Saturday, September 26, 2015

Pilot Review: Scream Queens

Scream Queens (FOX)
Premiered September 22 at 8pm

Sometimes expectations about a show can be traced back most strongly to its creator if that person has enough of a reputation. In the case of Ryan Murphy and his partners Brad Falchuk and Ian Brennan, that is certainly the case. “Nip/Tuck,” “Glee,” and “American Horror Story” occupy three very different genres, but all include the same excess to whatever degree is appropriate in their categories, namely sexual explicitness, over-the-top high school parody, and grotesque horror. The newest show from this team seems to combine all three of those elements into something appropriate for a broadcast network audience (the first and third aired on FX, which allows more objectionable content than FOX). The best way to describe this two-hour pilot is that it’s a lot to take. Its portrayal of college sorority life is extremely exaggerated, taking on a “Mean Girls” attitude but pushing it to the extreme. Its incorporation of horror also involves such pleasantries as watching a woman get her face burned off and someone else having her head run over by a lawnmower. This show is supposed to occupy the place between comedy and horror, and for many, I’m sure it will be a success. The lead character portrayed by Emma Roberts, an AHS alum, is particularly excessive, but that’s what this show is designed to be. I lasted through about three seasons of “Nip/Tuck,” about the same of “Glee,” and one short disturbing episode of AHS. I’m inclined to give this show, which does include good performances from Abigail Breslin as a loyal Chanel and Niecy Nash as an absurdly ineffective security guard, another chance, but it’s so unbelievably irritating that I don’t know how much I can really stomach. There isn’t enough to make up for that annoyance in terms of its content, but I guess the mystery of who the killer is slightly intriguing.

How will it work as a series? There are only so many characters this show can kill off before it’s out of players, but I don’t think that will be too much of a problem considering the rate at which they seem to be coming back to life. Managing its excessive nature shouldn’t be a problem given that the creative team’s previous efforts have been similar indulgent.
How long will it last? The opening ratings were not much to write home about, and that could be a problem given that FOX was clearly banking on this show to be a big hit. Reviews were decent but I think FOX is going to want stronger numbers for this show to keep it around. Right now, I think it’ll be safe for the season but unlikely to get a renewal.

Pilot grade: C

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