tek's rating:

Scream Queens, on FOX
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Caution: spoilers (especially in season two)

This began in September 2015, a few weeks after the first season finale of the MTV series "Scream," a series that I didn't watch. The two shows are unrelated, but I'm sure I had heard about both of them prior to either one starting, and I must have confused some details about them. Anyway, it was only shortly before this series started that I watched the first scene of "Scream" online, and decided I wasn't interested in seeing any more of it. And I wasn't sure if I'd be interested in this show, either, but I at least wanted to check it out, mainly because of the cast. Oh, and because the show was created by some of the people behind Glee (which I loved) and American Horror Story (which I had wanted to see for awhile, but didn't watch the first season of that until some time after the first season of this). Anyway, I ended up loving the series, though your opinion of it will depend on your feelings about campiness. I should say that I'm not a big fan of horror movies in general, and anyone who is... will probably like this show a lot less than I did. Because it's meant to be a horror comedy, but it's much heavier on the latter half of the equation. And that's what I loved about it, because I found the show hilarious. (I'm sure there are people who don't like horror at all who would be disturbed by all the murders, while people who like horror more than I do would be disappointed that there are far fewer murders than they hoped for. Then again, I'm sure there are also horror fans who like comedy, and may actually love this show more than I do.)

Season One (13 episodes)
The first season is set at Wallace University, and focuses on a sorority called Kappa Kappa Tau. It begins in 1995, at a KKT party, where one of the pledges dies shortly after giving birth in a bathtub. The story then flashes forward to the present. Wes Gardner brings his daughter, Grace (Skyler Samuels), to Wallace. She wants to pledge at KKT, though her father recommends against it. Meanwhile, KKT is currently led by alpha bitch Chanel Oberlin (Emma Roberts), who is called Chanel #1, though until recently she was Chanel #4. She attained her current position after the previous Chanel #1 was attacked. (I thought she was killed, but we see her again near the end of the season.) Chanel Oberlin has a few minions, all called Chanel. Chanel #2 was played by Ariana Grande, but she was killed in the pilot. Chanel #5 is played by Abigail Breslin. I am unfamiliar with the actress playing Chanel #3 (though the character really grew on me, throughout the season). (Edit: the actress is Billie Lourd, who I don't think I realized until after season two ended is the daughter of Carrie Fisher... and the earmuffs Chanel #3 always wears are an homage to Princess Leia's iconic hair buns. Sadly, I only learned all this shortly after Fisher's death.) Anyway... there is no current Chanel #4, which I'm assuming is because the current queen retired her old number. (At one point early on, she offered to make Grace Chanel #6, a title that eventually goes to Hester, whom I'll mention presently.)

Chanel #1 has a highly antagonistic relationship with the university's newly promoted dean, Cathy Munsch (Jamie Lee Curtis), who wants to revoke KKT's charter. However, the national president of KKT, a lawyer named Gigi Caldwell (Nasim Pedrad), prevents this. So at first she seems to be on Chanel's side, but then she advises Munsch to force the sorority to allow anyone to become pledges. This includes Grace, her roommate and new BFF Zayday Williams (Keke Palmer), Hester "Neckbrace" Ulrich, and a few other girls whom Chanel finds undesirable. So she's not happy about this new rule. Also, there is a serial killer called "the Red Devil" (because he wears a red devil costume), who is targeting KKT members. This leads to Gigi convincing all the pledges to move into KKT House, and hiring a security guard named Denise Hemphill (Niecy Nash). And Wes decides to get a job at Wallace, so he can be close to his daughter. Meanwhile, Grace believes the sorority has become corrupt, and wants to change it. To do this, she teams up with an investigative journalist for the student paper, named Pete Martínez, who has a grudge against Chanel #1 (whom he used to stalk, so he doesn't seem all that trustworthy). But he becomes Grace's main partner in trying to learn who the killer is, as well as becoming her love interest.

Chanel Oberlin has a boyfriend named Chad Radwell, who is the president of a fraternity called the Dickie Dollar Scholars. The two of them break up and get back together repeatedly throughout the season, but Chad also has relationships with several other women. We also meet a few other members of the fraternity, including Chad's roommate and best friend, Boone, who has an unrequited crush on Chad. And there's a guy named Earl Grey, who eventually starts dating Zayday (the two of them are by far the most sensible people on the show). And there are twins named Roger and Dodger, who are both dating Chanel #5. But the Red Devil soon targets Dickie Dollar Scholars as well as KKT members (and pledges), so... anyone can die at any time. And it's not just students who are in danger, either. But I don't want to reveal exactly who dies and who lives through the end of the season.

