SCREAM QUEENS Premiere Debriefing: “What fresh hell is this?”

SCREAM QUEENS:  Cast Pictured L-R: Lucien Laviscount, Glen Powell, Nasim Pedrad, Nick Jonas, Billie Lourd, Ariana Grande, Abigail Breslin, Emma Roberts, Jamie Lee Curtis, Skyler Samuels, Diego Boneta, Keke Palmer, Oliver Hudson, Lea Michele and Niecy Nash in SCREAM QUEENS which debuts with a special, two-hour series premiere event on Tuesday, September 22 (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2015 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Matthias Clamer/FOX.

Team Note: Hey everyone! Please welcome our newest writer, Marla, to the fold! We’re so excited to have her onboard, and we can’t wait for you all to watch Scream Queens with her! 

Despite the promotional campaign that has spanned months, if not longer, I actually (for once) did not do any really extensive detective work into Scream Queens.  I initially heard the names “Ryan Murphy” and “Jamie Lee Curtis,” and I was honestly 100% sold already.  I fancy myself a fan of the horror movie genre, and throwing Jamie Lee Curtis back into that world both fascinated and exhilarated me.  Even if I didn’t know much about her character, I didn’t want or need to know any more than the fact that she was a part of it.

The double-episode Scream Queens premiere was almost exactly what I expected from a Ryan Murphy broadcast network show in terms of style, story and satire.  But it also packed some definite surprise and some of the most shockingly quotable lines I’ve heard in a television show in some time.  It wasn’t perfection, but definitely kept my interest through the entire two hours.  All in all, I’m intrigued to see where Murphy takes us in the weeks to come.

I couldn’t possibly go through this moment by moment, there were too many characters and too much show to cover.  Hopefully I can get into much more detail (in far less length) next week!

Semi-Mysterious Backstory:

We immediately opened with a flashback to a 1995 sorority soirée in what would serve as the main backdrop of the Scream Queens saga.  The first visual we got was a pair of bloody hands.  “You have to come, something really bad happened.”  Well, it’s not quite what one would have initially assumed.  In true “Chanel” fashion, I didn’t bother to learn any of 1995 girls’ names.  Did they have names?  “Blue Dress,” as she will henceforth be known, informed her “sisters” that the blood on her hands was not her own.  Something sinister had clearly occurred.  She led her sisters to a bathroom, where I expected to see a corpse.  But instead there were two very living breathing beings in the bathtub.  Apparently I had stumbled upon an episode of I Didn’t Know I was Pregnant, as “Bathtub Pledge” has just given birth.  “I just thought it was the freshman 15.”  The girls bicker about how to stealthily get her out the front door: “No one wants to see that at a party!”

The situation escalates as TLC’s “Waterfalls” is about to be played at the party, and “Cranky Sister” is NOT going to miss her “jam” for this mess.  As unlikeable as these 90s girls are, they have excellent taste in music.  Perhaps the girls shouldn’t have left though, because upon their return, “Bathtub Pledge” is dead.  “What’s wrong with her, she looks awful!”  Blue Dress and the other girls are stunned silent for the first time in this opening — and now we have our obligatory horror-movie backstory!

The Chanels:

Flashing forward 20 years, we are introduced to “The Chanels,” of course led by Emma Roberts, who frequently plays these sort of arrogant, bitchy and unlikable characters– though always impeccably dressed. Seriously, can I have her sunglasses collection from the pilot?  We learn from Roberts’ Chanel (no. 1) that “life is a class system.” And that’s precisely how she treats everyone, except perhaps her equally-unlikable boyfriend, Chad (Glen Powell).  I did quite enjoy her many nicknames (Pissy Spacek).  And next to the Dean, she was certainly the most quotable.

SCREAM QUEENS: Emma Roberts as Chanel Oberlin in "Pilot," the first part of the special, two-hour series premiere of SCREAM QUEENS airing Tuesday, Sept. 22 (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2015 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Steve Dietl/FOX.

SCREAM QUEENS: Emma Roberts as Chanel Oberlin in “Pilot,” the first part of the special, two-hour series premiere of SCREAM QUEENS airing Tuesday, Sept. 22 (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2015 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Steve Dietl/FOX.

