Fox debuted its new horror comedy “Scream Queens” last night, and it was a funny, bloody, politically incorrect delight. The female-centric cast opts out of giving us those “Lean In”–esque moments of female empowerment that we’ve come to expect from shows like “Scandal” and “Orange Is The New Black.” Instead, “Scream Queens” pokes fun at some feminist talking points and plays into gender stereotypes.
Kappa Kappa Tau, an elitist sorority of white girls, finds itself in danger of a serial killer dressed as a red devil. They hire an inept female security guard (played by Niece Nash) after a pledger nicknamed “Predatory Lez” complains that male security guards remind her of the patriarchy.
Yet the subtle digs at shrill feminism don’t undermine the show’s female superiority dynamic, particularly when it comes to sex. In nearly all of the scenes where the female characters find themselves getting it on, their male partners prove to be either a cowering pawn who is bad in bed, a total jerk, or possibly the serial killer disguised as the school’s red devil mascot. None of the male characters seem to be any good at fulfilling these women’s sexual desires or even behaving decently at all, with the exception of the token nice-girl Grace’s dad, a widower who repeatedly goes out of his way to make his daughter safe.
Don’t expect to get many deep moments from complicated female characters. These women are flat like cardstock, but boy do they make fun paper dolls to watch.Often dressed in pastel-colored ensembles that look like they were stolen from the set of “Mad Men,” the women of Kappa Kappa Tau, who are all named Chanel, are exactly what we would want mean sorority girls to look like. They are peak white privilege, especially Chanel No. 1, who is played by the ever-fabulous Emma Roberts.
Devilishly self-centered and homophobic, Chanel No. 1 is the reigning Queen Bee.
Her rise to power allegedly happened after she sprayed the former sorority president down with acid, and early on we see her accidentally fry the face off of the maid, but Chanel’s finer moments present themselves when she reveals her politically incorrect viewpoints.
In an attempt to seem more accepting of the gay community, she considers allowing a gay guy (played by the dreamy Nick Jonas) to pledge Kappa so she can win over gay makeup artist and hairstylists when she attains her dream of becoming a network newscaster.
In a slightly more uncomfortable moment of the show, Chanel introduces her maid as a “‘white mammy’ because she’s essentially a house slave.” Though cringe-worthy, politically incorrect moments like this one seem to be almost intentionally thought-provoking. Perhaps the easygoing way the show lobs controversial bombs like this are more than just a cheap laugh.
“Scream Queens” manages to poke fun at millennials without being preachy. During the slaying of Chanel No. 2 (played by Ariana Grande), she spends the final moments of her life texting the killer and tweeting her experience.
Her behavior seems like the actions of a millennial stock character, as she is unable to defend herself while scrambling for her laptop to tweet details of her murder.
The premier was surprisingly un-scary. While there were a few scenes that caused me to look away from the screen for a second, for the most part there was very little carnage. Though several characters were killed off in pretty grotesque ways throughout the two-hour debut, their deaths were quick and a lot was left to the imagination. During one of the more memorable killing scenes, one pledger gets decapitated by a lawn mower, but we don’t actually get to see it happen.
While “Scream Queens” probably won’t satisfy an itch for guts and gore, it is a fun show that’s unafraid to push the envelope when it comes to political correctness. The set is pretty, it features a phenomenal cast, and most importantly we get to see mean girls on screen again.