele), and Grace (Skyler Samuels).  But as the carnage continues, will anyone survive?  Who is the killer?  And will all this murder upset Chanel too much?

Before the show even premiered, we were promised that, being a slasher series, there would be at least one death in each episode.  And they were very consistent with that over the course of the 13 episodes.  Naturally, some episodes included more than one death, but each episode had at least one.  However, there were times that the episode’s death was a guest star or even a walk on.  That lessened the impact and felt like a cheat in some ways.

As I said, the show was a black comedy.  At times, it was also social satire.  Some of Chanel’s lines and actions are hysterical.  Everybody gets their laughs, but I found her to be the funniest.  Dean Munch was a pretty close second.  Ironically, I didn’t find Niecy Nash, who played a security guard, as funny as the rest.

This show is the brain child of Ryan Murphy, the man behind Glee and American Horror Story.  I haven’t watched either of those shows, but I knew enough to know that there would be plenty of sex jokes.  Honestly, those were the moments that really made me uncomfortable.  I’m surprised they got the jokes by the standards boards.  They were crude and unfunny.

How did the show do as a slasher?  Being a TV show, they didn’t have time for the elaborate stalk scenes each week, but they got a few good ones in over the course of the season.  As I said, often the death of the episode was pretty inconsequential, but they had some clever kills before the season was over.

Which brings us to the mystery aspect.  I was completely shocked when we got to the end and found out who was behind everything.  The twists in this part were enough to keep me coming back week after week.

Based on the characters I loved, I’m sure you won’t be surprised to learn that I thought Emma Roberts and Jamie Lee Curtis were great in the show.  Honestly, I looked forward to their scenes each week because they sparkled.  Not that the rest of the cast was bad, but these two stood out.  Considering how the cast had to switch from horror to comedy and back, I thought they were all fine, in fact.

However, the content is enough to keep me from coming back to watch more of Scream Queens.  I enjoyed parts of season one of the show, but the parts that made me squirm are enough to keep me from finding out what happens to the survivors next.

Season 1 Episodes:
1. Pilot
2. Hell Week
3. Chainsaw
4. Haunted House
5. Pumpkin Patch
6. Seven Minutes in Hell
7. Beware of Young Girls
8. Mommie Dearest
9. Ghost Stories
10. Thanksgiving
11. Black Friday
12. Dorkus
13. The Final Girl(s)


  1. I think I'm in that 3/5 star minority too. I didn't love it, but I put it in my Hulu queue because it didn't totally suck. And I'd say that the sex jokes are probably what kept it from being, for me, a really good show. They were really not funny.

    1. Thank you. I feel so much better knowing I'm not the only one who felt this way about the show. It's a shame since there was a lot to enjoy about it.

  2. Thanks for your review. I kept seeing this advertised and never got round to watching it. I'll give it a go for Jamie Lee Curtis and the twist at the end (i love a good twist). I will approach with adjusted expectations though. I loved the first Scream film, and it doesn't sound like it will be as enjoyable as that.