Here it Is: My Long-Awaited ‘Star’ Review
In preparing to write my review for the pilot episode of the Empire spin-off Star, I kept trying to find another story of a girl group I could compare it to. There is of course Dreamgirls and Sparkle, but I found Star didn’t quite remind me of either. Yes, there are similarities, but it’s obvious creator Lee Daniels aims to think outside the box for his telling of three female singers who leave home in search of the bigtime.
One of the major differences between Star and the other stories I mentioned, is the ethnicity of the girls, which comes into play early and often. Star, the lead white female, is repeatedly shown to be on the receiving end of black aggression. From social workers to hairstylists, her whiteness seems to bother just about every black person she meets, something that left me rolling my eyes repeatedly.
Her sister Simone (Brittany O’Grady) fares no better. She’s living with a black foster family, that includes a father who chastises her for thinking her skin color makes her better than everyone else. Meanwhile, we later discover that he’s more than okay with Simone and her skin color… especially when his wife is not around.
With black men and women being shot by white police officers and civilians all over this country every day, it will be interesting to see how white people being abused and discriminated against by black people will play out to a nationwide audience, that like Empire, will more than likely be predominately black.
Lee Daniels’ films and shows have always left me feeling a bit awkward as a black woman. While we are quite visible in his creations, our portrayals are always on the iffy side. Plus, I will never quite get over his crediting Sereya McNeil for helping Empire crossover into white homes by having the right skin color and hair type.
Star, like Empire when I first saw it, does not impress me. Yeah, there are plenty of “oh snap,” moments, but most of them left me cold and feeling alienated as a viewer. Not even Ryan Destiny, the final member of the girl group, and only black girl, could ease the uncomfortableness I felt while watching this show. Her character is pleasant enough, but she’s a bit player. She’s the brains and writer behind the group’s songs, but personality and story wise, her arc pales in comparison to those of the other two girls.
Now, I did only see the pilot episode, so things could possibly get better, but as of right now, I see Star being only a modest hit for Fox, and not for long. I predicted Empire would falter due to their portrayal of black people, and here they are in their third season and they’ve already hit a series low. Star won’t fare much better unless Daniels eases off the hair weave jokes and gets over his skin color fixation.
In closing, if I had to rate Star’s premiere episode, I’d give it 3.5 out of 5 stars. While not impressed overall, the three lead females did not bore me as I originally thought they would.
Star (Jude Demorest) is an incredibly strong lead character. She will do whatever it takes to protect her sister and to succeed. Likewise, her sister Simone will need all the help she can get. She’s the most fragile of the three, and has already seen her fair share of trauma. Expect a drug overdose or death for her at some point. Finally, there is Alexandra (Ryan Destiny), she’s the most well off of the three, but her dad, once a big-name artist in his own right, is not very supportive and is borderline mentally abusive.
Having said all that, if you dig drama, then Star might be for you. The show is set to premiere December 14th, following Empire’s mid-season finale.