I have an irrational hatred for Ryan Murphy. I don’t know if it’s because I am jealous of his massive success or because of his James Cameron “I’m the King of the World” smugness. But who knows? Maybe I am totally wrong. Maybe he’s the most humble guy on the face of the Earth. Ultimately, I have issues with his shows — and they are a reflection of him.
When Murphy’s Nip/Tuck first came out, I thought it was a great show. I remember having to review the DVD box set of the first two seasons and was impressed with the show’s edginess. Then the seasons after happened and I just stopped caring because it got TOO out of control. He thought that since audiences loved the outlandish direction of the story lines, that he would continue to move forward with unruly, wild ideas. He would just let the story roam wild without any sort of filter or edit button.
The same could be said about Glee. This show was when I REALLY started to pay attention to Murphy. As a former high school music geek, I connected with Glee. I appreciated his depiction of underdogs and misfits. There was so much heart and emotion to the first season. It felt like a genuine musical TV show, where the music was interwoven into the storyline effortlessly to serve the story and push it forward. Then the second season happened, then the third and then however many more after that. It just started to become a sloppy, clumsy show where random songs were shamelessly inserted into weak story lines for the hell of it. At one point, the show just lost its soul. It lost its meaning. It became an annoying mashup mixtape from the most annoying person in choir — the pandering outcast among outcasts. I felt that the show betrayed me. I didn’t care for it at all.
Now, Murphy has found a bevy of success with his American Horror Story franchise and Scream Queens. I like the former more far more than the latter.
I will give it to Murphy: he definitely has a voice when it comes to his projects. He is one of the few directors where you can tell it is one of his works (if the show overuses a fish-eye lens, it’s probably his). I appreciate his willingness to go all in on something. He never half asses his outrageousness. He always gives 100 percent no matter what and is fearless when he comes to putting stuff on television — which is his strength and his weakness. Murphy is essentially John Waters for middle America. He curates and spoon feeds counter culture to the ignorant. This is where I start to have problems with him.
Murphy is never afraid to include a dialogue about race, LGBT lifestyle, treatment of women, body image, sexual identity, etc. into his projects, but he is not subtle about it AT ALL. He likes to shove it in our face and say: “LOOK AT THIS SOCIAL ISSUE! IT’S IMPORTANT!” He has written bigoted, chauvinistic, racist, and homophobic characters and dialogue to push the boundaries. With each show he creates, it gets more and more exaggerated. It is most evident in AHS and Scream Queens.
The racism isn’t that crazy in this season of AHS because each episode is essentially an hour long Lady Gaga video, but I had to stop watching Scream Queens because of how vile and ignorant it was — specifically Emma Roberts’s character, Chanel. For the first couple of episodes she says some monstrous insults regarding race. I understand she is supposed to be like that, but then again, there’s only so much you can take before it become a little overzealous. We get it. Chanel is a monster. That is accomplished when she called her maid a “white mammy” in the first episode. We don’t need to be reminded with every line she spews.
Murphy is provocative, but at times, it seems like he is having too much fun creating this racist characters. Yes, we know horrible people exist and his characters are created from them — but they are all bullshit and trite. There’s nothing clever or thoughtful about the message he is trying to get across (if there is even a message at all). When it comes down to it, these characters are two-dimensional and shallow with no redeeming qualities — but maybe that’s Murphy’s intent. But it’s also why I stop watching the shows.
What makes all of this worse is that Murphy’s writing team for Scream Queens has been all white. Yup, according to Mic, there hasn’t been a story written by a anyone but a white man. So all these racist lines have been coming from the minds of a white male. The same goes for American Horror Story: Coven and Glee. Neither had non-white, non-male credited writers well after the second season.
All of these shows are becoming a circus of jokes about race, being gay, being female, handicapped, fat, skinny, and any other oppressed group of people — and Ryan Murphy is the ringleader. There is something seriously wrong with this picture.