Archive | 12:47 pm

Spring 2014 Review: Star-Crossed

5 Mar

Stars, crossedA quick preamble: I genuinely enjoy watching and reviewing CW shows. They’re exactly why I got into the whole watch-and-review-every-first-episode business to begin with. They’re not directed at me, and they’re shows that, with exception (one day I’ll attempt Supernatural) I probably would never watch, but they’re actually generally skillfully built to attract their target demographic, and while they may not always be great or particularly good, they’re rarely terrible and there’s an art to their construction that I really appreciate.

On to Star-Crossed. One might guess from the title that the stars are two people in love from opposite sides of the tracks, but not that their love is quite literally star crossed, as in the boy and the girl are from different planets. The girl is Emery (played by Aimee Teegarden, Friday Night Lights’ Julie Taylor), and she’s coming back to high school after a long illness. The boy is Roman (Matt Lanter, of the new 90210), an alien of the Atrian race. The Atrians arrived on Earth a decade before the events of Star-Crossed, and they’ve been District 9-ized. They live in their own sector, separated from the humans, and have curfews and human policemen patrolling their area. Seven students have been chosen for an experimental program, attempting to integrate select Atrian teenagers with their human counterparts at the local high school. If they’re successful, it will pave the way for more Atrian-human integration. The racism analogy is palpable – suffice to say the Atrians are not popular with the humans. At best the humans ignore them, at worst they curse at them, fight with them, and yell ethnic slurs. Some Atrians are excited about the integration process, while others embark upon a more covert aggressive path to one day take down the humans and escape.

It’s both an alien show and a high school show. On Emery’s first day back at school,there’s all sorts of social norms she has to learn, like the fresh-to-American-high school Cady Heron in Mean Girl. Emery feels somewhat sympathetic towards the Atrians, and one in particular, but she’s afraid of helping them due to the social ramifications. (She actually tried to protect one when she was a kid and they first arrived – who ends up being Roman – young Emery is played by the adorable actress who played Maddie in the short-lived Ben & Kate.) It’s high school. There are cute boys. Emery’s originally attracted to Grayson (played by FNL’s Grey Damon, who I can’t really recall dealing with Julie ever on the show), and she’s invited to a party by the school’s Queen Bee, Taylor. There’s bullying and peer pressure. The Atrians are harassed relentlessly by a bunch of no-good irredeemable bullies, and those who don’t bully are encouraged not to intervene or risk becoming outcast themselves.

There’s definitely the seeds of a smart, if not particularly compelling to me personally, idea here. It’s District Nine meets Mean Girls. It’s competent, and the combination actually makes a lot of sense. That said, it’s hardly anything to get worked up about quality wise. There’s nothing particularly sharp about the writing or filming or characterization; the most original aspect of it is in its particular combination of tropes. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s phoned in the way shows like Intelligence really feel that way, but it definitely fits the basic patterns for almost every CW show and that, like fitting into the format of a USA series, places a bunch of natural limits on a show. There are good looking young people, a potential love triangle, and a level of relatability for teens. The main characters deal will souped up versions of the problems the primary demographic deal with every day.

And again, that’s fine for what it is, and maybe it works in connecting with its target audience generally but unless really fine-tuned and executed to perfection, which this isn’t, it leaves a show that’s fairly uninteresting for those of us who lie outside of that demographic.

Will I watch it again? No. It’s too easy to say something isn’t for me, and shows of any genre that are good enough at what they do are for me even if they might not fit my general inclinations. That said, this isn’t for me. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, but it’s certainly not a stand out, and will probably be forgotten about or more likely never heard of by most, which is probably the correct reaction.