Uploaded to MoviePilot on October 16
A short written series I did about cancelled shows, this is the last one and I probably won’t bring these back but… who knows?
Also, this is the last article from my MoviePilot days, thanks for bearing with me while I did this, back to regular reviews after this.
Welcome to the sixth instalment of “Gone Too Soon” where I talk about cancelled TV series that were cancelled after one or two seasons. I will be exploring what worked, what didn’t work and why it might have failed to get an audience. Last time I talked about the one season long show Fear Itself. This time we’re going to be looking at the two season-long Scream Queens but before we start, THEME MUSIC!
Scream Queens: What Was It?
Scream Queens was a Horror-Comedy series created by Ryan Murphy that aired between September 2015 and December of 2016. It followed the story of Chanel Oberlin (Played by Emma Roberts) who, along with her fellow Chanels (Played by Billie Lourd, Abigail Breslin and Ariana Grande), are the most popular girls in school. The one person on campus who really doesn’t like them is Dean Munch (Played by Jamie Lee Curtis) who decides to make their lives hell by forcing them to accept some very unpopular/awkward girls into their sorority. Oh and while all this is going on, a man dressed as the school’s mascot is running around killing people because of a reason.
This is a mascot for a school… I’m stunned it didn’t kill people sooner (Credit: Fox)
…and then the second season happened in a Hospital, also for some reason
What Worked For Scream Queens?
As is often the case in these kinds of shows, the cast is amazing. Ryan Murphy has a knack when it comes to casting, creating some of the best ensemble casts on television and this is no exception. Emma Roberts plays an evil bitch character like no one else, you hate her instantly and yet she is endlessly quotable and you understand how someone who is such a bitch could not only get a legion of fans but also have a serial killer following her. Lea Michelle as Hester is a beautiful comic creation, not only when she’s walking around with her insane brace that looks like something out of a Gonzo torture flick but in Season 2 when she’s doing a Hannibal Lecter impression is when she shines. Jamie Lee Curtis as Dean Munch is easily one of Jamie’s funniest performances, especially one particular fight scene where she ends up perfectly recreating the shower scene in Psycho and then fighting a bunch of Red Devils and Antonin Scalia… this was in 2015, so this wasn’t as tasteful as it might’ve been had the episode aired about 6 months later. If you enjoy scenes of iconic actresses kicking people in the face as much as I do, this scene alone is a reason to watch the show.
You do not understand how much I adore this scene of Jamie Lee Curtis kicking people in the face (Credit: Fox)
The writing is also surprisingly good, the storyline is a bit elaborate at times but when a joke landed, it landed. The phrase “Greetings, Idiot Hookers” might as well be the show’s catchphrase because it explains the main characters so perfectly. There’s an entire episode where Denise Hemphill (Played flawlessly by Niecy Nash) tells spooky stories and every one is hilariously written. Some lines of offensive are crossed with dialogue, especially in the early episodes but after a while, they got the hang of things and made some really fun dialogue moments.
The first season plot really does work well, it’s a great riff on the classic slasher movies of the 80’s. It’s basically what would happen if Clueless suddenly had a serial killer and it’s amazing. It introduced a bunch of really fun concepts and characters that all worked together, along with a pretty satisfying conclusion for the main characters and a pretty fun ending. The second season… well…
What Didn’t Work For Scream Queens?
So the entire second season is set in a hospital and it’s dumb. I mean, I do get why they changed locations… because Ryan had stumbled on a goldmine idea with American Horror Story where he’d take his cast and give them new roles and an entirely new story, but the same tone linking the varying seasons. He’s repeated this with American Crime Story and Feud, both of which will be doing the same idea that American Horror Story perfected. Scream Queens did not do this. They took the surviving characters and moved them to a new location (Via stupid methods that are stupid and do not make sense in a logical world such as ours). If they had just taken the same tone of show but given everyone new characters, basically making a comedy version of American Horror Story it would work so much better but now we have major characters doing stupidly out of character things that make no sense. Dean Munch buys a hospital to cure her own illness… that’s your hint that this season did not know what it was actually doing.
This is apparently a thing that makes sense… because untrained non-med students can totally be nurses (Credit: Fox)
While I have to praise the dialogue for being witty, there are times when it went from ‘Witty’ to ‘Oh my god, how did nobody catch the racism here?’. Case in point, this line from the opening episode
“I call her ‘white mammy’ because she’s essentially a house slave.”
