It is difficult to say whether Scream Queens show creators Ian Brennan, Ryan Murphy, and Brad Falchuk are that clever or just desperately throwing every horror reference they think of into the series. Since the gags, like the Hannibal Lector references in Beware of Young Girls, or that, not so, sly dig at Ouija that really hit the funny bone so hard it hurts, the former appears to be the truth behind these three conspirators. Before looking at the episode overall, however, l mad props go to Jamie Lee Curtis and her Dean Cathy “Hannibal” Munsch “Quid Pro Quo, Clarice,” indeed.
The plot line this week reveals that Gigi (Nasim Pedrad), while not necessarily one of the Red Devil’s, is on a revenger murder spree with a partner, and she is not happy at the lack of progress. Dean Munsch is a definite Hannibal Lector fan, and the local detective investigating the serial killings qualifies as the dumbest law enforcement official ever and Chad is lactose intolerant.
Scream Queens introduces a new (Temporary?) character Feather McCarthy (played by Tavi Gevinson) who fell in love with Dean Munsch’s Beatle loving husband, back in the day. Pete (Diego Boneta) and Grace (Skyler Samuels) bring Feather in to question her about the dean. The former Kappa Kappa Tau member reveals how she fell in love with her Beatles 101 instructor.
*Sidenote* Diego does his brilliant Matthew McConaughey again. What a party trick. Now if he can do Christopher Walken…
The girl Feather also tells the two investigating students that someone, the dean, tried to kill her with Dr. Munsch’s “iPod thing that you plug in and picks up music from the air” aka a transistor radio (as pointed out by Grace). The girl has the radio put in her bath by, we learn later, Dean Munsch, who states that she distrusts anyone whose “bush” is that large, as they must be hiding something.
The sorority house stages Chanel #2’s funeral, at the start of the episode, where Emma Roberts delivers the funniest eulogy ever:
“This dumb dead whore also used her high-ponied wiles to seduce my man into rubbing uglies with her. So I hope you all grasp the concept that this is what happens when you rub uglies with my man… You end up dead! So, have fun being dead, Number Two. You were a stupid, little trollop, and I hope you’re burning in hell right now. Amen.”
Only Roberts could deliver this line with such conviction. She also, later in the show, asks Chanel #6:
“Why do you have nine tampons? How big is your cooch?”
Sexual, snort-making jokes aside, the episode had a plethora of horror homages, or nods and winks, and at least one “show-business” gag.
The entire Feather and Dr. Munsch relationship was a clear reference to the “Chairman of the Board” and his short relationship to the former wife of Woody Allen, Mia Farrow. Actress Gevinson, who plays Feather, sports a bowl hair cut, similar to that worn by Farrow when she and Frank Sinatra were an item. (Cattiest remark of just about ever goes to Ava Gardner who sniped, after seeing Farrow (who looked a lot like Vic Gevinson does in this episode), “I always knew Frank would run off with a boy…”)
During the scene where Feather finds her older lover murdered, Dame Shirley Bassey can be heard singing her version of Sinatra’s hit, “That’s Life”. Clearly a nod to the “old days of Hollywood.” Another, not so old, reference has Grace telling Gigi that her dad deserves a girlfriend who does not dress like Brenda Walsh.
Walsh, of course, was the character portrayed by Shannen Doherty in 90210. Shannen has one of the worst reps in town as being a pretty nasty bit of stuff to work with. Whether these rumors are true or not does not matter, as the clear indication is that Gigi is not a nice gal either. This could be “double nod” as Doherty also hosted Scare Tactics where viewers pranked their friends with a great scare. (Later hosted by Tracy Morgan.)
With all these things going on, amid Emma Roberts getting some of the best lines of the series thus far, “The movie Ouija? No. No one did!” In response to Chanel #3 asking if Chanel had seen the film. Chanel also gets numerous digs in at #5, as evidenced during the ouija board sequence, “Does her vagina have teeth?”
There is also the line about #2 being Eiffel-Towered by Hitler and Satan…
Perhaps the best film homage is Jamie Lee Curtis as “Hannibal” Munsch. When the inept police detective arrests the dean for murdering her former husband, he calls for back up. Two more detectives arrive with a straight-jacket and once Munsch is wrapped in the item, a’la Lector, she is taken outside for the crowds to gawp at.
In the asylum, she delivers that The Silence of the Lambs line “Quid Pro Quo, Clarice.” She also sketches her dress designs, cartoon faced creations all wearing dresses of black. Away from Lector land, but still in the asylum, Munsch also sings the praises of the “meds” she is on, the little blue ones especially…An obvious allusion to The Matrix and the choice of pills that Neo can take “The blue one ends the story…”
The Silence of the Lambs is also referenced at the end of the episode when Feather is put into a “Hannibal” cage, clear plexiglass and surrounded by space, in the middle of a huge room, wearing a straight-jacket and protesting her innocence.
Scream Queens is hysterically funny, clever, witty and full of homage moments. There are so many that one needs to either record the show and re-watch it repeatedly, in order to find all the references, or watch it once and miss loads of well written and delivered moments.
The series airs Tuesdays on FOX. Tune in and learn just how clever Ryan Murphy and his team of co-creators really are. Glee, hell…this is worlds better…and there is no teen angst or singing, just some great performers rocking it out of the park.
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