Fox’s Scream Queens is one of several horror shows currently competing for TV fans’ eyeballs. But unlike MTV’s take on Scream and FX’s American Horror Story, it’s the only one that can call itself “satirical” and “cartoonish,” its creators argued Thursday at the Television Critics Association summer press tour in Beverly Hills.
“This genre has really exploded in the years since The Walking Dead came on and made a huge impact,” executive producer Ryan Murphy said. “It brought horror back on television in a major way. I do think the more the merrier.”
Compared to the MTV drama which shares a similar name, “ours is more comedic and satirical, and visually, they look very different,” Murphy continued. “People can easily figure out that there are two different shows with Scream in the title.”
The Fox horror-comedy anthology is also “tonally very different” from Murphy’s other creation, American Horror Story, “which is much more sexualized and darker,” the EP described. “Scream Queens has a much more… cartoonish quality,” not that it doesn’t also include plenty of blood and brutality. But surprisingly, discussions with broadcast Standards & Practices have centered around another subject.
“Violence is cool for the most part,” Murphy explained. “That’s very easy to get through in my job. It’s language, it’s slang, it’s trying to reflect how people really talk. It’s trying to write characters who are open about their sexuality, who talk about their sexuality, that gets the most attention and the most pushback.”
Speaking of language, the series features some very sharp verbal insults, which star Jamie Lee Curtis defended as “social satire.”
“We say what people think,” the actress said. “This show strips away, it flays the imagined behaviors of human beings and shows who we are, which I believe is inherently dark, inherently unhappy, inherently frustrated human beings who are trying desperately to hold it together. You don’t know s—t about any of these characters. They’re all wearing a mask.”
As for who will survive the killer first season, the cast and producers are keeping mum. But “for the most part, everybody has the ability, if they do live, to have a creative discussion to ask, ‘Do you want to come back [in Season 2]?” Murphy revealed.