This was within the first few minutes of the episode and I can’t blame someone for turning the TV off the second the word ‘mammy’ is said, let along house slave or the later recitation of lines from Gone With The Wind in order to mock the housemaid. Now, in full context, the line is meant to show that Channel is an evil piece of shit dumpster-fire of a human being who deserves everything that’s going to happen to her over the course of this series… that she survives and is literally the star of. We’re meant to either identify with her or enjoy her for long enough that we can handle watching her for the 23 episode run of this series. She never has any actual repercussions for this behaviour and she sure as hell doesn’t change.
Oh, and before it’s mentioned, I’m aware that at the end of season one she’s framed for every murder and sent to the nut house which would be a punishment IF she wasn’t released in the first episode of season two where she goes right back to her old ways as though nothing mattered. It’s maybe possible to get past this because the racism is dropped quickly but holy crap, maybe don’t make your main character a racist if that racist is going to be in every episode and never get her just desserts.
Nick Jonas is judging your stupidity… and has amazing hair while doing it (Credit: Fox)
And now we come to the gay erasure. See, in the first season, one of the main characters is Boone Clemens (Played by Nick Jonas) who is a gay jock who is best friends with Chanel’s boyfriend Chad Radwell (Played by Glen Powell) and he is an awesome gay character. He never hides his sexuality, his best friend is the straightest of straight jocks who is totally cool with him and even lets Boone sleep in his bed during a particularly scary night. He’s a bit of an asshole, but he’s likable and he just seems like an average guy who happens to be gay. Great, that’s what I want in a gay character so I was so into him… until episode nine. In episode nine, Boone announces he’s in love with Zayday (Played by Keke Palmer) because it turns out that he’s not gay, he was straight and was faking being gay the entire time… burn everything. Burn it all, burn every little thing that is on this earth, this is some bullshit right here. He apparently faked it as part of his cover… because apparently being gay means you’ll blend in? I don’t know, it’s stupid and wrong on a moral and storytelling level, whoever suggested this idea was dumb and needs to not be dumb anymore. Because here’s the thing, him being gay or straight doesn’t actually alter the story in any way, it’s there because someone thought it would be a great idea to have Boone hit on Zayday at some point but sorry, it’s pointless and didn’t need to be done. It would’ve been much more interesting (And, ya know, not treated a persons sexuality like a joke) if instead all the scenes he had with Zayday were had with Chad. That would be interesting, and we don’t take a gay character and pretend he was never gay in the first place… this show was created by a gay man who should know better, by the way.
Why Was It Cancelled?
This one can just be put down to the ratings for the show. At it’s best this show only got 4 million viewers… on Fox. FOX! Fox will kill your show if you don’t have 10 million viewers, how well do you think a show that only gets 4 million at it’s best and 1.37 million at it’s worst is going to do? Sure when you factor in DVR those numbers grow to 7.06 million at it’s best and 1.72 million at it’s worst, but that still isn’t going to work on a major network like Fox.
It also probably doesn’t help that this series was going on while American Horror Story was still going, Glee was finishing up, American Crime Story was beginning. Basically, Ryan Murphy (And Ian Brennan and Brad Falchuk, they are also creators but Ryan Murphy is kind of the figurehead here) was running around between four shows simultaneously. If you wanna know how this kind of thing affects the quality of a show, go look at Season Six of Buffy, Season Three of Angel and Firefly and tell me which of those three looks like it was made by a creator who was there all the time to help guide the ship. If you have a lot of shows on the air at one time, it’s inevitable that one or more of them will suffer quality wise and that’s partially what happened here.
Also, just because I have to point this out, when you state that “We hope to create a whole new genre – comedy-horror – and the idea is for every season to revolve around two female leads” then not only should you really do that “Every season revolve around two female leads” thing a little better, but you need to look up Tales From The Crypt for an example of how to do Comedy-Horror on TV right (Because it’s not new, not even close, he actually said this, oh my god)
Should It Have Been Renewed?
Honestly? Yeah. Despite all my problems with the show, it’s still fun. It still was a show where the entire main cast was women and they weren’t all idealised, they had flaws and could be mean but could also kick ass and were funny. Jamie Lee Curtis alone should’ve gotten this renewed because that woman should be on TV all the time either making me laugh my ass off or selling me that yogurt that makes you poop normally. It’s a fun show with a lot of problems, but it can still be enjoyed.
So How Can I Watch It?
Season one is readily available on DVD in most stores, Amazon has it right now for about 10 bucks so if you’re interested just grab it there. Season two doesn’t appear to have a concrete release date yet for the DVD but it is on Amazon streaming services and iTunes, but only grab it if you really like the first season.
It’s a show that had the potential to be great and while it never reaches it, it’s still a decent brainless show that’ll get a few laughs… when you’re done cringing.
What’s Your Favorite Episode Of Fear Itself?