Though I initially believed my favorite Chanel would have been Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine is a classic, guys), I actually found myself really enjoying Chanel No. 3 (Billie Lourd).  She brilliantly deadpanned some very entertaining lines.  Maybe it’s the fact that her mother (Carrie Fisher) is one of the most hilarious actresses (in my opinion), and her Hollywood lineage is as close as it gets to royal.  Come on, her grandma is DEBBIE REYNOLDS.  Anyway, she also may have convinced me to pick up a couple pairs of fuzzy earmuffs to add to my wardrobe.  I do believe No. 3 and No. 5 will be a fun duo (should they survive).

SCREAM QUEENS: Pictured L-R: Billie Lourd as Chanel #3, Emma Roberts as Chanel Oberlin and Abigail Breslin as Chanel #5 in "Pilot," the first part of the special, two-hour series premiere of SCREAM QUEENS airing Tuesday, Sept. 22 (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2015 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Steve Dietl/FOX.

SCREAM QUEENS: Pictured L-R: Billie Lourd as Chanel #3, Emma Roberts as Chanel Oberlin and Abigail Breslin as Chanel #5 in “Pilot,” the first part of the special, two-hour series premiere of SCREAM QUEENS airing Tuesday, Sept. 22 (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2015 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Steve Dietl/FOX.

The Dean:

Jamie Lee Curtis enters the Scream Queens universe as seemingly stereotypical Dean of Students, Cathy Munsch.  I say “stereotypical” due to the fact that she appears to mimic the nature of most deans featured in college “sorority” stories – one who detests Greek organizations, and wants nothing more than to see them crumble.  “I’m going to be honest: I hate sororities and I hate you.”  She’s made it her mission to take down Chanel and the Kappas.

SCREAM QUEENS: Jamie Lee Curtis as Dean Cathy Munsch in "Pilot," the first part of the special, two-hour series premiere of SCREAM QUEENS airing Tuesday, Sept. 22 (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2015 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Steve Dietl/FOX.

SCREAM QUEENS: Jamie Lee Curtis as Dean Cathy Munsch in “Pilot,” the first part of the special, two-hour series premiere of SCREAM QUEENS airing Tuesday, Sept. 22 (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2015 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Steve Dietl/FOX.

Through Dean Munsch, we learn that Chanel’s Kappa “Queen” predecessor was suspiciously killed by an “acid” spray tan.  The Dean believes Chanel was behind the attack, though we see that it is in fact our first actual glimpse of the Red Devil.  While she is unable to revoke Kappa’s charter according to Kappa’s 90s-clad mediocre legal representation, Gigi (Nasim Pedrad), she CAN punish them in the worst way possible — by forcing them to take ANY pledge who wants to join the Kappas.  “The doors are open to the public.” What a nightmare.

The Dean is almost tickled with glee (not that Glee), as she helps Chanel and the Kappas welcome this ragtag bunch of new pledges.  She even goes out of her way to find loner and “candle blogger” Jennifer (Breezy Eslin) to add to the pledge class.

I must admit, Jamie Lee Curtis probably could have played any character on this show, and I would have rooted for her.  That said, Curtis was certainly not your run-of-the-mill authority figure. Some of her unique proclivities? Sleeping with students on academic probation, flirting with Grace’s dad to try to keep him from drawing attention to the campus murders, and drinking scotch at 10 a.m.  I’m really excited for whatever happens next with her character.  I’m a bit biased, but it’s Jamie Lee Curtis!

Perhaps my favorite of her lines came during her bedroom dialog about the depressing turn her life had taken.  She tells the blackmailed student that he was “awful” in bed.  After the young man declares that he is in love with Dean Munsch, she replies, “Of course you are. Because that’s the only way this situation could get more depressing.”  Then she kicks him out and I love her that much more.  She adds, “I’m gonna barf on your face unless you get out of here.”  Actual favorite line.  Actual favorite character.

The “Good” Guys:

At this stage, it’s hard to tell who is “good.”  Remember Emma Roberts in Scream 4?  I probably could have attempted a better reference.  But this seemed pertinent.  I can’t really address every character in detail or I would be here all day.  But perhaps if they survive the premiere, I can delve further into some of the many fun supporting characters.

