The Music Is the Highlight on Lee Daniels’ Star

Star Series Premiere Plot Summary:

Star (Jude Demorest), Simone (Brittany O’Grady), and Alexandra (Ryan Destiny) journey to Atlanta in search of fame and fortune as a musical group.

Empire has been a big success for Fox, so it felt like double dipping when I heard that Lee Daniels was also producing Star. Fox has made an effort to link the two series as well, airing the first episode right after Empire‘s mid-season finale. And Terrence Howard’s Lucious Lyon is even slated to make an appearance on Star.

Photo Credit: Tommy Garcia/FOX

When I’m watching a new series one thing I keep in mind is whether or not a full series run (somewhere around 65 to 78 episodes for streaming/cable, at least 100 for most broadcast shows) is feasible with the premise. With Star I’m not really sure. Rise to stardom stories are usually reserved for film. I can also kind of see this working as a Broadway musical. Viewers might not want to tune in weekly to see Star and company break into the music industry when they’re not real people. The draw of the show needs to be the characters.

Star comes from a sympathetic enough background. After their mother died from an overdose, she and her sister entered the foster parent system only to be completely failed by it. Her evil stepmother-esque background is kind of cliché, though it’s only one of many foster situations she’s had. Meanwhile Simone’s foster father sexually abuses her. There’s usually a bit of controversy when sexual assault is featured in a work of fiction but this is an intergral part of Simone’s character that I’m sure will be explored more. It’s a bit hard to defend Star stabbing him with a butcher’s knife when all she probably had to do was threaten him with it, since that puts them in a world of trouble, but I can understand why she did it in the moment. It just feels unnecessary, plot-wise.

Another unnecessary element is Alexandra’s entire scheme. Her father, played by Lenny Kravitz, is already a big celebrity but she wants to make it on her own, feeling that the music they’re producing together is stale and souless. But using Star and Simone is silly and by far the hardest way to get things done. So what if her dad didn’t care about Star? There are easier plans than singing at bar contests and at strip clubs. Star is also somewhat using Simone but she’s not as unlikeable as Alexandra.

The setting of the show definitely has an edge to it, with it having a working class urban feel. Certainly not the nicest part of town. It’s a little weird how they keep bringing up race and how Star is white and her sister is half white but maybe that’s just me. I grew up in the suburbs.

Pictured Left to Right: Jude Demorest, Ryan Destiny and Brittany O’Grady in the special premiere of STAR airing Wednesday, Dec. 14. Photo Credit: Tommy Garcia/FOX

But even though hip-hop is not my thing, I can appreciate the work that went into this show’s music and I even found myself enjoying the girls’ rhymes and Queen Latifah’s gospel. If they were going to get one thing really right, it had to be this. It does come off a little strange when that vocals sound like they were recorded in a studio (because they were) and that we hear instruments playing that aren’t being played, but it’s clear it’s in Star’s imagination. It is odd that you would hire a musical act for a party with no instruments or speakers though (if I’m not mistaken).

I don’t expect Star to be a massive success like Empire, since it only has some of the family drama angle and I don’t think any of the characters will be breakouts like Empire‘s Cookie. However, the music might keep it alive for at least a season or two. I’m certain the show’s album will sell well. Whether or not the big names like Queen Latifah and Lenny Kravitz will stick around, I’m more doubtful about.

RATING: 6.5 OUT OF 10 (AVERAGE)

Star Will Return in January on Fox

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Aaron Sarnecky is Pop-Break’s television editor and covers Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., among other things. He is a graduate of Rowan University with a degree in television and film. He probably remembers that show you forgot existed. Follow him on Twitter: @AaronSarnecky

Aaron Sarnecky is The Pop Break’s Television Editor and covers Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., among other things. He is a TV/Film grad of Rowan University and the fraternal twin of staff writer Josh Sarnecky. He probably remembers that show you forgot existed.