For a long time the CW was the home of shows that were very clearly targeting teens and twenty somethings, particularly of the female variety. Shows like The Vampire Diaries and Gossip Girl. But recently the network has broadened its horizons, bringing in shows like Arrow and The Tomorrow People, which have much more of an action hook, while still maintaining the CW’s M.O. of shirtless dudes and teenage romance. Now the CW has debuted Star-Crossed, a show about a boy and a girl from different planets that form a connection after an event from their childhood, set against a back drop of interstellar social injustice. Unfortunately. that back drop is the only thing worth coming back to see.
As previously mentioned, the core of Star-Crossed is the romance between our two main characters — Emery Whitehill (Aimee Teegarden) and Roman (Matt Lanter). The two meet when they are only six years old, just as Roman and his race, the Atrians, crash-land here on Earth, in the year 2014. Their meeting is very short-lived however, as Roman is quickly captured and he, along with all the other Atrians, are rounded up and quarantined into what basically amounts to a prison camp. We really start the show ten years after these events though, as a now 16-year-old Emery is re-entering high school life after a battle with an immune deficiency. Coincidentally, Roman, his sister, and five other Atrians begin a program to try to integrate into the local high school at the same time. And I mean exactly the same time, as in the same day. That really sums up my issue with this portion of the show as well, it’s all so storybook. The show itself is full of conflict and relatable social issues, even drama that is occasionally at its finest. But none of the relatability, none of the drama, translates to what is the central focus of the entire series — the romance between Emery and Roman. It left me wanting more, some reason to care if these two love birds end up together, outside of a chance meeting a decade ago and a desperate need for a plot line.
Where the show does shine though is in the back drop of what is essentially race relations between the Humans and the Atrians. Atrians are of course a complete unknown to us when they arrive, and even ten years later, when we look in on things, the tensions have not died down. There are humans who hold strong grudges for both perceived and actual wrong doings, there are rouge terrorist-like groups on both sides that believe that only a radical approach can solve their problems, and there are politicians, again on both sides, who may not have the best of intentions (I know, shocking…). The human faction of rouges, known as the Red Hawks, make for some really great moments in particular, including what is thus far the best plot twist in the show, and containing one of the only solid acting parts in sight. And while I may be beating a dead horse here, what really makes all of this background noise come into focus and matter is that it is juxtaposed so blaringly against the series’ main story thread, which doesn’t hold a candle to the shows supporting cast, in terms of acting, or depth.
Speaking of the acting, it is really bad. And I know that isn’t the most eloquent of ways in which I, as someone who reviews media for a living, could have phrased that bit of criticism, but sometimes, crude works. Unfortunately for Star-Crossed, crude does not work at all, and yet sadly, is precisely what you get. I think the thing that really makes it stand out is that the dialogue is being hurt from both ends of the spectrum. One on end the writing is bland, predictable (save a few minor exceptions), and thoroughly uninteresting. And then on the other end you have actors who, again, with a few minor exceptions, deliver this stale script with the finesse of a teenager on his first date. I do want to recognize the few stand out performances in the show so far though. Marcus Hester, who plays Robert Vartan, plays the role of a redneck conspiracy theorist who may not be all there quite well, and watching him is a treat after suffering through the majority of the other cast members performances. And Malese Jow as Julia Yeung, Emery’s best friend, who is also a stand out amongst the crowd, making her few scenes really count. I’m hoping both characters play a more substantial role in the rest of the season, if not the series.
Star-Crossed is a show that will be all too familiar for fans of classic CW programming. But for all of you who are new viewers, those that can’t wait for each Wednesday and the great programming that it brings, Star-Crossed will almost certainly let you down. It is possible that the show could redeem itself in the next eleven episodes, it certainly would not be the first to do so. But it’s off to a very rocky start, with a main theme the I don’t really care about, and that, even if I did, is crafted poorly.