Not The Brightest Star
Fox has done it again. The network known for its shady news segments and biased reporting has put together yet another music themed program for viewers. Viewers of color specifically. Super-producers, Lee Daniels (Empire) and Charles Pratt Jr. ( Young & The Restless) tapped new talent Jude Demorest, Ryan Destiny and Brittany O’ Grady to bring us Star. This freshman series is a concocted mix of soap-opera auras and musical theater numbers featuring original music. Think Chicago on Broadway meets mega-hit Empire.
The network gave viewers a sneak peak in early December. Here is what we know. Star follows the formation of an up-and-coming girl group featuring three talented vocalists (Demorest, Destiny, O’Grady) who met on Instagram. Star and Simone Davis, two street-hardened sisters embedded deep in the foster care system and Alex Crane, a sheltered socialite tired of the privilege her last name holds. This pairing becomes the turbulent trifecta of personalities as they meet in-person for the first time.
We meet all the girls at a pivotal point in their lives where circumstances need to change asap. Each young woman, freshly graduated from high school, has dreams of her own and personal struggles to overcome before the spotlight finds them. They’re all running from something under the guise of running toward Hollywood fame. Collectively, they decide that controlling their future and becoming Destiny’s Children or TLC lite is the only way to go. They don’t yet realize that things you run from only follow in the shadows. They’re barely legal. Life has plenty of time to teach them lessons. Sounds like a good premise for an hour drama yet something about Star doesn’t exactly shine bright for me.
I love TV but I don’t love this.
Was it the cast, you ask? Not entirely, since some cast members are pretty heavy hitters on both the small & silver screen. Queen Latifah (Carlotta Brown) and Benjamin Bratt (Jahil Rivera) have been in the business for years and have multiple awards and memorable movies under their belts. Even Destiny and O’Grady, who are newcomers starring opposite another newbie, manage to engage me as a viewer from the beginning. Their performances are quite believable.
It is main character Star (Demorest) that has flat notes (not literally because the girl can sang) and seems to lack all the luster of her namesake. Though Star is tenacious and head-strong, she struggles with deciphering dreams from reality where her other comrades are fully aware.
Alex & Simone are Star’s band-mates, friends and seeming equals but appearances are deceiving in the music industry as Carlotta (Latifah) warns the girls.
It’s not all bad. I did enjoy one refreshing thing!
Star has a surprisingly progressive and inclusive change in cast rosters. Star hosts not one but two transgender characters! Amiyah Scott plays Cotton, Carlotta’s transgender daughter and adds some layers to the drama by being frenemies with hairstylist Miss Bruce (Miss Lawrence). Their tension-filled dynamic alone is enough to set your DVR to record religiously.
I think as a show it is a great starting point for storytelling. My hope for the series is that each character gets the attention and care they deserve singularly amidst the chaos of being in a singing group. I would love to see Alex and Simone form their own bonds in the coming episodes and address their secrets head-on. Fox has a history of using principal actors like Latifah and Bratt to garner rating hikes and wow-factors but fails to follow through on storyline consistency. The series came in totaling around 6.7 million viewers and hopefully these numbers will increase each week. I guess only time will tell.
Catch the official premiere on Fox, January 4 at 8/9pm and follow the girls to see if they’ll make it big or go in down in history as just another busted girl group.