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Ryan Murphy talks 'Scream Queens'' 'cartoonish' ways

Ryan Murphy talks 'Scream Queens'' 'cartoonish' ways
The "Scream Queens" panel at the Summer TCA Tour: From left, Niecy Nash, Diego Boneta, Nasim Pedrad, Abigail Breslin, Skyler Samuels, Keke Palmer, Lea Michele, Emma Roberts, Jamie Lee Curtis and co-creators/executive producers/directors/writers Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk and Ian Brennan. (Richard Shotwell / Invision/AP)

Horror is a laughing matter in Fox's upcoming anthology series "Scream Queens."

At a time when the genre is screaming with options on television -- from MTV's TV revival of "Scream" to FX's "American Horror Story" -- "Scream Queens" sets itself apart with its "cartoonish" personality. So say its creators Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk and Ian Brennan.

The longtime collaborators, whose other notable project on the network is recently departed "Glee," were on hand Thursday at the Television Critics Assn. press tour -- along with their robust, female-dominated cast -- to discuss the horror-comedy world that "Scream Queens" inhabits.

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The 13-episode first season, whose cast includes horror maven Jamie Lee Curtis, Lea Michele and Emma Roberts, explores a mystery that stretches back 20 years and is set inside the world of the college Greek system.

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Comparing "Scream Queens" to its competitors, Murphy said: "They are very tonally different. 'Scream Queens' has a more satirical, cartoonish quality."

Not that it's all fun and games. Violence and gore are to be expected. But Murphy told reporters that the pushback he's gotten from Broadcast Standards and Practices has been less about violence and more about language and "girls having an empowering sense of their own sexuality."

"Violence is cool, for the most part," Murphy said. "That's very easy to get through in my job. It's language, it's slang, it's trying to reflect how people really talk. It's trying to write characters who are open about their sexuality, who talk about their sexuality, that gets the most attention and the most pushback." 

Curtis, who stars as the cutthroat dean of the college featured in the series, weighed in on the topic of language and the often blunt, harsh dialogue of the characters.

"We say what people think," Curtis said. "The show strips away, it flays the imagined behaviors of human beings. It actually shows what I think people are, which is inherently dark, inherently unhappy, inherently frustrated human beings who are trying so desperately to hold it together. Everyone here is wearing a mask, and this show peels off those masks each week and it's brilliant."

Murphy gave credit to "The Walking Dead" for busting open the door for a show like "Scream Queens" to exist on television.

"I think this genre has really exploded in the years since 'The Walking Dead' came on," he said. "That show really made an impact on us. It brought horror back to television in a major way. I do think the more the merrier.

The two-hour season premiere of "Scream Queens" airs Sept. 22 on Fox.

I tweet about TV (and other things) here: @villarrealy

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