‘Scream Queens’ Premiere: Ariana Grande And Nick Jonas Get Slain…Maybe
The body count at the end of the two-hour premiere episode of Ryan Murphy’s newest TV series, Scream Queens, includes beloved pop stars Ariana Grande and Nick Jonas. Thankfully, it appears that by the end of the episode at least one of them will live to see another day.
Tonally, the series is reminiscent of Glee, with plenty of camp, over-the-top characterizations and characters spitting out snarky, verbose speeches at the speed of light. So if you missed all that from Glee, you’re in for a treat — plus lots and lots of blood.
The episode starts with a scene in the Kappa Kappa Tau sorority house, where a party is interrupted by one of the girls walking up to her sisters with hands covered in blood. When they go upstairs to see the cause of it, they find an angel-faced pledge holding a baby, her pale yellow taffeta gown covered in blood from childbirth.
Grossed out by the sight and wanting to get back to dancing to TLC’s “Waterfalls,” the girls leave the pledge with her bathtub baby and return, only to find that the young mother has since died, while the baby survived. Rather than go to the police, the girls mysteriously decide to get rid of the body. And so the mystery begins!
Twenty years later, it’s Chanel No. 1 (Emma Roberts) who is sorority president now, supported by her minions Chanel No. 2 (Ariana Grande), Chanel No. 3 (Billie Lourd) and Chanel No. 5 (Abigail Breslin), who do No. 1’s every bidding. We immediately get the picture that No. 1 is an abominable person, demonstrated by her calling the house maid, Ms. Bean (Jan Hoag), “White Mammy,” and taunting her with a Gone With The Wind reference that I’m confident these girls wouldn’t ever actually know.
No. 1 is summoned by Dean Munsch (Jamie Lee Curtis), who accuses the sorority president of masterminding a lethal spray tan accident that left the last sorority president dead. Much like in Animal House, the dean has had it and is gunning for Kappa Kappa Tau’s charter. But before she can, president of the chapter, Gigi Caldwell (Nasim Pedrad) shows up to defend the sorority as their lawyer.
However, Gigi agrees with the dean that the sorority needs to change some practices moving forward. It should be noted that her outfit, which is supposed to be ’90s-themed, is actually more accurately described as ’80s, a common confusing of eras that typifies this entire first episode.
Cue the arrival of the innocent “last girl standing,” Grace (Skyler Samuels) whose big blue eyes and angelic curls let you know she’s making it to the final episode. Her hot dad (Oliver Hudson) drops her off at college and we learn through their friendly conversational exposition that her mom is dead. Ooh — bathtub baby, maybe? Dad is adamant that Grace not join a sorority, but she wants to follow in her dead mom’s footsteps, hopefully not all the way to a bloody bathtub.
Grace meets her roommate and instant bestie, Zayday (Keke Palmer), and they both decide to rush. On Grace’s way inside, she spots the Red Devil character we will all come to know and fear. At Kappa Kappa Tau’s side-boob mixer, Dean Munch and Gigi announce that anyone can now pledge the sorority.
All the Stepford Wife clones clear out, leaving the ragged bunch of misfit toys, Grace, Zayday, neck brace-wearing Hester (Lea Michele), deaf Tiffany (Whitney Meyer), candle vlogger Jennifer (Breezy Eslin) and lesbian Sam (Jeanna Han).
All the Chanels are angry over this new development and No. 1 rushes the next morning to complain to her equally horrible boyfriend, Chad (Glen Powell), who barely pays her any mind while he busies himself playing golf with his best bro, Boone (Nick Jonas).
At the local coffee shop, Chanel talks with Ms. Beane about a plan to fake-boil the maid’s face in the sorority’s deep fryer to scare the new pledges off but by using cold oil. This plan is about as convoluted as Chanel’s wildly complicated pumpkin spice latte order that she inexplicably screams at the cashier, Pete (Diego Boneta).
By contrast, when Grace places her order, she and Pete flirt. He learns that Grace is planning to pledge Kappa Kappa Tau and he cautions her against it — that is, until No. 1 interrupts to accuse him of stalking her in the past, for which she had to get a restraining order. (Not clear why both Pete and No. 1 didn’t mention the restraining order when she placed her coffee order, but whatevs.)
Back at the house, the girls find a creepy collage in No. 1’s bedroom. At this, No. 1 flips out and puts her deep fryer plan in action, pushing Ms. Bean’s face into it — only it’s actually boiling and Ms. Bean is killed after having her face fried.
Grace and Zayday immediately want to go to the police, but No. 1 bribes the rest of the pledges to keep it a secret and they all help stash the body in the meat locker. Man, for a bunch of skinny bitches in a sorority, they sure have access to a lot of restaurant-grade appliances. Meanwhile, we see that Pete’s in the bushes watching.
