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Scream Queens Season 1 (2015)

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Lifestyle of the Rich and Famous

Brad Falchuk And Ryan Murphy’s fourth brainchild after Nip/Tuck, Glee and American Horror Story (which Season 6 debuts this week and will be reviewed here), the series was witten specifically, and pitched to, Jamie Lee Curtis, maybe the original scream queen in Halloween (1978). She said yes before reading a screenplay. And what it must have been to receive that particular one. She is all across the board in the role of Cathy Munsch, Dean of the exclusive Wallace University who nurtures a specific hatred against its elite Kappa Kappa Tau sorority. Presided by Chanel Oberlin (Emma Roberts, Eric’s daughter and Julia’s niece, having inherited the family mouth), whose sisters’ only name are Chanel N°3 (Billie Lourd, Carrie Fisher’s daughter, wonderful in her Princess Leia earmuffs), and Chanel N°5 (Abigail Breslin), because, why the hell take the trouble of remembering their name. The family ties involved smartly reinforce the implicit snobbery of such a backdrop.

Problem: a serial killer starts offing the sorority pledges, wearing the mascot costume of the football team, the Red Devils. Interestingly, he starts with a character named “Deaf Taylor Swift”. The body counts escalades fast. Will Chanel survive the season, allowing her Uncle Karl to deliver his new collection to her in a timely fashion? Will the new girl in town, Grace (Skyler Samuels) make it through herself? Who was the baby born in a bathtub in the pilot’s prologue? More importantly, what’s for diner apart cotton balls and barbecue sauce? You have figured out by now that Scream Queens is serious drama, not to be trifled with. Truffled, maybe. Shaved on cotton balls.

The series jubilantly plays high camp, giving the impression that liberated from a specific activity (cosmetic surgery) or genre (musical, horror) the writers can gayly – very, very gaily – frolic in slasher clichés, over the top outfits and witty banter. One can try to give you a flavour of what they have in store here, but frankly, where to begin? Dialogue is endlessly quotable and it comes from all directions, including the main frat boy, Chad Radwell, who never met a corpse who didn’t make him hard, or the larger than life Denise Hemphill (Niecy Nash, straight out of a blacksploitation flick), security guard promptly promoted to Chief of Police who will, whatever trouble one is in “come a-running”, then fly away screaming.

There some urban legends, including the mandatory Japanese one. There is the obligatory Nietzsche abyss, to which one retorts “You’re already a murderer, you don’t have to be a douche as well”. There is the uncanny concept of mix tapes as investigative technique. There is an attempt at killing Jamie Lee Curtis like her mother was in Psycho, only by a Supreme Court judge this time, and one at suicide via a garter snake wearing a Freddy Krueger sweater. A high-on-acid final Hercule Poirot sequence, a threat on the life of the Duchess of Cambridge, and more. Scream Queens requires a high level of tolerance for schriecking but it’s a riot, pop trash of the first magnitude.

As Denise Hemphill would say, there is no way to “stop the hot tsunami of truth come a-rolling into that house”. A second season is already made. One will kill anyone trying to prevent one to watch it asap. Happy hazing!

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