Did Jamie Lee Curtis invent Instagram?

24 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

How ‘Scream Queens” ‘white mammy’ problem may have tarnished Fox’s diversity glow.

“Abigail, you’re slaying,” Emma Roberts says, complimenting costar Abigail Breslin on her comedic delivery, during a break in shooting on Scream Queens’ New Orleans stages.Ryan Murphy directed “American Horror Story” and is now the creator of “Scream Queens,” which stars Emma Roberts and was filmed in New Orleans. “Ryan is so incredible,” Michele said during a recent interview “I think he’s done it yet again, bringing back this horror comedy genre.

Fox Television was hailed this year for developing “Empire,” about the power struggle of an African American family fighting over control of a massive music empire. The two actresses, along with co-stars Skyler Samuels, Keke Palmer, Lea Michele, Billie Lourd, and Niecy Nash, who plays inept security guard Denise Hemphill, are shooting a scene in which Chanel #5 begins to crack under the pressure of being stalked by a killer and flees the house. “This is insane!

But while critics and viewers applauded “Empire” as a major step in honoring cultural differences, those who tuned in to Tuesday night’s launch of Ryan Murphy’s horror-comedy “Scream Queens” may question Fox’s progress on the diversity front. Roberts’ Chanel feigns concern: “Number 5, don’t go—actually, I’m totally fine with her leaving.” Possibly the most ambitiously funny (and certainly most wicked) new show of the fall, it was the brainchild of Glee triumvirate Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, and Ian Brennan. Fox TV heads Dana Walden and Gary Newman showered Murphy (“American Horror Story,” “Glee”) and the series with glowing accolades at the show’s premiere Monday at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre, but some reviewers had already blasted “Scream Queens,” saying the series’ attempts at humor, particularly when it comes to race and stereotypes, are misguided — and even offensive. “Scream Queens,” which mocks slasher movies, centers on murders at a fictional university that hosts a chapter of Kappa Kappa Tau, an elite sorority run by the rich and entitled mean girl Chanel Oberlin (Emma Roberts). Airing Tuesdays at 9:00 p.m., Queens is a biting satire of millennials, feminism, and the collegiate Greek system mixed with an elaborate, gruesome Agatha Christie-style whodunit.

Or to put it in the show’s parlance, it’s as if Glee and American Horror Story (co-created by Murphy and Falchuk) hooked up at a mixer and birthed a really bitchy daughter. “Scream Queens to me is kind of the dream of American Horror Story, but with the sprinkling of this amazing comedy aspect that Ryan, Ian, and Brad do so well,” says Emma Roberts. Bean,” Roberts sneers. “I call her ‘white mammy’ because she’s essentially a house slave.” Chanel later forces the maid to recite the “I don’t know nothin’ about birthin’ no babies” line from “Gone With the Wind” — which, as Times critic Mary McNamara pointed out in her review, was actually said not by Mammy (Hattie McDaniel) but by another slave, Prissy (Butterfly McQueen). Chanel must also battle with Dean Munsch, who hates everything she stands for, and a group of undesirable new pledges (including Samuels, Michele, and Palmer) whom she’s forced to allow in. It not only aims to pull in viewers with an all-star cast — which includes pop singers Ariana Grande and Nick Jonas in supporting roles — but also is being filmed as an anthology that will take the survivors to a new location next season. The creators are also eager to push the boundaries of what can be said and done on network television. (For instance, necrophilia plays a fairly major role.) “I sorta feel like if you’re gonna do broadcast TV, you better go far, because people are not interested in it if you don’t,” says Murphy.

In the past, Murphy has been praised for his diverse casting and anti-bullying campaigns, especially on “Glee.” But the “white mammy” issue has caused some to take a second look at his older work. “There’s always a wink, a hair flip, a smirk to acknowledge the tongue-in-cheek nature of his jokes,” Cadenas wrote, “but that doesn’t lessen the vileness of these moments on his shows.” Cox added, “There’s something sinister about Murphy and friends’ insistence that it’s okay to dive into the reprehensible because we’re all supposed to know they don’t mean it.” Future “Scream Queens” episodes may reveal a reason behind Murphy’s broad-stroke caricatures. It may not be the point of view for everybody, but this is one of the funniest, best projects I have been involved with.” It’s also somewhat of a career rebirth for Curtis, who, since starring in Freaky Friday in 2003, has mostly just done guest spots on shows like New Girl and in commercials for the probiotic yogurt Activia. “I don’t want to denigrate that job, because the truth of the matter is I was happy doing it,” Curtis says of shilling yogurt. “We [worked with] great people, it was a public service… But to say it was creatively satisfying would be a lie.

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