Dean Munsch smokes a ciggie after sleeping with Chad, as she laments her life. She reveals that she’s getting sex by blackmailing students on academic probation, to which Chad responds, “I’m in love with you.” She shoos him away.
Grace has lunch with Pete, and he admits that he knows about the dead body. He’s an investigative reporter for the school paper and they decide to team up to take No. 1 down from the inside. They break into the meat locker and have to hide when No. 1 and Chad arrive just in time to hear Chad admit that he gets turned on by a dead body. Talk about a keeper. At this point, they see Ms. Bean’s corpse is gone.
To solidify their loyalty, No. 1 has the other Chanels participate in a blood oath, but No. 2 (Ariana) freaks out and says she’s had enough and is going home. Dressed back in her usual fembot attire, No. 2 is interrupted from packing from a text message telling her to open her door. It’s the Red Devil. After some silly text messaging, the Red Devil attacks her but Ariana survives long enough to live-tweet her own death. Oh, you millennials and your social media!
I should mention at this point that every Chanel seems to want to be a network newscaster when they grow up.
Back at the house, all the pledges except Grace have agreed to be in holes in the yard with only their heads sticking out. Later, when the girls have fallen asleep, they’re awoken by the sound of the gate opening and then a riding lawn mower starting. They start to scream when the Red Devil proceeds to mow over the head of Taylor Swift-loving Deaf Tiffany.
After this murder, finally, the police get involved and the girls are sequestered in the house by a detective, Dean Munsch and Gigi, who say it’s safer for them to just live in the house now. Huh? We learn that Hester immediately volunteered to help the Chanels with No. 2’s body, which they also stuff in the meat locker.
Security guard Denise Hemphill (Niecy Nash) is hired and she does her best to interject some comedy into the episode in an extended bit that’s supposed to show she’s not great at her job. Noted.
Grace goes downstairs to get more soap. The ominous Red Devil is lurking nearby and Grace discovers a mysterious locked door in the basement. She rushes to tell Pete about it and they get so excited they make out to (again) an iconic ’80s song, “If You Were Here” by the Thompson Twins.
From there, we see Dean Munsch talking with Grace’s dad to convince him to let her stay. She hits on him, but he’s not interested and asks for a professor job so he can be close to his daughter. That seems reasonable.
Grace continues exploring the basement and goes into the locked room, where she finds a wooden chest that contains a CD party mix and the yellow prom dress worn by the girl who gave birth in the first scene. No. 1 finds her and tells her the story of the girl dying after giving birth in the tub. Her version of the story is that Dean Munsch and Ms. Bean helped the sorority girls hide the dead girl’s body.
Grace asks, “What happened to the baby?” but gets no answer to this mystery.
During sex with No. 1, Chad admits to wanting to have sex with corpses. This is finally too much for her and she breaks up with him and he storms off. Back in his room, Chad’s roomie and best “bro” Boone asks to sleep in bed with him because he’s scared, but we also get the picture that Boone’s gay.
When No. 1 comes into Chad’s room to take back her breaking up with him, she catches the two bros in bed together. The volatile couple reconciles only to break up moments later.
Pete breaks into the dean’s office to investigate and finds a “’95 House Party File,” but the Red Devil knocks him out and leaves him in the quad with a sign that reads “MYOB,” presumably “mind your own business.” Back in his room, Pete explains this to Grace while they flirt. She opens his closet to find a red devil costume, which he claims is the school mascot. She also suspects he’s the bathtub baby.
Boone approaches the Chanels to say he’s coming out and wants to pledge Kappa Kappa Tau. No. 1 says he can, but No. 5 loses it and basically threatens to kill him.
Grace spots her dad in his jeep guarding the house. Gigi says she’ll go talk to him. They end up flirting and bonding over ’90s music. Lurking in the background, we see Dean Munsch notice their flirtation and growing angry over it.
The security guards fall asleep outside the sorority house and are awakened by a scream. They run inside to hear No. 1 claim that the Red Devil tried to push her out the window. All the girls run upstairs to see written on the wall in No. 1’s bedroom in red paint (or blood?), “Sluts will die.”
Denise returns to her car to find her partner stabbed to death. Screaming, she drives off, but not before tossing her partner into the street. It’s not clear where she’s driving off to.
Boone works out to some ’80s jams and gets sexy. Someone creeps into his room — it’s the Red Devil but Boone seems to know him. Later, other frat bros freak out when they find Boone’s dead body with a slit throat.
At a gross dinner to wrap up their hell week of hazing, No. 1 tells the pledges that Ms. Beane is the killer, but they don’t seem to buy her theory. Their meal is interrupted by Chad and Denise, who tells them her partner was killed the night before (funny she’s just now bringing it up) and Chad tells them Boone was killed.
However, at the mortuary, the Red Devil pulls Boone’s body out of the drawer and we see (gasp!) he faked his own death! Cliffhanger till next week!