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
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
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.