Meeting Grace, (Skyler Samuels, who I vaguely recognize from American Horror Story, among other things) the supposed protagonist of this story, was not the most exciting part of the premiere,  for me at least.  However, we did learn some of her backstory, which I can only assume will come back much more prominently later on.  Her late mother was a Kappa, so she of course wants to be a Kappa.  Even though she is definitely NOT like the present-day Kappas.  Sounds like a dozen other premises. She wasn’t my favorite character in these first episodes, but I understand her necessity.  You always have to have a “nice” noble hero.  Like Chanel, I find the “flowery peace on earth crap” a bit dull.  That said, she had her moments.

SCREAM QUEENS: Skyler Samuels as Grace in "Pilot," the first part of the special, two-hour series premiere of SCREAM QUEENS airing Tuesday, Sept. 22 (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2015 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Steve Dietl/FOX.

SCREAM QUEENS: Skyler Samuels as Grace in “Pilot,” the first part of the special, two-hour series premiere of SCREAM QUEENS airing Tuesday, Sept. 22 (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2015 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Steve Dietl/FOX.

Keke Palmer’s Zayday was one of my favorite characters introduced so far.  She wants to be President one day, and based on this episode, she has my vote.  I’m not entirely certain how Grace’s weak reasoning convinced Zayday to join her in rushing Kappa.  But I’m extraordinarily glad she’s there.  Her eye-rolls are on point. Hopefully she stays (alive) for a while.

I didn’t bother to learn Barista Dude’s name throughout the episode.  I just now looked it up– Pete (Diego Boneta).  He was also someone to which I wasn’t terribly connected.  He apparently used to be obsessed with Chanel (motive motive motive),  so much so that she took out a restraining order on him.  And he seems to sort of dig Grace in the present.  Yawn.  But maybe that will get a bit more interesting since his possession of the Red Devil suit makes him a suspect.  Though in my opinion, it actually takes his name OFF the suspect list–  too obvious.  That said, he thinks of himself as an “investigative reporter,” and wants to work with Grace to expose the Kappas and the dangers of that house.  I’ll wait to see where this goes.  But for the time being, he seems to have scared Grace away with the Red Devil getup.

SCREAM QUEENS: Pictured L-R: Diego Boneta as Pete and Emma Roberts as Chanel Oberlin in "Pilot," the first part of the special, two-hour series premiere of SCREAM QUEENS airing Tuesday, Sept. 22 (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2015 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Steve Dietl/FOX.

SCREAM QUEENS: Pictured L-R: Diego Boneta as Pete and Emma Roberts as Chanel Oberlin in “Pilot,” the first part of the special, two-hour series premiere of SCREAM QUEENS airing Tuesday, Sept. 22 (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2015 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Steve Dietl/FOX.

Lea Michele’s Hester also wasn’t a huge thrill to me.  Probably because she wasn’t that notably featured in these first episodes.  (Perhaps that will change in the weeks to come).  Though I did enjoy her seemingly vast knowledge of the best ways to dispose of dead bodies.  I was a bit less stunned by her graphic description of body disposal methods than the Chanels, but perhaps it’s because I watch a few too many crime shows.

I suspect that anyone who survives each episode, we will end up learning about in greater depth.

SCREAM QUEENS:  Pictured L-R: Skyler Samuels as Grace, Lea Michele as Hester and Keke Palmer as Zayday in "Pilot," the first part of the special, two-hour series premiere of SCREAM QUEENS airing Tuesday, Sept. 22 (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2015 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Steve Dietl/FOX.

SCREAM QUEENS: Pictured L-R: Skyler Samuels as Grace, Lea Michele as Hester and Keke Palmer as Zayday in “Pilot,” the first part of the special, two-hour series premiere of SCREAM QUEENS airing Tuesday, Sept. 22 (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2015 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Steve Dietl/FOX.

Chad and Boone:

The fact that we first meet Chad at the golf course dressed like an extra in The Legend of Bagger Vance (which definitely took place in the 1930s) tells me all I need to know about him.  But if for some reason I was confused, his spiel about not being able to be with someone “unpopular” really solidified his asshole persona.  Why Chanel would even fake-cry over this guy is beyond me.  I mean, he even says to her, “I do sorta love you. I would just love you a lot more if other people loved you too.”

