Reframing the Terror: A Response to MTV Turning Scream into a Series

by: Kevin Sparrow

Hi, Scream!

Longtime fan, first-time caller. Do you like scary movies? Just joking. But it appears you do not like them as much as you used to as I hear you’re looking to break into television, and with MTV no less. You were probably intrigued by the high cable viewership Teen Wolf has enjoyed–recently with 2.1 million viewers for it’s second season premiere on June 3–and thought you might be able to scare up the same audience. I must say, I find this a very audacious proposition that leaves me curious.

Now, I’ve been following your highs and lows since the tender age of 11. From your brutal, calculated killing of Drew Barrymore and your bloated but fascinatingly idiosyncratic sequel to your head-slap inducing third act and your contentious “reboot”/“final chapter”–with “4” as the letter “a” in the title, you brilliant maniac! You rekindled a nation’s and my own passion for horror films, and you did it with a smile on your face. Or actually, just a frozen plastic ghost-howl.

At a midnight screening for the fourth film, I remarked upon the number of “gay” men (my word choice at the time, though I did not actually survey them, so let’s upgrade now to cheerfully effeminate) and young women in the audience, which I could see you attracting either through being written by the openly gay Kevin Williamson — or through strong female characters like Sidney and Gail. Regardless, you had everyone laughing and, yes, screaming — so kudos on engaging a new generation.

From that casual observation, I could see you becoming a sensation on the small screen. The demographic the last film was pulling for–12 to 34 year olds–is the same MTV is targeting. Sustaining a mystery over the course of weeks has also proven to be a successful model when you consider series like Lost and Supernatural. My fears come in the form of your television production team, who brought Teen Wolf to life, but also are the makers of The Hills and Teen Mom. Will they really be able to build on the savvy deconstruction of horror and pop culture your film franchise banked on?

And the relative tameness of basic cable means the language and gore will have to be significantly toned down from the R-rated source material, changing some of the aesthetics of the franchise. Plus, if you’re going to match the body count of the films, that means losing cast members on a regular basis; is that sustainable for you? Perhaps you’ll go the completely opposite route and follow the example of other horror film to TV series, like Friday the 13th or Freddy’s Nightmares, to become an anthology series, recasting the roles and reframing the terror each week.

In any case, I’m willing to take this journey with you and see how you translate to a different medium. It’ll be a scream, baby!

Kevin Sparrow is a Chicago writer who is interested in Queerness is both a favorite subject and pastime. His education in movies-writing has proved that he is adept at powering up computers and elementary keyboard use. Sparrow’s short stories, poetry and essays have appeared in that order in Harrington Gay Men’s Literary Quarterly and LIES/ISLE, as well as on the website Be Yr Own Queero.

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One response to “Reframing the Terror: A Response to MTV Turning Scream into a Series

  1. Oy we shall see eh? I read a while ago that they were planning on doing a reboot of “Tales From The Crypt” but making it a continuous series rather than one shots. Woof. I have my own dream production team for that revival though 😉 Is Teen Wolf any good?

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