“Scream Queens” is a new slasher drama TV series on Fox. It’s about a sorority with a sordid past, and a masked killer in a cheesy red devil costume that is picking off the girls one by one.
This review covers Scream Queens Episodes 1 and 2.
Our tale begins in 1995, as a sorority sister with blood slicked hands seeks help from her housemates during a huge house party. In a palatial upstairs bathroom, a pledge has given birth in the bathtub.
Unwilling to help her out of the house due to her bloody disheveled state, out of fear that it will bring the mood of the party down, the ladies of Kappa Kappa Tau leave the new mother in her pool of blood. After all, the DJ is playing TLC’s “Waterfalls” and the girls need to dance!
“We’ll be back after this song. Give the baby a Mojito to quiet it down.”
Afterwards, the pledge is dead in the tub and the sisters have a baby on their hands.
In present day 2015, we meet the monstrous clique that runs Kappa.
There’s sorority head Chanel Oberlin (Emma Roberts) and her minions, Chanel # 2 (Ariana Grande), #3 (Billie Lourd) and #5 (Abigail Breslin). They spend their days torturing house maid Miss Bean and roaming the halls of their endlessly vast grey and cream mansion.
Chanel is brought before Dean Cathy Munsch ( Jamie Lee Curtis), who despises everything Kappa Kappa Tau stands for. We learn that Kappa is associated with alcoholism, prescription pill addiction, racism and bestiality. Impressive!
In flashback, we see a cowed, plain Chanel berated by former sorority head Melissa. She is kicked out, just before Melissa is hideously burned by hydrochloric acid loaded into a spray tan gun. As poor bitchy Melissa writhes in agony on the floor, she sees a crimson devil in a cape watching her and screams.
Back in the present, Dean Cathy Munsch threatens to revoke Kappa’s charter until a lawyer for the sorority suddenly appears. She is Gigi, the president of the national chapter of KKT. Gigi dismisses Chanel and then reaches a secret agreement with the Dean.
Meet our Final Girl, Grace Gardner (Skyler Samuels). She’s being driven to the freshman dorms by her father Wes (Oliver Hudson), who begs her not to join a sorority. She can’t remember her late mother, but holds on to a pin she used to wear. They tearfully part ways. Enter Zayday Williams (Keke Palmer) , Grace’s brash and ambitious new roomie. They eat. They bond. They talk about Zayday’s rise to becoming the first black woman President of the United States. Grace talks her new friend into rushing Kappa.
After dark, Grace stands in the front yard of the white marble Kappa house when she notices a tall figure in a gleaming red devil costume lurking in the trees. She approaches and the figure flees with a flap of its lengthy cape.
At the sorority mixer, Gigi and the Dean announce that Kappa Kappa Tau will now accept anyone who wishes to become a sister. The doors are open to the public! The Chanels are horrified. We meet the pledge class of 2015: Hester Ulrich aka Neckbrace, Deaf Taylor Swift, Predatory Lez, The Candle Blogger, Zayday and Grace.
The following day, Chanel #1 pays a visit to her moronic boyfriend Chad Radwell (Glen Powell) and his best buddy Boone (Nick Jonas), who are hitting golf balls across campus at a group of environmental rights students. Chad breaks up with Chanel.
At the local coffee shop, Chanel recruits housekeeper Ms. Bean in a plot to scare the unwanted pledges off by dunking Ms. Bean’s face in a deep fryer that will be turned off. Grace meets barista and investigative journalist Pete, who warns her off rushing Kappa House.
Hell Week begins as the sisters uncover a collage of their eyeless faces in Ms. Bean’s room.
A kitchen confrontation between Oberlin and Bean ends predictably with a dunk in scalding hot oil as the maid’s face is burnt off. She grabs at her melting visage while the girls scream in horror. Chanel bribes Grace and the others into keeping quiet and storing the body in a walk in freezer. Along the way, they are watched by Pete from the bushes.
Cathy Munsch smokes a joint with her secret lover Chad Radwell, whom she is blackmailing due to his academic failures. We learn that Cathy was once an anti-establishment protester and now laments being the authority she railed against. Chad tells her he loves her. Awwww!
Pete reveals that he knows about the dead body of the maid while having dinner with Grace. She tells him she only joined Kappa to be closer to her mom. Pete wants to see the body as step one of tearing down the Chanels. As the pair near the freezer, Chanel and Chad show up because Chad is turned on by death. The freezer is empty! Bean lives!
Back at the KKT house, Chanel says a prayer to Odin as part of a blood oath to secrecy with her minions. Chanel #2 decides to leave the sorority, but she’s too late as The Red Devil shows up and texts: “I’m going to kill you now” while standing face-to-face with his victim. She texts back “Wait…whaaaaaaat?” before he stabs her to death.
