The main characters of Fox’s Scream Queens are beautiful sorority girls who scathingly take each other down. But really, it’s good for feminism, speaks to a number of issues in our society and, as scream queen bee Jamie Lee Curtis says, “parents are going to love this show.”
“Wendy Wasserstein would love this show,” said Curtis about the late pro-woman playwright, “The show will ask the question about society’s excess with self promotion. … It will expose the good sisterhood stuff and the bad.”
On the show, Curtis plays Dean Munsch, a no-nonsense college authority who locks horns with the campus sorority royal Chanel Oberlin, played by Emma Roberts.
Co-creator Ryan Murphy mentioned during the show’s panel and the TCA Summer Press Tour that one of the inspirations for Chanel’s catty, politically incorrect behavior didn’t just come from the alter ego that Roberts played on American Horror Story: Coven, but he also drew inspiration from a scathing sorority manifesto that made the news at the time when he was breaking story.
“We see her vulnerabilities and why she is the way she is, how she is weak in front of her boyfriend,” said Murphy about Chanel. “What happened with her parents, and why do they allow her to be a mean girl? When will these girls (at the sorority) turn on her?”
Speaking to the feminism on Scream Queens, Murphy explained that the show is about girls banding together to fight off the bad guys — how sisterhood unites. “The girls and young women are more interested in their friendship than the boys,” he says. “Jamie Lee’s character tries to tell them how to navigate the world that they’re in.”
Curtis mentioned that Scream Queens is a “social satire” about “people who say horrible things.”
“The show fillets the behaviors of human beings,” she said. “It shows that people are inherently dark and unhappy.”
Pointing to the Scream Queens actresses onstage with her at TCA — who included Roberts, Lea Michele, Keke Palmer, Nasim Pedrad, Abigail Breslin and Skyler Samuels — Curtis said, “Everything you think about these characters, everyone here is wearing a mask.”
Murphy says that he doesn’t get a lot of pushback from the Fox standards and practices department in regards to Scream Queens’ violent content. “It’s the language of these girls and their empowering sense of sexuality” where he faces the most hurdles during production.
While it’s not uncommon on serial shows to keep their actors in the dark so that the best, most present performance is generated, Curtis says one direction each character is given during episode shoots is “do this scene as if you’re the killer. So that they bank interpretations which can be threaded into the show and knit the killer’s vest.”