This Scream Queens review contains spoilers.
Scream Queens: Season 1, Episode 5
Before I began watching Scream Queens I knew relatively little about Emma Roberts. I mean, I consume media and exist in the world, so I know that her dad is Eric Roberts which makes her aunt Julia Roberts. I also know that she was engaged to Evan Peters (another Falchuk and Murphy casting favorite) and that one time she beat him up and went to jail for it. Why anyone would be foolhardy enough to cross the spawn of Eric Roberts is beyond my actual comprehension.
Her skills as an actress I had no opinion of, being mostly too old to have really watched her come of her age in the cinema. I’ve got to say, thus far, she is knocking it out of the park (BASEBALL ANALOGY! SPORTS!) with her portrayal of Scream Queens HBIC Chanel Oberlin. In a show that is striking in its unique tone, a mixture of comedy, horror, pastiche, and camp, Roberts has complete control over the reins (NOW I AM USING HORSES! THAT IS STILL KIND OF SPORTS?!).
What could be easily be played off as another iteration of Regina George (or, kicking it old school, Heather) Roberts turns into something nuanced and as deliciously dark as the script intends. This week, Chanel was arrested for the murder of KKT’s maid — a crime she is (to our knowledge) fully guilty of committing. Her panic over the arrest isn’t about her actual fate, it’s about her role as sorority president and the fate of her pumpkin patch party. She’s callous and callow and so much fun to watch.
Roberts should be giving everyone else lessons. The show remains totally engaging — I’m far more involved in it than I have been in any other Murphy/Falchuk venture — and the script itself is cohesive. But the acting is all over the place. Does Oliver Hudson think this is a Naked Gun movie? What is he even doing with his hammy gestures and overt camera-winking? Then there’s Gigi who, appropriately enough, seems to be in a very special episode of Melrose Place. The final minutes of the episode should have induced gasps — but because of how Gigi’s story has been framed thus far, it was more of a “duh” moment.
But speaking of final moments — for all my nattering away, I am hooked. I have fan theories. I’m considering taking to Tumblr (that’s how you know it’s serious). I invoke the Pretty Little Liars comparison almost weekly, but it’s never been more true. This is a juicy mystery and if it can be sustained without idiotic tweaking for the duration of the season I will be ever so pleased and ever so surprised. The only thing that could please me more would be if the show figured out its race problem.
Other media sites have covered this in depth with great success, so I’ll just say this: I don’t care if you are the funniest show on television today (and this show could be). If you continue to turn your black characters into stereotypes you’re no longer a funny show — you’re just a racist one. There’s meta-humor (examine all the horror references this week, the nod to The Silence of the Lambs with the Red Devil’s Den, the Shining maze) and then there’s that one guy who thinks it’s okay to make jokes about black people because he’s got black friends. It is. Never. Okay. Show: You are better than this!