Scream isn’t all about the horror. This show gets female friendships in all their messy, teenage glory.
Getting lost in the mythology of Scream is so easy. I know I am obsessed with piecing together the mystery behind the murders, whether Brandon James was ever guilty or not, and why Emma is the focal point of the killer’s (or killers’) reign of terror. If Scream only had the mystery, it would be an empty shell of a show though, but luckily, it is also quietly introducing compelling and varied teenage female friendships that give the audience something real to hold onto.
The aftermath of Riley’s death brought the dynamics between Emma and Brooke, and Emma and Audrey into sharp focus. The often vapid Brooke tried to lean on Emma to get through the aftermath of losing Riley. They are the only two girls left in their close friend group, and it may be unclear what they share in common beyond that, but the need for their connection is powerful.
The scene where Emma tries to console Brooke, promising her that Riley’s death was not her fault and then having the saddest discussion about mascara ever, was a triumphant moment for the show. It said, in no uncertain terms, these are real girls with real feelings, and their friendship matters, which only made it all the more heartbreaking when Emma couldn’t make time to be there for Brooke later.
For a show where death lurks around every corner, the audience instinctually distances itself from feeling too much for the characters. The first four characters to die — Tyler, Nina, Rachel and Riley — were offed too swiftly for the audience to really care. Riley’s death carried the most weight specifically because the show had done the legwork necessary to establish her relationship with Emma, Brooke and Noah.
Brooke and Emma’s friendship is beautiful in its simplicity, but the real heart is found in the fractured friendship between Emma and Audrey. Knowing that these two amazing, strong young women once were best friends makes their every interaction sing. High school has a way of separating friends into groups, and Emma and Audrey ended up on separate sides of the lunchroom. This horrible string of events has brought them back together, and the ways in which they deeply understand each other while also knowing so little about the people they have become is the show’s greatest asset.
Emma was in the car the night Nina filmed Audrey and Rachel, and she did nothing to stop her. In so many ways, her actions were a betrayal of the highest order, but in the world of high school, it’s all too easy to do what is necessary to fit in with the friends you have, not the ones you lost. With each passing episode, Emma and Audrey reconnect, and it becomes more and more apparent what an amazing team they still are. The scene before they entered the abandoned hospital where Brandon James got his masks was just as stunning as the moment of grief Brooke and Emma shared.
With her trademark toughness and a dark sense of humor, Audrey handed Emma a pink stun gun. It’s a weapon Audrey’s father gave her for her own safety, but exactly the kind of thing she would never carry. Her weapon of choice? A crowbar. The vastly different approaches to self-protection sum up both Emma and Audrey’s differences and what binds them together.
Emma is gentle to a point. She looks unassuming, and people want to protect her, but she is so much stronger and braver than anyone gives her credit for. Audrey, who knew Emma the entire time they were growing up, knows this about her friend in a way that no one else does. Meanwhile, Audrey leads with bravado, she presents a version of herself to the world that is unwaveringly strong, but Emma knows how easily Audrey’s heart can be broken.
If only Scream could turn Emma, Brooke and Audrey into a trio, it would feature TV’s ultimate squad of powerful, cunning young women. Right now, Brooke and Audrey represent two distinct parts of Emma’s life, but these three young women need each other more than they need anyone else right now. Emma can trust her best friends, and only her best friends at this point.
While the guys on the show, with the exception of Noah, all scream danger, Emma, Brooke and Audrey are no longer suspect. Instead, their losses, their pettiness and most of all their loyalty, is what keeps Scream from being just another horror show. These young women and their friendships are worth rooting for, and they are the best reason to come back each week.