I’ve been in a bit of a TV geek wonderland for the last week, attending the 2016 Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour in Pasadena, Calif. I’ve gotten to attend a panel with Winnie Holzman, the creator of my so-called favourite show of all-time and then ask about my so-called favourite show of all-time. I’ve gotten to watch the first new episode of The X Files with the cast of The X Files, including, yes, Gillian Freakin’ Anderson. I’ve gotten to go to the set of Supergirl and talk with the female showrunner about Lexi Alexander and the future of female directors on the show. I’ve basically gotten to do so many amazing, TV-related things that it’s hard to believe I haven’t been dreaming this whole time, zonked out after a night of falling asleep with the TV on and one too many BBQ chips in my belly. But, and I know it’s hard to believe, but I don’t think I’ve been as excited for any of it as I was this morning learning the news that Scream Queens had been renewed Season 2.
Listen, you can make fun of me and the show all you want, seeing as it as a superficial, horror-adjacent Ryan Murphy show with a overly sassy blonde lead. But you know what? All those elements that you think are lame about Scream Queens are what make it one of the most watchable, relatable shows on TV for me.
Before Scream Queens came around, I basically only had one type of horror show to watch on TV and that was the darkly lit, darkly written drama with, yes, some female characters, but none that I could really latch on to personally. I’m talking about the Bates Motels and Penny Dreadfuls and Hannibals of the world, all of which are great shows in their own right and doing their own positive things for keeping the genre on television, but just not for me. Sure, I had the AHS installments and their obsession with Jessica Lange, but even the lightest of those seasons, my fave Coven, still favoured the darkness, both in terms of storyline and aesthetic. And here I was, craving some light-hearted, yet horrifying fun with a bright colour palette and maybe, just maybe, some female characters who don’t fit into the broody, moody, stereotypical horror mold. (Hey, we need witchy women, but we also need spooky bitches too!)
I thought I might have my new show when I found out (at a previous TCA, natch) that ABC Family was working on a series with Jamie Lee Curtis, but that fell through. And then after Coven‘s pseudo journey into girly camp, AHS went back to more straight-forward horror (Lana Del Rey numbers, aside) with Freak Show. For a while, I was left feeling as though I’d only find my girly horror fix at the movies (see: The Voices, The Final Girls). But then, down from the bloody and glittery heavens, came Scream Queens.
Admittedly, I was a bit unsure about Scream Queens when it was first announced, assuming it would be too good to be true. I wasn’t even completely sold when I heard that they were getting classic scream queen Curtis and modern scream queen Emma Roberts to play the leads. Listen, I even had a hard time believing Abigail Breslin when she told me that I was going to love the series because it was “Heathers with murder.” But then I watched the two-hour series premiere in September. And then I continued to watch every single episode thereafter live, or as close to live as I could get.
I will admit that while I used to be a full-time TV critic, since I’ve become a freelancer, I’ve sort of abandoned the “Watch everything!” mentality and chosen to focus my attentions, personally and professionally, only on series I give a damn about. And that list of series to give a damn about has become smaller and smaller over time, with rarely any series getting a live commitment from moi and likely being relegated to the “Weekend Watch” or even the “Eventual Binge That May or May Not Actually Happen.” But with Scream Queens, I couldn’t miss a week. And it was because it was a perfect show for me, finally giving me, and girls like me, a perfect melding of horror and dark comedy and femininity on a week-to-week basis.
I know that some of Scream Queens’ jokes (and even episodes) weren’t perfect. I know that the death count was always changing, as characters went from obviously dead to seriously alive within a week. I know that some of the performances were way over-the-top and not necessarily in the right way. But there were so many other amazing elements going for this show (Emma and Jamie, the equal balance of Charles Manson and Chanel jokes, the simple and irresistible clash between blood red and frosty pink in nearly every frame) that I could forgive its shortcomings. In fact, I found so many things to love and identify with in Scream Queens that I really didn’t see these issues most of the time. (That’s problematic in its own ways, I know, but love is blind, right? It’s why I didn’t realize the fact that there was only one female director on Season 1 and not a single writer on Season 1 until now.)
When I watched what I thought was the series finale of Scream Queens before Christmas, I was kinda depressed, thinking that this show I’d been waiting so long for was getting offed for good because, let’s face it, not many other people were as into the Chanels’ offensively sassy antics and it showed in the lower ratings. I actually wasn’t even sure if I should ask about the show’s future at TCA. But then I got that magical press release in my inbox this morning and the smile on my face grew to the size of Chanel No. 1’s ego.
I will say that I’m a little unsure what to expect from Scream Queens Season 2 given that we know the show is being moved from a college campus (hello, Black Christmas and Sorority Row vibes!) to a hospital, thus following in the exact same footsteps as AHS Season 2. Then again, hearing from FOX Chairman and CEO Dana Walden that they are looking to bring Season 1 characters (not just actors, but characters!) back for the new episodes, maybe this will be a natural continuation of the finale, where we saw Chanel, Chanel No. 3 and Chanel No. 5 end up in an asylum. And also, whenever I think sequels and hospitals in the horror realm, my mind immediately goes to Halloween II, possibly my favourite horror sequel of all-time. Just imagine watching Jamie Lee’s Dean Munsch going full Laurie Strode and running around in a hospital gown with fear in her eyes! Or if they decide to call the show Scream Queens II!
I don’t know when Scream Queens Season 2 will be coming my way again (show is still being developed, after all). But just knowing that it’s still alive is enough to keep me going until next Chanel-O-Ween.
SHE SCREAMS is a monthly series in which Emily Gagne discusses being a girly horror fan.