Ryan Murphy loves to recycle favorite actors, and so it comes as no surprise that Emma Roberts, who appeared in the Coven and Freak Show installments of American Horror Story, has joined him for Scream Queens. And yes, under that neck brace is none other than Lea Michele, who starred as the diva-in-the-making Rachel Berry on Glee.
Ryan Murphy doesn't get too cute when titling his shows, instead choosing the straightforward approach. Popular examined -- you guessed it -- the issue of being popular in high school, Nip/Tuck was set in a plastic surgery center, Glee focused on a glee club, and American Horror Story, well, you get the idea. The term "scream queen" typically refers to an actress who is known for her work in horror movies (and therefore, must scream a lot on screen). This brings us to...
The producer has built up such a following that he's often able to land big-name stars from films on his shows, either as cast members -- like Jessica Lange in American Horror Story -- or as guest stars, such as Gwyneth Paltrow on Glee. On Scream Queens, he snagged the original scream queen herself -- Jamie Lee Curtis who began her career with the Halloween franchise and other horror flicks -- to play the dean of a college.
Murphy has often explored what it takes to belong socially by making those on the fringes into the heroes, but also showing sympathy for those who must maintain their popular status (such as on Popular). On Glee, the misfits and jocks/cheerleaders mixed to literally make beautiful music together, while Freak Show made the sideshow freaks the stars. This time, it's the awkward and less fashionable who get their chance when Kappa Kappa Tau, an elite sorority, is forced to accept all pledges.
Love them or hate them, Ryan Murphy shows often feature fierce fashionistas. On Glee, Kurt Hummel actually took the most risks, whereas on American Horror Story, Jessica Lange's Freak Show character Elsa Mars elevated glamour to outrageous levels. Scream Queens gives us major fashion led by Chanel Oberlin (Emma Roberts) and her Kappa Kappa Tau sisters. There can never be too much faux fur, people!
There's a certain snappiness to dialogue in a Ryan Murphy series, but the most quotable lines usually come from the so-called villains such as Sue Sylevester on Glee. Her equivalent on Scream Queens is Chanel. You can bet that "Good evening, idiot hookers!" and dubbing new pledge Grace "Pissy Spacek" is just the beginning of her deliciously awesome takedowns.
As the Darth Vader of television, Ryan Murphy is drawn to the dark side of what makes us tick. Whether it's the ugliness of clique mentality, homophobia, hazing or murderous intent, if it's vile or sinful, you can bet it will be represented. Scream Queens will continue the trend of exploring evil through its serial killer story but also shine a light on the parts of us that we'd rather not acknowledge through the college and Greek lenses.