Premieres: Sept. 22 at 8pm
Airs: Tuesdays at 9pm
Who’s In It? Jamie Lee Curtis, Emma Roberts, Lea Michele, Keke Palmer, Oliver Hudson, Diego Boneta, Ariana Grande, Nick Jonas
Scream Queens co-creator Ryan Murphy says the idea for this deliciously campy dramedy sprung from his and his creative partner Brad Falchuk’s love of classic horror films and their American Horror Story ingénue Roberts.
“When we were doing Coven, we were talking about how much we loved writing the comedy of that — particularly Emma’s stuff,” he says. “Two years later, we were talking about ‘What if we do something that’s a little more network-oriented, but keeps that horror vibe?’ Brad and I were both obsessed with Halloween, so we talked about, ‘What if it’s sort of Halloween meets Heathers?’ From that came Scream Queens.”
The series opens with a flashback to a 1995 murder at the Kappa Kappa Tau sorority house. Twenty years later, someone appears to be, er, dead set on avenging the crime.
Roberts plays the sorority’s fashion- and power-obsessed president Chanel Oberlin, who is none too pleased with the altruistic changes being foisted upon her kingdom by the school’s dean, Cathy Munsch. Munsch, played by first lady of horror Jamie Lee Curtis, is disgusted with the sorority system and plans to reinvent it — and herself — whatever the cost.
“You want to see her kick ass,” says Murphy of his “new obsession” Curtis, the iconic Laurie Strode of his beloved Halloween. “In one scene we have her fighting three killers.” But Murphy also wanted to free Curtis of the standard horror stuff. “I wanted to see Jamie Lee Curtis have a sex scene with an 18-year-old — so I wrote it,” he laughs.
Curtis is equally complimentary.
“As someone who has spent her life in horror films that honestly weren’t written that well, I want to honor the fact that [Scream Queens] is written so beautifully,” she says. “In Episode 2, there is a wordless homage that is my tipping my hat to all you horror lovers out there.”
As for Michele’s hapless, neck-braced Hester, the thoroughly game actress says, “Ryan called me last October when we were doing the last season of Glee and said, ‘New show, Jamie Lee Curtis, neck brace, are you in?’ And I was like, ‘Sure!’”
Now it’s just a matter of staying there, since this is a show about a serial killer, after all. Should ensuing seasons happen, says Murphy, “Survivors go on to a different location. Characters that you have hopefully grown to love — many of them will continue. And many will not. Which is sort of the fun of the show — who will live and who will die. … I’m already getting many, many bribes.”
Scream Queens premieres Sept. 22 at 8/7CT on FOX and airs Tuesdays at 9pm.