Scream Queens: EW review

23 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Getting to know some of the stars of ‘Scream Queens’.

Back in the ’80s and ’90s, they were everywhere. Premiering on Tuesday, the horror-comedy anthology will introduce an exciting cast of characters — and some of the faces will be familiar to most viewers.STORY: Twenty years after an unfortunate event at Wallace University’s Kappa Kappa Tau house, the sorority becomes the target of a serial killer in a red devil outfit.Lea Michele’s journals from the time she’s spent in New Orleans filming Fox’s comedy-horror anthology “Scream Queens,” which debuts with a two-hour premiere at 7 p.m.

Actress Jamie Lee Curtis is known as Hollywood’s true “Scream Queen” due to her early film roles — particularly in the “Halloween” franchise — during her acting career. Curtis has acted in a number of box office hits during her illustrious film career, including “Trading Places,” “A Fish Called Wanda” and “True Lies,” the last of which she won a Golden Globe award for with her performance. A veteran of the New Orleans-filmed “Coven” and “Freak Show” seasons of “American Horror Story,” Roberts has acted as concierge for Michele as she found here way around town. “I literally text her and I say, ‘OK, I want a quiet Italian restaurant with outdoor seating and pizza on the menu — go!’ Michele said. “And she’ll literally say, ‘Mariza.’ I feel bad for her, writing her every single day. Actress, singer, and author Lea Michele, otherwise known as the ever-ambitious Rachel Berry on Fox’s hit series “Glee,” was once a Broadway child star. On the “Great White Way,” Michele tackled the roles of Young Cosette in “Les Miserables” at the age of eight and Wendla in the revival of “Spring Awakening” in 2006.

Ariana Grande, Billie Lourd and Abigail Breslin are her beleaguered minions, Chanel Nos. 2, 3 and 5. (Something happened to 4.) Lea Michele, Skyler Samuels and Keke Palmer play misfit pledges. Keke Palmer’s first movie role was in the drama “Akeelah and the Bee,” also starring two of Hollywood’s most talented and highly praised performers: Laurence Fishburne and Angela Bassett. “Unfabulous” star Emma Roberts comes from a leading family of actors — one of her aunts is “Pretty Woman” Julia Roberts and her dad is Golden Globe and Academy Award-nominated actor Eric Roberts. Along with Grace (Skyler Samuels), a seemingly normal girl whose past, we’re led to believe, may have something to do with the sordid history of the sorority house. For the first time in forever, we’re seeing that kind of quasi-glamorized, quasi-villified mean girl again, on Fox’s new horror-comedy Scream Queens.

Oliver Hudson, brother of Golden Globe winner and fitness brand founder Kate Hudson, has made a noteworthy mark as an actor in many film and television shows, namely in the successful country musical drama “Nashville.” The former “Saturday Night Live” cast member shined on the long-running sketch comedy show with her celebrity impersonations (M.I.A; Kim Kardashian; Arianna Huffington; Barbara Walters) and recurring characters (Bedelia; Pippa; Shallon). It bogs down, though, when it deals with “identity entertainment” — the creators’ penchant for making every story about gender, sexuality, race and class. Saturday (Sept. 26) at Garden District Book Shop when Michele signs her new book, “You First: Journal Your Way to Your Best Life.” A sizable crowd is expected. It follows blonde-haired, black-hearted sorority fascist Chanel No. 1 (Emma Roberts), who’s been forced by the university’s Dean Munsch (Jamie Lee Curtis) to open Kappa House to all students — even “fatties and ethnics,” as Chanel calls them — while a devil-masked killer knocks off pledges and Kappa sisters alike.

The Iranian-American actress has mainly starred in other comedic television shows such as “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” and “New Girl.” Nash also has experience as a television host on the the once-labeled Style Network for “Clean House,” a role that helped her snag an Emmy award in 2010. She refers to them, instead, as Chanel No. 2 (Ariana Grande), Chanel No. 3 (Billie Lourd), and Chanel No. 5 (Abigail Breslin). (Chanel No. 4 left college and died.) Chanel is vicious and mercenary, a former nice girl who learned to throw acid, literally, in order to become a queen bee. According to the bookstore’s website, the evening is ” a wrist-band event” for those who purchase “You First” from the store, either via pre-order or the day of the signing. “No personalizations, no posed photos and no other memorabilia please,” the site says. “You First” is a workbook for neophyte journal-keepers, guiding users through topic sections covering fitness, diet, work, school and relationships. The pilot flashes back and forth between 1994, when a sorority girl died mysteriously at Kappa House, and the 20th anniversary of her death — a savvy way to appeal to both college-age viewers and their parents, who will recognize many of Scream Queen’s pop-culture references.