Anyway, there are lots of plot twists throughout the season, but the show never makes much sense, which is intentional. What makes it so much fun is how crazy and ridiculous and impossible and hilariously absurd it all is, and how over-the-top most of the characters are. (It's understood that the people in horror movies never act logically, never do what real people would do in their situation. But the characters on this show carry that trope to farcical extremes.) And I guess that's all I want to say about season one.

Season Two (10 episodes)
Like season one, this season involves a flashback to something that happened decades ago; this time, Halloween night in 1985. But the show is no longer set at Wallace University; this time, it's set at a hospital. In 1985, a pregnant woman named Jane Hollis came to the hospital seeking help for her husband. However, Dr. Mike (played by Jerry O'Connell) is more interested in the hospital's Halloween party, and he ends up responsible for the death of Jane's husband. He then dumps the body in the toxic swamp behind the hospital, which may actually be common practice there. (Dr. Mike also dumps his "Green Meanie" Halloween costume in the swamp.) There's later a flashback to Halloween 1986, in which someone wearing another Green Meanie costume killed everyone in the hospital. I think the place was shut down after that, but well before the season ended I'd already forgotten a lot that was revealed at the start of the season.

Anyway, in the present (2016), the hospital is bought and reopened by Cathy Munsch, who rebrands it as the C.U.R.E. Institute (Caregivers United in Restorative Etiology), the purpose of which is to find cures for "incurable" diseases. (It's strange that this season is said to be set two years after season one, but is also said to be set in 2016, when it aired, even though season one was set in 2015. But whatevs.) Munsch hires Dr. Brock Holt (John Stamos) and Dr. Cassidy Cascade (Taylor Lautner) to work there. She also hires Zayday, who's now a medical student, as well as Chanels #1, 3, and 5. (At this point I'll have to reveal that at the end of season one, they'd been framed for murder by Hester, who was just one of a few Red Devils. They ended up in an insane asylum, but this season it's revealed that they were later released when it was discovered that Hester was the real killer, who then went to prison. However, the Chanels couldn't get good jobs because of their notoriety, so they had little choice but to accept Munsch's job offer to become "medical students" at her hospital.) However, as might be expected, they don't actually do any studying, and mostly just act like they're still sorority queens. (Although #5 has always been treated like crap by the other Chanels, especially #1, and that continues this season.) And they end up inviting a bunch of other girls (and one gay guy) to come to the hospital and become Chanels, so they'd have people to boss around. However, there's now a new Green Meanie killing people, and the new Chanels mostly end up being killed, along with several patients. Meanwhile, Chanel #1 begins dating Brock, though he's also occasionally involved with Munsch. And Chanel #3 begins dating Cassidy (who reveals one weird secret that never really goes anywhere... though later on he'll reveal a much more important secret).

What else? Zayday begins investigating the Green Meanie and the hospital's history, which has been almost completely erased from public records, I guess. And just as last season there was a frequent assumption that the Red Devil was "the baby in the bathtub" (that is, the baby born in 1995), this season there's frequent mention of "the baby in the belly" (that is, Jane Hollis's baby). Zayday gets some help in her investigations from a candy striper named Chamberlain Jackson. Also, the hospital has an administrator named Nurse Ingrid Hoffel (Kirstie Alley), who hates the Chanels. (They seem pretty easy to hate for obvious reasons, or at least #1 does, but we eventually learn she has a more specific reason to hate them.) Also, Denise Hemphill, now a special agent in the FBI, comes to the hospital to investigate the Green Meanie killings, though she ends up out of commission for most of the season, for a reason I won't spoil. Also, we learn that before Munsch hired him, Brock's formerly brilliant career as a surgeon had ended when he lost one of his hands, and had it replaced by the hand of a serial killer. And now that hand seems to have a will of its own, which Brock tries to fight (and to hide from everyone). Also, we learn that Munsch started this hospital because she has a supposedly incurable disease, herself. Also, Hester eventually gets transferred from prison to the hospital, because she claims to know who the killer is, but never really gives any useful information to anyone.

And... there are some returning characters I haven't mentioned, and various plot developments I don't want to spoil. And of course I'm not going to reveal who the killer(s) is/are, or how it all ends. I will say that the show remains as absurd as ever, if not more so. (The diseases the Institute's patients had were especially bizarre.) There were definitely some things throughout the season that I found very amusing, but on the whole, I think I liked it slightly less than season one. Though while working on this review, I read on Wikipedia that critics said season two was better than season one. I'm fairly sure I hadn't heard or read any critics' opinions of the season, and I kind of assumed I liked it more than critics, and that the critics would have thought the show's quality had declined more than I thought it did. So I was surprised to learn they liked it more. But either way, I still enjoyed it, and I wouldn't mind seeing a third season. Alas, there won't be one.


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