ABOUT LAST NIGHT: Scream Queens is Back and I Have a Confession (I Was Wrong)
A quick spoilery roundup for Tuesday, September 20. What did you think about last night? And what’d we miss? Let us know in the comments!
There were other shows on last night, but nothing (including S.H.I.E.L.D and This is Us) interested me as much as Scream Queens.
A year ago I wrote a scathing put-down of the first two hours of Scream Queens. (“Exhausting. Tedious”). I ranted against Ryan Murphy (Murphy’s shows are designed to run on excess and chaos, which means that if a show is just five degrees off balance, the entire thing becomes a hot mess.”) I took pains to explain the art of the properly hurled insult. I bemoaned the dudes, who I judged as duds. Most of all, I wanted to strangle Emma Roberts every time she appeared on screen.
The one thing I did not do in the review was give the show the considerable amount of leeway it was due as a pilot, albeit an overly bloated one. However, I kept watching the show and it improved, first by degrees, then by leaps and bounds. Keke Palmer carried the show. The plots became twistier and funnier. The Chanels started to crack me up on the regular. Murphy actually understood how to use Nasim Pedrad! Niecy Nash‘s character didn’t die! And Roberts dialed it back down.
By the end of the season, I would’ve given the show a solid B+/A-. So yes, I was wrong.
Series 2 debuted last night, and it’s obvious that Ryan Murphy and I have finally settled into an open relationship that works for us. His razor sharp observations about the culture keep me watching even when he gets excessive – which as you all know, happens a lot. But would we really want a Ryan Murphy who wasn’t prone to excess? Don’t we have enough serious-for-the-sake-of-being-serious shows? Exploring the limited series and anthology formats have freed Murphy from the expectations of creating strong narratives that last for five seasons (which is NOT his strong suit), so he can focus on camp and satire. We don’t watch Scream Queens for moral uplift (oh hai, This Is Us! I can’t even).
Did it all work for the season 2 premiere of Scream Queens? The answer is pretty promising. Although the show seemed to wrap up season 1’s loose ends with a series of pretty bows, the bows were unraveled in the most entertaining way possible. The Chanels were freed from captivity after a confession and a popular Netflix series: Entrap a Kappa Kappa: Murder on Sorority Row. (Here Murphy demonstrates yet again that he understands the zeitgeist better than anyone else on TV. There’s an unacknowledged dark side to the True Crime narratives that people are obsessed with, which is precisely what Murphy was able to convey with his refreshing examination of the OJ Simpson trial. Making a Murderer is every bit as manipulative as any network drama.)
Dean Munsch, fresh off reforming feminism, is ready to fix American health care, this time by taking over a haunted hospital. This setting provides Scream Queens with plenty of ghoulish opportunities. Lea Michelle‘s Hester was carted off in a Dr. Lecter straight jacket. The Chanels are attending medical school, where they are supervised by Kristie Alley‘s mean Nurse Hoeffel. Zayday is a doctor, squaring off with the vain, Dr. Brock Holt (John Stamos-still hot) and Dr. Cassidy Cascade (Jakob from Twilight). The hospital treats people with as many wacky maladies as possible, which should allow the show plenty of leeway for murder and mayhem. Speaking of murder, there’s a horned villain on the premises.
Plenty of characters from the first season will be turning up again. Is it realistic to put them all within the medical industry? Well… no. And also yes. As we learned last night, “With the power of the internet, anyone can be an M.D.” (There’s another exaggerated-but-not-totally-false claim about our culture.) It would be easy to criticize the show for being all bark and no bite this time around, which one reviewer claimed today. As someone who would rather watch the show build up to the bites (and screams), rather than suffer through another 2-hour premiere that immediately gets recalibrated in future episodes, I disagree.
What did you think of the season 2 premiere? Did you like the series premier better? Should the show have been canceled? Who’s the horned murderer?
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