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Scream Queens Combines Mean Girls and Murder

Aug 19, 2015

By: Lynn Barker

Combine the original scream queen from the Halloween films Jamie Lee Curtis with some successful up-and-coming young actresses like Emma Roberts, “Glee”’s Lea Michele, Abigail Breslin, Skyler Samuels and Keke Palmer and FOX TV dishes out a combo of humor, Mean Girls, the classic Clueless and every sorority girl murder movie you’ve ever seen to give us the new show “Scream Queens” starting September 22nd on FOX.

Keke Palmer, Lea Michele and Emma RobertsKeke Palmer, Lea Michele and Emma RobertsCourtesy of FOX

These “sisters” have a 20-year-old murder mystery to solve while coping with a current killer named The Red Devil. To top it off, the queen bees, headed by Chanel (Emma Roberts) are forced by their school’s Dean Munsch (Jamie Lee Curtis) to allow just any girl who wants to be in their sorority to pledge. An instant hate-fest is launched.

Abigail Breslin and Skyler SamuelsAbigail Breslin and Skyler SamuelsCourtesy of FOX

Emma Roberts’ Chanel character is based on a sorority manifesto e-mail out of the U. of Maryland that was really full of hate. It was a racist and homophobic rant. The girl writing it resigned and apologized but hey, what a great character to love to hate in the show.

After a great reception at the recent Teen Choice Awards, the cast of FOX TV’s “Scream Queens” is off to a great start to launch a show that will appeal to tweens, teens and hey, moms who loved those old Jamie Lee scare fests!

Ariana Grande (in Bkg.) guest starsAriana Grande (in Bkg.) guest starsCourtesy of FOX

Check out what Jamie Lee and show creator Ryan Murphy (“Glee”, “American Horror Story”) had to share about the new show.

Anyone could be the killer.

  • Jamie Lee: Every single actor in every single scene at some point is given one direction, which is: ‘OK, now do the scene as if you’re the killer so that they actually have a bank of interpretations where you can then go back and thread the whole show together and would actually knit the killer’s vest, with each character. I’m not the only person who’s been given that direction. Every actor on the show has which also keeps you on your toes and guessing.

Pledging ceremonyPledging ceremonyCourtesy of FOX

Who is the next corpse? The stars don’t know!

  • Jamie Lee: We are reading these scripts every week blind so you also have this interesting dynamic, which is, if we're all still in an episode, that you're kind of bonded together as the survivors. There's also a little bit of this self-preservation. And so it's kind of a funny dynamic to have a sorority house doing that and a group of actresses doing that.

Jamie Lee Curtis as Dean MunschJamie Lee Curtis as Dean MunschCourtesy of FOX

Even Mean Girls can bond in friendship.

  • Jamie Lee: (The show is) telling it like it is right now and to be honest, the way it is right now (between women) is challenging. The show is going to expose that and create a dialogue. Not to get heavy. It’s super funny! But it will ask the question, and it’s an important question to be asked in today’s society. This is going to expose that in a very big way.

No show without Jamie Lee.

  • Ryan Murphy: We simply told her what the story was and we just led with our love and passion for her. We said in the meeting, 'And if you don't do it, we're not going to do the show.

Jamie Lee Curtis and show creator Ryan MurphyJamie Lee Curtis and show creator Ryan MurphyCourtesy of FOX

Lots of cartoon violence. Not so much sex.

  • Ryan: I think “Scream Queens” has a much more satirical, cartoonish quality to the attacks than “American Horror Story”, which is much more sexualized and darker. We have had healthy discussions with broadcast standards, shockingly more about the language. It's slang, It's trying to really reflect how people talk. Girls talk about their sexuality.

OMG! Who is dead now?OMG! Who is dead now?Courtesy of FOX

Keke Palmer (plays Zayday) gushes like a fangirl.

  • Keke: I could never have imagined I would be doing a TV show with (Jamie Lee). I grew up watching every last one of the Halloweens, my sister and I, that's a fact. We love her. Ride or die for Jamie Lee. So when I found out I was going to be doing a show with her, it was absolutely unbelievable. And she is cool as h**l, I'll tell you that.

Skyler Samuels, Keke and LeaSkyler Samuels, Keke and LeaCourtesy of FOX

Emma Roberts' Chanel character isn't all bad.

  • Ryan: She's pretending to be something that she's not and part of the fun of that character is peeling away those layers as we go on and see the vulnerabilities that she has and explain, also, why is she this way. She obviously has had a long and storied background with the sorority.

Everyone wears a mask.

  • Jamie Lee: What people really are, which is inherently dark, inherently unhappy and frustrated human beings who are trying so desperately to hold it together (will be exposed). Everything that you think about every single one of these characters, you don't know s**t about anything because everyone here is wearing masks and this show peels off masks each week and it's brilliant.

There are fratboys too! Nick Jonas!

  • Ryan: There's also a scream kings element to it. There's a golfing fraternity, the Dickie Dollar Scholars." “Scream Queens” will begin exploring the university's frat life, which includes star Nick Jonas, in the second episode.

Nick Jonas as a fratboy with...Kermie.Nick Jonas as a fratboy with.. Kermie.Courtesy of FOX

Jamie Lee stabs herself with pins to keep from blowing a scene with laughter.

  • Jamie Lee: Kevin Kline to this day doesn't speak to me because I ruined more great takes from him on A Fish Called Wanda. I don't care what's happening, whatever Niecy Nash is throwing at me, I am squeezing a pushpin between my fingers to make it hurt really bad so that I will not laugh and that is a testament to the writing.

Scream Queens PosterScream Queens PosterCourtesy of FOX

“Scream Queens” premieres with a two-hour episode on Tuesday, Sept. 22 at 8 p.m. ET on FOX.