*There’s been a lot of talk about Lee Daniel’s new TV show “Star” which premiers tonight on Fox. What a lot of folks want to know is … what’s it about and is it any good? Well, according to Meredith Blake’s review in the LA Times, “Star” is definitely not “cookie cutter” TV.
For starters, the series, set amid troubled foster kids, uninsured single mothers, illegally trafficked immigrants and transgender strippers saving for “bottom surgery,” is just about the starkest depiction of life at the economic margins one is likely to find on a broadcast network. Blending high melodrama with unflinching social realism, “Star” feels more like a cross between “Dreamgirls” and “Precious,” Daniels’ 2009 film about an illiterate, chronically abused Harlem teenager, than another version of “Empire.”
And while cautionary tales about the perils of fame are a Hollywood staple, “Star” is something different. It’s less interested in reminding us of the cost of stardom than in the misery that makes people want to flee ordinary existence to seek it out.
For Star (Jude Demorest – pictured below), who’s just shy of 18 and has spent most of her life cycling through foster families in Pittsburgh, it’s a chance to escape her wretched home life. Street smart and sexually precocious, she’s a female Marshall Mathers, a white girl with an affinity for traditionally black music (and a mixed-race half sister) who is viewed with suspicion by both communities.
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Daniels’ new creation also mixes in race and flips the script somewhat in that the lead character, Star, is a poor white singer in the world of black music which gives her an advantage.
Star is poor and white, which, in the aspirational world of American television, makes her rarer than a sentient robot or charismatic serial killer. She’s also extremely aware of how the system has failed her, railing against the caretakers who “used us for free government checks, free babysitting, free sex.”
But her race also confers on Star some advantages. As “a white girl who can sing R&B,” Star is destined for success because, asserts one character, “even the mediocre ones go platinum.”
Hmm, “Star” just might be on to something. We’ll find out starting tonight when the shew premieres at 9/8c on Fox. You can get the rest of Meridith Blake’s review at LA Times.