In my opinion he was absolutely the most unlikable character on the show,  beating both the Red Devil serial killer and any of the Chanels.  There were a few minutes there when I did start to “ship” him and best friend Boone (Nick Jonas).  After all, Boone called him “an amazing person,” and they also had a sweet cuddling scene.  (With the reveal at the end, maybe that’s not such a grand idea, after all. Actually, due to my distaste for Chad, maybe it is!)  The more the episode progressed, the more Chad seemed like the male version (but even worse) of Chanel.

SCREAM QUEENS: Pictured L-R: Guest star Nick Jonas as Boone, Emma Roberts as Chanel Oberlin and Glen Powell as Chad in "Pilot," the first part of the special, two-hour series premiere of SCREAM QUEENS airing Tuesday, Sept. 22 (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2015 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Steve Dietl/FOX.

SCREAM QUEENS: Pictured L-R: Guest star Nick Jonas as Boone, Emma Roberts as Chanel Oberlin and Glen Powell as Chad in “Pilot,” the first part of the special, two-hour series premiere of SCREAM QUEENS airing Tuesday, Sept. 22 (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2015 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Steve Dietl/FOX.

Red Devil:

Not much to say about the show’s mysterious villain quite yet.  Who is it? (I’ll avoid the use of gender pronouns since I decided it’s too forward to presume this is a male). He/She is somewhat reminiscent of “Rubber Man” from American Horror Story’s Murder House.  And Ryan Murphy has tweeted that we definitely met this person during the premiere.  I presume it must be someone unexpected.  Trust no one!

Denise:

Niecy Nash’s Denise was also among my favorites.  She didn’t surface until the second half of the premiere.  But her instructions to call 1-866 numbers if the girls were in danger was great.  Also, she delivered perhaps the best line about how absolutely idiotic people in horror movies ALWAYS are.  “You just said that you think the killer is up there, and that’s where you want to go?”  YES.  Thank you.  Why do they, without fail, always run towards the killer?  “You dumb girls are so stupid.”  More Niecy please!

RIP:

Ms. Bean:

Poor Ms. Bean.  We hardly knew ye.  I actually thought she was going to make it.  She was definitely one of my favorite short-lived characters.  Chanel convinced Ms. Bean to conspire with her to rid the Kappas of these “charity pledges”: “Think of all the toilets you’ll have to clean.”

Chanel tells Ms. Bean that they will stage a scenario during which Chanel will appear to dunk her head in a deep fryer.  The machine will be turned off, so it will absolutely not cause her any harm.  Just a scene to scare away any undesirable pledges.  It was almost too obvious (especially after the acid spray tan flashback) that Ms. Bean would not survive this stunt.  Because obviously the Red Devil has turned on the deep fryer.  “Oh my God who turned the fryer on?!”  Of course the fryer was on, and of course her face burnt off.  Ms. Bean, you were a treasure.  I hope we see you in some more flashbacks this season.

Chanel bribes and/or threatens Grace and the rest of the sisters to keep the secret of Ms. Bean’s unfortunate demise with boyfriends, a trip to Cancun and a bit of blackmail.  And now the newest Kappas are part of the time-honored tradition of sorority secrecy.  But where did her body go?  As Pete, Grace, Chanel and Chad discovered, the body of Ms. Bean mysteriously disappeared from the meat locker storage room,  never to be discovered again (at least not in the first two episodes).  Is she really dead?  Her final “nothing happens in this house without me knowing about it” line in the ’95 flashback sort of leads me to believe we may not have seen the last of her.

Chanel No. 2:

I may be the only person in the United States who really doesn’t know much about Ariana Grande.  She was the donut-licking actress, right?  That’s about the extent of my knowledge of her.  But she was definitely the weakest Chanel.  I was not sorry to see her go.  That being said, her death scene was brilliant in its own right – essentially parodying the absurdity of so many horror movie death scenes, while poking fun at the Millennial dependency on and addiction to social media.

SCREAM QUEENS: Guest star Ariana Grande as Chanel #2 in "Pilot," the first part of the special, two-hour series premiere of SCREAM QUEENS airing Tuesday, Sept. 22 (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2015 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Steve Dietl/FOX.

