Not much to ‘Scream’ about
Still absurd and outrageously contrived, “Scream Queens” oddly continues the story that seemingly ended in the first season’s baffling finale. The new season brings back most of the cast members and a number of exasperating characters—and adds a few more to that confusing, convoluted mess.
The gory slasher-comedy series (ETC, Wednesdays, 4 p.m. and 9 p.m.), created by the folks behind the musical-drama series, “Glee,” introduced a criminally insane girl, Hester Ulrich (Lea Michele), who masterminded the murders of her sorority sisters with a number of conniving cohorts. Dressed as the “Red Devil” mascot, they targeted mean girl Chanel Oberlin (Emma Roberts), her vacuous underlings, and the unscrupulous Dean Munsch (Jamie Lee Curtis).
The show’s first season bizarrely unfolded with the mostly amoral characters attempting to figure out the murder mystery amidst the increasing body count. The revelation that it was Hester all along is a letdown, and harkens back to the days when Lea’s “Glee” character, Rachel Berry, was an ultracompetitive, despicable schemer. It was another Michele showcase, all along.
The dialogue teetered between awkwardly hilarious and cringe-worthy—Hester’s line to a fratboy comes to mind: “Do you think you’re man enough to take me inside the house and attack my crack?”
It was all kinds of weird, this bloody, oft-challenging show. It successfully skewers celebrity culture at one point, but offers facepalm-inducing storytelling, at another. But mostly, there were ridiculous scenarios that could only exist in its own reality. Ad infinitum, ad nauseam.
Now, for Season Two, Hester’s back as a Hannibal Lecter-ish character. Dean Munsch, who now runs a hospital for some strange reason, also works with fellow survivors and social pariahs Chanel and her remaining sidekicks, Chanel #3 (Billie Lourd) and Chanel #5 (Abigail Breslin).
Another serial killer, this time dressed as a green monster, is terrorizing the patients. Together with returning ex-sorority sister Zayday (Keke Palmer), they hesitantly consult Hester on the new, bloodthirsty menace.
The first couple of episodes remind those frustrated with the labyrinthine, needlessly prolonged first season of the show’s flaws and peculiarities. The unceasingly snarky Chanel keeps picking on the still-clueless Chanel #5, accusing her of murdering people even when evidence keeps pointing to her innocence.
It’s irritating, and the addition of man-candies Taylor Lautner and John Stamos, as attractive but similarly confounding doctors, makes little difference.
So, what is the show satirizing this time? It certainly feels like they’re making things up as they go along. It says nothing new, has even less to “scream” about, and sadly, it’s exhausted its bag of macabre and culture-critiquing tricks.