Her acrid, racist, classist narration introduces audiences to the twisted world of Scream Queens, where Chanel plans events like a “side-boob mixer” and a “white party” at which “everyone is encouraged to wear and be white.” She tell the audience “Life is a class system,” before introducing the sorority housekeeper Ms. So gross it’s funny, in an extremely over-the-top way. “Scream Queens” starts out at such a high level of crazy it’s difficult to imagine that it can maintain it for long. When a security guard (Niecy Nash) lists all the ineffective ways she’s prepared to protect Kappa House, she’s winking at the self-aware genre comedy of Scream.

I would watch him journal, and I eventually sort of started to want to do it myself. (I liked) the fact that he was getting to write down all of these memories and all of these feelings and have something that he could look back on.” “Less stories and retelling of my day and whatnot, but more setting goals for myself and more journaling about what I wanted to do and making plans through the journaling,” she said. “It’s a specific type of journaling. Throughout the years, however many years ago now, I really believe it’s helped me get to where I am today — writing down my goals, writing down my dreams and making them happen.” The proof is in the pages. This kind of steroidal mean girl is a favorite type of Murphy’s, all the way back to his show Popular, but she is not usually the initial POV character, what with being a heinous racist and all.

Still, watching the Chanels work their magic, it’s obvious why this vintage mean-girl archetype is not as popular now, in this It Gets Better era when every queen bee from Jennifer Lawrence to Taylor Swift claims she was bullied in high school. Grace Gardner (Skyler Samuels) is a bright-eyed innocent who wants to rush Chanel’s sorority because her mother, who died when she was 2 (she thinks anyway), was also a Kappa. She wasn’t sure when she’d wrap because of the nature of the story – a mysterious killer serially attacks a haughty college sorority – and how her character might exit it. “It’s fun and funny, but it’s a lot of work,” Michele said. “We’re really putting our blood, sweat and tears into the first season of this show to make sure it’s the absolute best it can be.” “New Orleans is honestly such a welcoming city,” Michele said. “Everyone here has been so nice, and just really have been so wonderful in opening their arms to us as a cast.

But with its sharp wit and rat-a-tat dialogue, Glee sometimes sounded like it was longing to laugh at these nerds as often as it laughed along with them. When Chanel walks in on them and freaks out, Chad gets angry at her for being a “spoiled homophobic girl” who can’t understand that everyone wants to get with Chad. The most interesting characters are the misfit pledges: Grace, her black roommate Zayday (Keke Palmer), a deaf woman named Tiffany (Whitney Meyer), the neck-braced Hester (Lea Michelle), the lesbian “Predatory Lez” (Jeanna Han), and Jennifer (Breezy Eslin), a “candle vlogger” who reviews candles on YouTube. (“I call this one the Nancy Meyers Experience, because it smells like creamy couches and menopause.”) These women get all the best one-liners, and they also serve up the smartest meta-commentary about race, gender, sexuality, and class, which might make you assume that the show sides with these so-called losers. In the first episode, the killer, who dresses as the school’s red devil mascot, kills at least three people, but those looking for any real shivers in their comedies should probably rewatch Scream.

But that’s not the case when Scream Queens pushes easy shock value for its own sake, as when Chanel repeatedly insists that Kappa’s maid call her “white mammy” and the other sorority sisters force the poor woman to say she “don’t know nothin’ bout birthin’ no babies.” (Also: today’s sorority girls still quote Gone with the Wind? It’s not that the deaths aren’t theoretically gruesome— someone’s head gets taken off with a lawn mower—it’s that Murphy does not linger on any of them. One scene finds Tiffany mistaking her fellow Kappa pledges’ screaming for a Taylor Swift sing-along — a joke so tasteless, I almost turned off my TV. And yet, thinking about these scenes later, I wondered whether outright cruelty might be slightly more thought-provoking than the type of facile anti-bullying message that allows viewers to pat themselves on the backs.

Just compare Scream Queens to AHS: Coven, which also featured Roberts and a group of college-age female outcasts: Screams Queens is younger, much less frightening, just about as funny, and more superficial, relying almost exclusive on Chanel’s stank mind for its shocks. Still, there’s a reason Fox keeps hitting up Ryan Murphy: Even operating in his comfort zone—the world of bitchy teenagers—his product is polished, sharp and full of one-liners that leave a mark.

When local news reporters descend upon Dean Munsch, questioning her about the devil-mask killer, tearful students lurk in the background, taking selfies and giving faux-devastated interviews about a victim they’ve never even met. “I’ve got news for you, self-involved junior,” the Dean thinks to herself. “Just because you know a guy who was in a class with the dead girl’s roommate does not mean that it could have been you.” The idea that empathy might stem from self-interest also feels like a sly indictment of the viewer. But for me, its critique extends to viewers of all ages. “My shrink says these kids are the most messed-up of any generation they’ve seen because their parents made life so easy for them,” says the sorority’s attorney Gigi (Nasim Pedrad). “It’s like they can’t handle adversity.” Sometimes I worry about that same weakness with viewers, too.

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