SCREAM QUEENS: Guest star Ariana Grande as Chanel #2 in “Pilot,” the first part of the special, two-hour series premiere of SCREAM QUEENS airing Tuesday, Sept. 22 (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2015 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Steve Dietl/FOX.

The text exchange with the Red Devil, as well as her tweeting for help actually reminded me more of Scary Movie.  I found it fascinating (and a bit disturbing) how humorous this murder was.    (Or maybe it was just a result of my dislike for this character.)  I’m glad she managed to send through that final tweet.  Clearly that’s what’s important:  Legacy.

Deaf Taylor Swift:

This was another death over which I was a bit distraught.  For one thing, I just did not believe they would ever have killed this character, mostly because I felt a strange kinship with her.  Her obsession with Taylor Swift somewhat mirrors my own obsession with certain TV characters and actors.  Her death was gruesome.  For me, it was the most difficult death to watch.  But in the moments before she met her maker, at least she was singing “Shake It Off,” staying true to herself and her character.  Mad respect there!  I guess she left before the character got tiresome.  So I’ll look back to the premiere, and remember her fondly.

Shondell:

We didn’t know much about this one.  She was Denise’s friend,  and we know she loved Burger Shack.  Think of all the great scenes we could have had between these two women.  We did get the line: “Name one bad thing that ever happened at a Best Buy parking lot.”  They definitely had a fun dynamic.  But I suppose hearing Denise scream “SHONDELL” was a episode highlight for me.

Cliffhanger:

Nick Jonas is alive, guys.  He’s conspiring with the Red Devil, apparently. Will we learn more about this next week?  Perhaps.  Does this mean that anyone who died could potentially be alive?  I also have to consider the fact that perhaps there are multiple Red Devil killers.

Additionally, who is the mysterious bathtub baby?  And what else did Dean Munsch cover up?  That camera zoom at the end of the episode was a bit suspicious.  And where are all the bodies going? Besides Boone, we haven’t seen any of them resurface.  Is anyone actually dead?

SCREAM QUEENS: Jamie Lee Curtis as Dean Cathy Munsch in "Pilot," the first part of the special, two-hour series premiere of SCREAM QUEENS airing Tuesday, Sept. 22 (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2015 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Steve Dietl/FOX.

SCREAM QUEENS: Jamie Lee Curtis as Dean Cathy Munsch in “Pilot,” the first part of the special, two-hour series premiere of SCREAM QUEENS airing Tuesday, Sept. 22 (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2015 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Steve Dietl/FOX.

I have a lot of thoughts and even more questions.  But if this is anything like American Horror Story, it may be a while before we get most of the answers.  I’m okay with that.

Final (Random) Thoughts:

  • I wanted to quote half of the lines in these episodes.  There were too many gems.  I understand that this was definitely a heightened “reality,” and that people don’t speak to each other in quite this (sometimes terribly offensive) way.  But it was entertaining nonetheless.
  • I am really excited about so many of these characters, and just the overall satirical tone of the show.  I wasn’t expecting to actually like so many of them.
  • I finally received an explanation as to why I so often see female celebrities referred to as “MOM” on Twitter.  Honestly, this has been a question I’ve had for so long.
  • I have absolutely no idea who the killer(s) is yet, but I do hope it’s a believably clever twist.  And what is the motive?  It has to be more than just a general hatred for “Kappa.”
  • I adore the 80’s soundtrack.  It’s brilliant and gives the show a bit of a Heathers vibe.  You can’t go wrong there.
  • What is up with Grace’s dad?  I definitely got a weird feeling from him.  He’s concerned his daughter is pushing him away? But she’s going to college.  Maybe the uncomfortable feeling is just me and completely unfounded.  Also, will he and 90s Gigi get together?
  • “I have a thing for playlists.” Great line.
  • The message to the sorority girls that “sluts will die” is definitely in keeping with the usual rules of Horror movies.  Good to know.
  • Did anyone spot the Halloween homage Jamie Lee Curtis promised? 🙂
Marla has been passionately and disturbingly obsessed with television since she was in diapers. She lives and breathes all things TV, and attempts to watch anything and everything. Unfortunately there are just not enough hours in the day. She definitely has her top favorite shows, the identities of which will become painfully obvious if anyone stumbles upon her social media pages.

One Response to SCREAM QUEENS Premiere Debriefing: “What fresh hell is this?”

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