Haute 100 LA: Ryan Murphy Marries Horror and Pop in ‘Scream Queens’

Image Credit: Steve Dietl/Fox
Image Credit: Steve Dietl/Fox

Ryan Murphy has had great success in the medium of television; his FX horror series American Horror Story and his Fox musical drama Glee have generated massive audiences and critical acclaim. But one can’t help but note how wildly different the two series are. Though they are both envelope pushing, they push the envelope in divergent manners. AHS introduces a mini-series format that delivers some of the most gut-wrenching and disturbing horror sequences that TV has ever hosted. Glee, on the other hand, uses music as the central theme to bring characters of diverse race, class, and sexual orientation to the masses. Aside from gasp-worthy moments, there is very little in the wake of commonalities between the two series.

So what does Murphy do after achieving such huge success with two series on opposing ends of the family friendly spectrum? He creates a new series that arguably marries the two aesthetics of the shows. In September, Murphy will premiere his new series Scream Queens on Fox. The show will marry the horror driven plot of AHS and utilize the musical format and introduce the top 40 musical guest stars that Glee is famous for.

Working along with his Glee co-creators Brad Falchuk and Ian Brenna, the show will star AHS alum Skyler Samuels, Emma Roberts, Glee star Lea Michele, and Hollywood legend Jamie Lee Curtis.

The story will take place at the fictional Wallace University in the present day but is kicked off by events 20 years earlier when a mysterious murderer targeted members of the Kappa Kappa Taus sorority. In the present, the killer and/or copycat, disguises himself in the University Mascot’s Devil costume. Aside from the killing, the show introduces some topical issues in the form of Curtis’s character, the sorority hating Dean Cathy Munsch, who wants Kappa Kappa Taus to decrease its membership standards and accept all pledges. President Chanel Oberlin, played by Roberts, takes issue with this notion and lashes out, performing grueling acts of hazing. On the receiving end of said hazing will be the show’s heroine Grace, portrayed by Skyler Samuels.

Ryan Murphy told EW that the show pays homage to the slasher films of the ‘80s and ‘90s while commenting on the Greek System in universities and the issues of racism surrounding them: “Jamie Lee plays the dean of the school who has had it up to here with these bitches in the sorority. She’s the dean of students who wants to change the system. She wants to stop the racist status quo that many of the houses in her university have fallen into. She’s a leader and a crusader and might have to shutdown the system by literally killing them all.”

Scream Queens will follow the single season narrative of AHS, but unlike AHS the characters who survive might be seen in future seasons. Every episode will feature a major character getting murdered bringing us closer to the true identity of the killer.

The show is being described as something akin to Halloween meets Mean Girls, and Murphy infuses his love of Scream and the films of Wes Craven, with Samuels’ Grace sharing characteristics to Scream’s heroine Sidney Prescott, played by Neve Campbell.