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7 TV Tropes MTV’s New ‘Scream’ TV Show Should Skewer

7 TV Tropes MTV's New 'Scream' TV Show Should Skewer

Yesterday, MTV ordered a TV show based on Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson’s ’90s horror franchise “Scream” to series. While many may only remember the film as a scary good time, the four films worked (successively less as time went by) as genre deconstructions gamely satirizing the most conventional tropes of the horror film genre. We’re hoping the same will be done for TV. Below, we’ve listed some of our (least) favorite tropes and how they’d best be taken to task by the MTV serial.

1) The Cliffhanger Ending

If “Scream” the series knows what it’s doing, every scene will end with a dramatic cliffhanger. EVERY scene. Television as a medium has literally evolved around a structure created to sell ad time, and even in this glorious age of HBOs and DVRs, it’s an ingrained part of a TV writer’s training to make sure that every time the show goes to commercial, the audience has a damn good reason to keep watching — and that at the end of the episode, viewers had better want to see what happens next week. So “Scream” has got to take this as far as humanly possible; every moment should keep us wondering what “What the hell?” crazy twist is about to come next. 

READ MORE: Lighten Up, Kevin Williamson: CBS And the Question of Fun

2) Twists!

In the good old days of Must See TV, everyone was tuning in to watch their favorite shows live. Now, you’re lucky if half of your audience is with you on premiere night. Shows that lure viewers to watch during the first airing, though, are hot commodities, and most of them have one simple thing in common: twists. Plot twists keep audiences on the edge of their seats when done well, and usually liven things up even when they’re done poorly. “Scream” should take advantage of this — as they did in the movie — by layering on the twists to an absurd degree. Even mocking the practice by doing it, MTV should see a ratings boost for same-day viewing.

3) The Slut/Virgin Paradox

The Madonna/whore complex is an engrained part of our culture, but TV has a way of truly heightening this conflict with the addition of a body count. One classic example: When “The X-Files” introduced Agent Fowley (Mimi Rogers), acknowledged as a former “chickadee” of Mulder’s, the character was immediately a fan least-favorite. So, after a few episodes of stirring up jealousy in Scully, followed by an attempt to seduce Mulder during a weird “Last Temptation of Christ” homage, Fowley dies ignominiously off-screen. Scully delivers the news to audiences and Mulder alike, then chastely kisses him on the forehead before walking away. Because “The X-Files” was… subtle. Point is, while the slut-shaming of women on television has gotten slightly better in recent years, a good ol’ reminder of not just a classic horror film trope, but a classic TV trope, will go a long way. 

4) Monster of the Week

Simply put: How is there always a new bad guy every week? From “Law & Order” to “The X-Files” to “Gotham,” many TV shows rely on new villains popping up on a weekly basis to keep plots juicy. Procedurals are a staple of every major network, with each of them sporting their own hit version of a “cops & robbers” premise. Wouldn’t it be funny if instead of the local police chasing the new killers introduced each week, it was Ghostface taking them out because he/she is fed up with playing second fiddle to some new threat? Or, like Kevin Williamson’s latest disaster of a show, “The Following,” Ghostface (who has inexplicably not been confirmed to appear in “Scream”) could develop a cult of Ghostface followers who mimic his creepy antics and eventually become indistinguishable from each other. Eventually, the police and teenagers would have to start wondering where all these killers were coming from, leading to the biggest twist and cliffhanger to close out Season 1: Every time you think one of the Ghostfaces dies, he/she doesn’t. They’re all alive, ready to come back for a Season 2 nobody wants. 

5) Off-Screen Violence

More of a staple of the broadcast networks than cable, the line between what can and can’t be shown on television is ever-dwindling. Sure, HBO and the rest of the premium cable networks have no limits, but cable dramas are still held to the FCC’s (low) standards. MTV should look to push the limits of even a TV-MA rating with “Scream,” though not in the way you might think. “Scream” doesn’t need to turn to “Saw”-esque torture porn (though honestly, if anything needs to be skewered to death, it’s that). Instead, the show’s utterly outlandish deaths could happen off-screen after a visual is painted in our mind already, making the thought of what happened to some poor, innocent teenage hottie worse than actually watching it. To make its satirical point about TV’s ratings, implement the TV-MA tag while pointing out audiences won’t actually see anything too gruesome: an ideal “freak you” to the FCC. 

6) Character Interrupts Two Other Characters Kissing

From soap operas to procedurals to sci-fi, shows often mine the slow development of romance for drama, meaning that if a couple takes a step forward towards finding love, they’re undoubtedly about to take two steps back in a few moments. (Unless it’s the season finale, leading to another cliffhanger, no doubt.) The easiest way to execute those set-backs? A cockblock in the form of an unwanted party interrupting the scene. Bonus points if said unwanted party is romantically interested or involved with one of the people being interrupted, because entire television empires have been built around love triangles. And no one knows this better than Kevin “I created ‘Dawson’s Creek’ AND ‘The Following'” Williamson. 

7) Very Special Episode

“Scream” is at this point a blank canvas, but has so much potential when it comes to tackling topics relevant to horror fans and/or teenagers. And that means the MTV generation needs to be taught about the dangers of doing drugs. Or having unprotected sex. Or running up the goddamn stairs when there’s a serial killer in your house. A Very Special Episode where our Neve Campbell-equivalent discovers that bulimia is bad, or that when you say, “What could possibly go wrong?” to your best friend, you’ve maybe murdered your best friend, would be amazing. And also, teach us all a valuable lesson. 

READ MORE: Why Legendary Writer Andrew Davies Does Adaptations: ‘F*ck All Happens to You’

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