Chanel O. thinks Ms. Bean is murdering out of revenge. The girls leave their fallen sister on her bedroom floor and prepare to haze the pledges.
Grace and Zayday take a stand against hazing, which prompts the Kappa Queen to invite Grace out for coffee and offer her the role of Chanel #6. Grace refuses and walks off.
Zayday, Deaf Taylor Swift, Neckbrace, Predatory Lez and Candle Blogger are buried up to their necks in Kappa’s lawn. Let the Sexy Gopher Whore Challenge begin. It isn’t long before a certain devil shows up on a riding mower and decapitates Deaf Taylor. Surprisingly, he leaves the rest of the buried pledges alive.
Dean Munsch must now deal with the press and play down reports of a serial killer. A police detective shows up and confines the girls to the sorority house. While this conversation is going on, Chanel #2 is still laying on the carpet upstairs, quite dead. Neckbrace stumbles upon the Chanels discussing how to get rid of her and offers methods to forensically destroy the corpse.
It’s back to the meat locker with #2.
Officer Denise Hemphill, a security guard with no firearm, is called in to watch the girls.
While looking for cleaning supplies, Grace explores the basement. As she moves past a darkened window, the Red Devil watches her go by. She finds a locked and hidden door that only the president of KKT has the key to. She visits Pete and relays this information before they kiss deeply, surprising both of them. They agree to break the lock.
The Dean sits down with concerned parent Wes and attempts to seduce him. He wants to pull Grace out of school. He agrees not to if he gets a teaching job on campus.
Grace breaks into the locked room. It contains the belongings of the dead Kappa sister who had the baby and the bloodstained tub she died in. During this scene, Grace’s t-shirt reads Bien Fait, or “well done.” It is used in the French language sarcastically to mock someone who has done something foolish and face consequences. It basically means, “You deserved it.”
Chanel appears and describes the dark events of yesteryear.
In the past, we see the girls of 1995 standing over the tub in confusion until Cathy Munsch comes in and takes charge of the cover up. She is accompanied by Ms. Bean.
“What happened to the baby?” Grace wonders aloud as Chanel exits.
Chad Radwell has loud sex with Chanel in her scary large bedroom. He blurts out “Mmmm, I’d love to have sex with your corpse” and the romance is over. She kicks him out.
Back at the frat house, Chad and his buddy Boone cuddle in bed together because Boone has nightmares, sleeps with a stuffed animal and is gay. Chad isn’t, so there can’t be any hanky panky.
Chanel barges in and is horrified. Chad then reverse breaks up with her. Ye Gods!
Pete, meanwhile, breaks into the Dean’s office looking for files on the 1995 house party. He uncovers a list of names before being knocked out by the Red Devil. He is found hanging from a pillar alive and wearing a sign reading MYOB (Mind your own business).
Back in Pete’s room, Grace discovers a Red Devil costume in his closet. He’s the college football team mascot, he explains. She flees anyway.
At the coffee shop, Chanel is tempted to out Boone, but he says he’ll do it himself and then rush Kappa as the first male student to join a sorority. Chanel agrees to this idea.
Denise Hemphill is stationed out front of the house with her partner Shondelle. So is Wes Gardner in his SUV. Gigi hops into his car as he is listening to a 1995 party mix. She flirts and they go for coffee as Cathy watches from the shadows.
Inside KKT, Chanel critiques the pledge’s bodies with a marker. She goes upstairs to get a white eyeliner pencil to write on Zayday when she is attacked by the Red Devil. Hearing screams, Denise rushes in. The girls discover the words “Sluts Will Die” painted on the wall.
Outside, the Devil kills Shondelle. Hemphill flees in terror after shoving her dead partner out of the car. At the frat house, Boone is lifting weights when the Devil walks in. “Am I supposed to be scared?” he asks. Shortly after his frat bros find Boone with his throat slit in a gathering of candles.
As the pledges of Kappa Kappa Tau prepare to drink Chanel’s dirty hand rinse water from a glass as the final part of hazing, Chad and Denise enter to inform them that Boone is dead.
At the local morgue, the costumed killer pulls out a corpse drawer to reveal Boone, who opens his eyes and removes his fake neck wound.
“What took you so long?”
Apparently they don’t test for vital signs or the rigidity of bodies at this morgue.
The characters populating Kappa Kappa Tau are either too shallow and caustic to endure for more than a few minutes, or colorless and bland, like pop singer Ariana Grande. Emma Robert’s evil sorority queen Chanel Oberlin spouts politically incorrect racist and ethnic slurs, but with Donald Trump’s bombastic rants currently in the spotlight, it seems a little undercut by real life.
“Scream Queens” is not without its rewards. Jamie Lee Curtis is wonderful, and lead actress Skyler Samuels as Grace plays a funny and believable heroine. Shows like this need time to develop, so I’m gonna stick with it.