By Joyce Slaton,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Graphic violence, snappy dialogue in serial-killer comedy.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Snappy dialogue sends up racism, homophobia, sexism, and other "isms," but younger viewers may not catch the irony and may take offensive statements at face value.
Positive Role Models
Some characters are more heroic than others, but most have some kind of terrible secret and many have hidden motives.
Violence & Scariness
Action centers on a serial killer loose at a college sorority. Graphic violence including stabbings, throat slashing, decapitations, and the like. The camera often cuts away during the grossest moments, but we see flowing, flying, and spurting blood, dead bodies, gore. Characters are suddenly dispatched in deaths played for laughs. Gory deaths including a woman's face being deep-fried and a killer reapplying spray-tanning solution with hydrochloric acid.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Couples have sex with moaning and thrusting (no nudity). Many references to and jokes about sex, oral sex, casual sex, group sex. Jokes about a gay character "touching the wiener" of a straight character. A man says he's going to take underwear from a woman he just had sex with.
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Frequent cursing: "hell," "ass," "damn." Vulgar language: Women are referred to as "pieces of ass" and "sluts." A woman asks another woman if she "munches box."
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Products & Purchases
Characters post to a Facebook-like online service. Real celebrities (Jada Pinkett Smith, Megyn Kelly) are mentioned.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Underage characters drink cocktails and beer. A character smokes a joint on-screen.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Scream Queens is a horror-comedy about a serial killer stalking college students at a sorority. The plot and dialogue send up both slasher movies and teen drama, but younger viewers probably won't catch the irony in the queens' behavior. Similarly, violence is presented satirically, but stabbings, a decapitation, a woman burned with hydrochloric acid, and a slashed throat all are shown with flowing and spouting blood. A woman is killed by having her face deep-fried, and characters are dispatched suddenly by a masked killer. Women are called "sluts," "bitches," and "gashes," and "ass" is used frequently. Women are seen frequently in underwear, men less frequently. Underage characters drink; an authority figure smokes a joint while in bed with a much younger college student. Characters have sex with moaning and thrusting (no nudity shown). A character is disabled and her disability used as a topic for jokes.
Where to Watch
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Based on 21 parent reviews
the good role models
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What's the Story?
SCREAM QUEENS is set at a mysterious sorority house, where 20 years ago a sister died under questionable circumstances after giving birth to a baby she didn't know she was carrying. Now a murderer is once again stalking the sisters of Kappa Kappa Tau, with body after body piling up in the industrial house freezer. But that's not even the biggest problem faced by KKT's despicable president Chanel Oberlin (Emma Roberts) and her henchwomen Chanel #2 (Ariana Grande), Chanel #3 (Billie Lourd), and head lady-in-waiting Chanel #5 (Abigail Breslin). That problem would be one Dean Cathy Munsch (Jamie Lee Curtis), who has decreed that this year the misbehaving KKT must take in every single pledge who applies -- which includes shoe-ins such as legacy sister Grace Gardner (Skyler Samuels) as well as harder sells such as the back-brace-clad supernerd Hester Ulrich (Lea Michele). But whoever's going around bumping people off in a red devil suit may teach the girls that there are worse things than having to be nice.
Is It Any Good?
With sharp dialogue, clever twists, and a great cast, this is a fun show for adult and teen horror fans, but it's too violent and vulgar for younger viewers. On the funny-to-scary scale, it lands somewhere between showrunner Ryan Murphy's Glee and American Horror Story. Scream Queens definitely doesn't rise to the level of graphic sex and gore as the latter, but it's a lot creepier than Glee, though it does share that show's satiric sensibility. As on Glee, characters are racist, homophobic, and generally cruel to each other; older viewers may find it fresh and snarky, but again, younger viewers may take Chanel grousing about "ethnics" or "sluts" at face value. If you let younger teens watch, you may want to be available to counter iffy messages and watch for particularly gory scenes such as the hydrochloric acid bath or deep-fryer face-burning.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about why horror is a popular genre. Why is watching scary material enjoyable? When does it go too far?
Are we supposed to like the sorority sisters? Which ones? How can you tell? Consider the show's costuming in your reply.
Are horror comedies ever scary? Why, or why not? Do the jokes make the horror more or less scary?
- Premiere date: September 22, 2015
- Cast: Emma Roberts, Abigail Breslin, Niecy Nash, Oliver Hudson, Ariana Grande, Lea Michele, Nick Jonas
- Network: Fox
- Genre: Comedy
- TV rating: TV-14
- Last updated: February 10, 2023
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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