2015 has been a helluva year for TV. First we saw the TV resurrection of Wes Craven's Scream franchise as it took on a television format for MTV. And then in the fall, we witnessed American Horror Story and Glee co-creator, Ryan Murphy, combine the essence of his two shows for his newest anthology series, Scream Queens. For this article, there can only be one winner and, unfortunately, one loser. For this matchup, I'll be looking at three things: The Cast(s), The story, and The overall reception. At the end of each round, a winner will be selected. Best two out of three takes the cake. Let's take a look:
1) The Casts
Ryan Murphy really went above and beyond for Scream Queens, bringing together Emma Roberts, Ariana Grande, Nick Jonas, Lea Michele, and reigning Scream Queen herself, Jamie-Lee Curtis. Murphy's team rounded up the best that young Hollywood has to offer especially with Emma Roberts who worked with Murphy recently on three installments of American Horror Story. Her most prominent role, during season 3 Coven, became the breakout scene-stealer of the entire season. Many of the other castmates, including Abigail Breslin, Niecy Nash, Nasim Pedrad, Keke Palmer, and Carrie Fisher's daughter, Billie Lourd, were all plucked ripe from their own successes elsewhere.
MTV really went the opposite direction when lining up stars for their take on the classic slasher franchise. Many of the cast were fresh faces with little experience in either TV or film, with the exception of Bella Thorne whose time on the show may have been brief, but it was oh so memorable. The lack of acting credits to their resumes only made it that much better when all of their characters were introduced to the audience. Although they didn't have the star power of Emma Roberts and Jamie-Lee Curtis, they managed to pull the first season off spectacularly, rivaling anything Ryan Murphy could've put together.
The Winner: Scream Queens
Although MTV put together an excellent team, Murphy's lure for catching A-list bait and casting them in near perfect roles suited to their distinct performance type, is just too strong to be overcome.
FOX's horror/comedy anthology series' first season follows the story of a college sorority house as it's plagued by a serial killer in a red devil costume. Calling back to the glory days of slasher films, the women of the sorority act in the most foolish and selfish of ways often placing themselves and everyone else in perilous danger. Always meant to be more of a parody of slasher films and horror TV than an actual serious take on the genre, Scream Queens has tackled its mission head-on without any reluctance to stray from that clueless path. In terms of story, there really isn't much of one or one that makes much sense. It's as if Murphy and his team just tossed together cliche after cliche with eye-rolling performances and scripts.
I think for most people, we were expecting MTV's Scream to be the foolish, irrelevant, annoying cliche that ruined a popular franchise. But it didn't. If anything, it made it better. Scream reinvented the slasher film genre back in the nineties and the tv show has done the same today. Sure, the characters were obvious copycat stereotypes from the original films, but they brought a certain uniqueness to the program that wasn't captured in the films. They made you care about them even if you didn't want to. The first season followed a group of high schoolers whose lived are turned upside down when a YouTube video goes viral, leading to a murder and the exposition of the town's devious past.
The Winner: Scream
Having seen both shows (currently still watching Scream Queens) the winner of this section became obvious before the first episode of Scream Queens was even over. The slapstick schtick that Murphy is presenting the world with his new show grows very old very fast. If the show is renewed for a second season, I recommend he tones it down a bit on the necessity of cliches and terrible scripts.
The Tie-Breaker: Overall Reception
Rotten Tomatoes gave the first season of Scream Queens a 58/100. Citing:
"Too tastless for mainstream viewers and too silly for horror enthusiasts, Scream Queens fails to satisfy."
However, IGN's Terri Schwartz gave the series a 9.7/10. She stated:
"Ryan Murphy has worked his TV magic again with a killer start to Scream Queens. From the acting to the costuming to the writing, everything about this concept and execution works. Scream Queens is as funny and self-aware as it needs to be to not bore audiences, but also offers up enough mystery and intrigue to keep even the biggest skeptic entertained."
My person score on a scale of 1-10: 4
Rotten Tomatoes gave Scream a 48/100 citing:
"Lacking truly compelling characters or scenarios, Scream is formed to trade too heavily on nostalgia for its big-screen predecessors in the franchise."
David Hinkley of the New York Daily News wrote in contrast to Rotten Tomatoes:
"Happily, Scream maintains a sense of humor, reinforced with snappy, self-aware pop culture dialogue."
My personal score on a scale of 1-10: 5
And The Winner Is . . . . . . . . . .
Had this matchup been made in a universe where both shows were still in their early days, Scream Queens may have come out on top. In the end, it was very close and not because of their merits, but because of their many faults. Both shows, including our winner here, started out and steadily maintained a call to meager amounts of stupidity. In the end, it was Scream's ability to turn it around in the end and finish with a mystery that still blows my mind. I can't wait to see more, and hopefully better, twists and turns from the series when it returns to MTV for season 2 in 2016.
Scream Queens loss can be explained pretty easily. At this time, having seen every episode so far, I lament having to watch another and I don't believe it's going to get any better anytime soon. It's steady drop in viewers each week lead me to guess the rest of the audience doesn't believe it either.