by Emily Hussey
At first glance, it is easy to be offended by Ryan Murphy’s new show Scream Queens. In fact, the show stirred up controversy before it even premiered. The plot features girls in a fake sorority called Kappa Kappa Tau. They refer to themselves “Kappas.” There problem with this is that there is, in fact, a really sorority called Kappa Kappa Gamma whose girls actually call themselves “Kappas.” Scream Queens dances on the line of permissibility; those who are apart of Kappa Kappa Gamma definitely do not want to be associated with a show that propagates and exacerbates a negative connotation about sororities to the point of hilarity.
To preface, it is important to note that Ryan Murphy is the creator of many successful shows, including Glee and American Horror Story. These shows have a pattern of continuously playing with aspects of shock factor and spectacle; however, Scream Queens is a whole different genre. There have been two episodes of Scream Queens so far. The 90-minute pilot episode was funny, but the second episode had me doubled over laughing. It is obvious, blatant satire. The show’s goal is to purposely offend everyone who watches it. Critics of the show have called it racist and misogynistic and, on the surface, it undoubtedly is. But if you get past the surface-level shock, you will realize that Murphy brilliantly intensifies the stereotype of every character to the point of ridiculousness in order to craft a message poking fun at today’s perceived society.
The satire is evident by examining some of the main characters. Chanel, the president of Kappa Kappa Tau, is an icy, selfish queen bee with no self-respect. Her boy toy, Chad, is an arrogant imbecile who flourishes on his popularity and sex. Chanel’s nemesis is Grace, the archetypal perky, innocent blonde who wants to save the world – in this case, change Kappa Kappa Tau for the better. These tired, one-dimensional characters are intentional. They were not crafted for authenticity’s sake, but rather to highlight the absurdity of these common stereotypes.
Scream Queens also satirizes the behaviors of Generation Y. We see this in the first episode when Ariana Grande’s character, Chanel #2, live-tweets her own murder. Though bloody, the murder scenes are not scary, but rather downright comical. Clearly, the show is not meant to be taken seriously. A fan of Scream Queens or not, it should not be something we take offense to. We should realize that the propagation of offensive stereotypes is an intentional satirical technique, not an act of disrespect. Instead of being angry at this show with blatant stereotypes, we should be angry with the media that subtly integrates harmful stereotypes under the façade of three-dimensional, complex characters.