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Sunday, December 18, 2016

PILOT REVIEW: Star

STAR











Starring: Jude DeMorest, Ryan Destiny, Brittany O'Grady, Amiyah Scott, Quincy Brown, with Benjamin Bratt, and Queen Latifah

Created by Lee Daniels and Tom Donaghy
Written by Lee Daniels & Tom Donaghy, Directed by Lee Daniels

Star is a new drama from the people who created the phenom Empire and it's certainly easy to see some parallels though this is quite a different show and one that I think will have a hard time keeping the Empire crowd around. Star is centered on three girls: sisters Star and Simone (Jude DeMorest and Brittany O'Grady) who team up with a rich daughter of a star looking to make it on her own, Alex (Ryan Destiny). The three girls move to Atlanta and try to get a big break while living with Carlotta (Queen Latifah), the owner of a salon. Rounding out the main cast is Carlotta's daughter, Cotton (Amiyah Scott), neighbor Derek (Quincy Brown), and talent manager Jahil Rivera (Benjamin Bratt).

I got the feeling throughout the pilot that this show was just trying way too hard to be as buzzy as Empire with its high drama, trash talking characters, and elaborate fantasy sequences. But if Empire seems to be losing steam, this didn't have it in the first place. One of the things that made Empire's first season such a success was that it was not self aware. The producers and writers didn't know it would become a huge hit and they wrote it the way they wanted to. Since then, Empire and now Star all seem a little too self aware and the quality is diminished as a result.

The performances in Star were solid though I have to say I'm getting a little tired of Queen Latifah playing these types of roles. She was fine as she always is, but she seems to have gotten very pigeon-holed at this point. Benjamin Bratt seemed promising but didn't have a lot to do in the pilot. As for the three lead girls, they were solid but the writing didn't do any favors to Star, who could be a really interesting character, but so far seems to be every cliche in the book for a girl in her type of situation.

The filming was intentionally gritty (I'm assuming) but it actually gave it a little bit of a cheap look. I'm not a fan of that type of filming style so it could be a personal preference thing. The plot was also so convoluted in the pilot with a ton of exposition being packed in with performances, some fighting, and some twists. It felt like a show that just tried to take all the things that made a show like Empire a success and throw it all together so we ended up with a pilot that honestly felt like a mess. It's going to take a lot of work for Star to become the next big thing. Oh and by the way, an Empire crossover is inevitable, right?

WILL I WATCH IT AGAIN?
Ehh. I might but if I'm being honest with myself, this is not a show that's going to become part of my regular lineup so why even bother with an episode two?

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