If you’re like me, then you were probably scratching your head when you heard about the new Scream TV series. The story revolves around a group of rich, gorgeous, popular high school students (played by actors over 25 years old) who are generally stalked and harassed by a serial killer in a white mask. There are a few weak attempts to show meta-awareness and essentially this is the same plot as the films hence the title, but there isn’t a whole lot to go by aside from loose details. Just like Bates Motel, this would have had less pressure on it without the licensing.
In the first 10 minutes my head nearly exploded from all the texting noises, unrealistically quickly paced dialogue (Gilmore Girls), and social media references and unfortunately, that pace never really slows down. This is Scream for the millennials, apparently, though the constant talk of Facebook, Twitter, and “going viral” had me wanting to jettison myself from the planet. This would have been fine if the series were going for satire, but the few Meta notes we are given fall flat on their faces. I don’t think the writing is intelligent enough to satirize anything. There were a couple of times where I had a decent chuckle, which made me feel moderately hopeful for the series, but majority rules.
My bigger problem with the lack of scathing satire towards millennials is that it has all of the obnoxious tropes the generation is known for but presents these things as normal. I don’t know anyone that never shuts up about social media but maybe I’m not hanging out with the right people (I don’t leave my house). The pilot tries so hard to get you to root for its generic characters, even going so far as to have one of the “smarter” characters suggest that their whole high school world is just like the series Friday Night Lights and that we’re supposed to root for the high school kids. Nope, sorry, doesn’t work that way, Jack. Not to mention that these characters taste in music is even more generic than their pretty faces.
Another thing about the lack of intelligence in writing and the constant name dropping of internet references and popular TV shows: it feels like a case of them shoehorning details into a very basic premise in attempt to get an effect like Game of Thrones. Or, a scenario where viewers seem to care about character deaths, but not even facsimile high school kids raving about tweeting nonsense could get me to care.
As a slasher, it does a nice thing in that it made me hate every boring, generic high school stereotype they could throw my way. So, it definitely has that going for it. I will say that I enjoyed the opening of the episode once I tuned out all the talk about “totally going viral”. A popular mean girl is brutally murdered in her parent’s mansion, basic but effective. A few of the jokes were decent, but overall I am not compelled to watch another episode. There is potential here I suppose, I just don’t think that potential will be reached. Although Ti West, director of The Innkeepers, House of the Devil, and The Sacrament is pegged to direct a few episodes, so that might be nice.
While I realize I’m probably not the target demographic for this series, I have a hard time believing that people will be enjoying this en masse, but I wouldn’t put it past them.