What Happened to Scream Queens?

By Austin Keller

     Ryan Murphy has an excellent track record of making ground-breaking television programs. With Nip/Tuck, Glee and American Horror Story all being excellent (at least sometimes), it seems Murphy could not create a simply decent show. Unfortunately, this is not the case with his latest offering, Scream Queens. Sure, the show isn’t vying for Emmy awards, and it definitely shouldn’t be taken seriously, but you would think tuning in wouldn’t feel like a chore.

     Scream Queens does deserve some credit, don’t get me wrong. The masterful blend of horror and comedy does feel fresh to network television, the cast is bleeding with stars and the show does provide genuine laughs and tense moments. The show is so outlandish that you can’t help but laugh at character’s obliviousness to almost any given situation. But what gives?


     The problem with Scream Queens is that every episode feels the same. I described the series as a “must-watch” after the first two episodes, which were brash and dark, and established plenty of mysteries for the season to solve. Seven episodes later, and scant mysteries have been solved. The same stark humor is used consistently, and the outlandish moments are not as shocking as they used to be. It feels as though the core question (Who is the Red Devil?) is dragging on. There have been points where I even wanted to throw my TV out the window when the characters are being so obviously negligent.

     Every episode seems formulaic to me. Introduction to some sub-plot for the episode, further advancement of the “main-plot,” and a death. Every episode should feel different. Characters’ demises should not feel forced, they should feel essential to the plot. The humor, once stark, is now consistent. How many jokes about crotches and being a slut can be made in one episode? Seemingly endless, according to this show.

     If I didn’t watch Scream Queens with a group of friends, there is a solid chance I would not tune in every week. I can easily go on Twitter to get a sense of everything solved, who died and any other major moment. Tuning in shouldn’t feel like a chore, I should want to watch. As ratings suffer, this could be a swing and a miss for Ryan Murphy. Not to feel bad though, American Horror Story is killing it this season, and his upcoming show American Crime Story seems promising.

     If Fox does happen to renew this show, as it seems possible due to Murphy already having a second season planned and a “major male pop star” allegedly joining its already impressive cast, the anthology series had better remove all stakes and radically reinvent itself to count me in as a viewer. As the first season comes down to its final four episodes, the reveals are bound to be plentiful and rapid-paced. Maybe Scream Queens will stick the landing, and the ending can redeem the mediocre season. Whodunit? We’ll soon find out.