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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Friday, February 03, 2023
Ben Golden

'Scream Queens' concocts addictive show made of humor and horror

“Scream Queens” is a television series that is like bubblegum for the viewer: fun to pop in your mouth and chew for a little while, but eventually it loses its flavor and you need to spit it out. It’s a gum that has a taste that is not for everyone, but if you have a longing for some retro Bazooka and like the funny comics on the wrapper, your cravings will be quenched.

“Scream Queens” seems like the logical next step for showrunner Ryan Murphy, who seems to find a middle ground with this show that falls between “American Horror Story” and “Glee.” It is packed with recognizable talent and offers a horror-comedy blend with just the right amount of off-color humor and disturbing gore. Unfortunately, this show has the potential to spiral down to a disappointing sizzle like the once-popular “Glee.” It is like the crude yet entertaining cousin that comes to visit; they probably won’t be around long, but while they’re here to visit, you might as well enjoy it.

The show has a fun vintage theme with bawdy humor that makes you hesitate before laughing to wonder if it’s ethical, but then laugh anyway. It reflects the strange, lewd, dark humor of the ’80s movie “Heathers.” The music content alone will give you a dose of nostalgia. The show takes place in modern day, but the influence is still ever-present. For example, at a slumber party college girls dance to “I Melt With You,” something you would never see happen at a modern-day university, but it’s done just for throwback’s sake. Murphy attempts to bring back the spoiled Brat Pack in the form of sorority girls. As you can imagine, this is the type of show Greek lovers and haters would love to watch.

“Scream Queens” is faithful to its name, featuring over-the-top shrieking as sorority girls get picked off one by one by a serial killer dressed as the college mascot, the Red Devil. Emma Roberts plays the sorority president, Chanel. She pulls it off well, with viciously hilarious one-liners that will give you an auditory double-take. Her minions are assigned numbers instead of names, each having their own quirk. To give you some sort of idea, Lea Michele plays a psychopath with a fetish for dead bodies, Abigail Breslin has serious self-esteem issues and is regularly “Eiffel Towering” two frat twins, and Billie Lourd always wears earmuffs, experiments with lesbianism, oh, and is Charles Manson’s biological daughter. To continue with the wackiness of it all, Jamie Lee Curtis plays a horny, corrupt dean who has it out for the sorority. Almost all the characters lack a moral compass and the harsh humor reflects that on many levels. It will turn some viewers off, but the shock value will draw more viewers in.

“Scream Queens” is not trying to be a masterpiece, it’s only trying to have some fun. Just like that one mean girl you know, the show isn’t very deep and lacks a filter, but you’re back for more because you admittedly love to hate it. The show highlights and dramatizes everything that is wrong with the self-obsessed, millennial teenager and dresses it in vintage clothing. It’s fun to look in the mirror and laugh at our ridiculous generation. Just as Ariana Grande desperately clings to the keyboard and tweets her last status as she is being stabbed by the killer, we value our image enough to risk our common sense, and that in itself can be disturbing yet comical.

Do you love “Scream Queens”? Let Ben know at bagolden@wisc.edu.

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