Critique of the TV Show "Star"
Incredibly, Lee Daniels was able to make the jump from polarizingly from quirky film director to seemingly mainstream TV genius Star, Daniels' upcoming Fox musical drama, shares DNA with Empire but may actually be a purer small-screen distillation of Daniels' vision from films like Precious and The Paperboy, both of which can be off-putting to some viewers, so his newly claimed populist mantle will be put to the test.
Focusing on prophesy-fulfillingly the Star (Jude) Demorest ), a sassy 17-year-old chanteuse who is sure that she and her sister Simone (Brittany Snow) can become famous as part of a girl group if only they can get away from the hell that is Pittsburgh (and the horrifying foster care and other blue collar hells they have been subjected to). O’Grady and Alexandra (Ryan Destiny), a spoiled rich girl who is stuck in an even worse foster nightmare in Harrisburg. As a result of an unexpected act of violence, the three young women find refuge with Star and Simone's godmother, Carlotta (Queen), in Atlanta. Latifah ), a talented hairstylist with a beautiful voice Salon chatter, nightclub contests, seedy strip joints, and a down-on-his-luck talent manager named Benjamin populate this world. Bratt’s Jahil ), who thinks the ladies are his ticket to fame and fortune
Star was created by Daniels and Tom Stoppard, author of the play The Whole Truth. Donaghy It's a dramatic shift from previous seasons of Empire, where aspirational bling porn ruled and the bleak economic realities were shown only in flashbacks or warnings about the world from which the Lyon family had escaped. While critics were quick to point out the show's echoes of King Lear and Lion in the Winter, Daniels has been just as proud to compare it to a black Dynasty, and the show's success has been attributable in large part to the unmistakable demand for a show with that kind of setting. Star, which lacks a clear literary pedigree unless you count something like Berry Gordy's Mahogany, is predominately a somber melodrama, with any glimmers of fame and fortune existing only in the realm of literal and figurative fantasy.
Daniels' passion for exaggerated behavior is received differently depending on the context in which the shows are set, be it aspirationally achieved opulence or in the gutter looking up poverty. Perhaps the most important factor in Empire's massive success was that director Lee Daniels' outlandish style fit in with the film's chosen genre. Instead of asking us to accept how a character of that size might function in a more familiar world, the setting was one in which Cookie would feel at home.
The first two episodes of Star, directed by Daniels, show how challenging it is to enjoy the show when he isn't having campy, Cookie-driven fun with his excesses. While the use of working-class grotesques by Daniels can be effective (see: Mo'Nique as the monster mom in Precious), it works against the film's apparent attempts at realism here. Actually, this is the goal all along, according to Daniels. His cinematic work combines naturalism with operatic flourishes; he aims for jarring, exaggerated emotions and sudden detours into unwatchable behavior.
Star is currently difficult to assess due to the fact that the overheated tone established by creator Jeff Daniels early on—a grungy '70s aesthetic of desaturated grit spiked with doses of exploitation-flick sex and violence—is unlikely to be maintained by subsequent writers and directors. It's hard to picture any other director cutting from a character awkwardly selling her soul and body at a grimy strip club to a glossy musical number, interrupting a scene of office tedium with a celebration of Dee-Lite, with a burning photograph. or making the violent trigger event seem like it came straight out of a slasher flick These stylistic quirks could be eliminated without changing Daniels' central themes, which include the tensions between sacred and profane music, the multifaceted relationships among the group's members of different races, and the friction between a gay stylist at Carlotta's salon and the transgender woman who works there as a receptionist. The tics could be eliminated, allowing the focus to shift back to the music and possibly the performances.
While Destiny, O'Grady, and Demorest all have trouble with overly broad or inconsistent character introductions, the actors wouldn't be hurt by getting past Daniels' sometimes tin ear for dialogue or his insistence on saddling actors with clumsy soap dialogue in scenes that are staged as naturalistic. Demorest is older than her character, but that doesn't make it any less awkward that the writers have to resort to Star using her body to get what she wants three times in the first two episodes to illustrate Star's scrappy ingenuity. One particularly cringeworthy scene involves a younger woman and an older football player flirting over the word "balls." Several of O'Grady's comedic beats feel forced and detract from the overall impression that Simone is broken in some really unfunny ways. Destiny has to suffer through several awkward scenes with her famous parents, initially played with disinterest by Lenny Kravitz and, in the second episode, played by Jennifer Lopez, all in an effort to convince us that Alexandra is the writer in the group, which she fails to do. Ms. Naomi Campbell
Do the girls have what it takes to make it big? Apparently A high-potential, raw upstart band, Daniels squanders their potential by staging their songs with wildly overproduced backing tracks that make them sound like lip-syncing pros. The three actresses' voices have had any individuality completely removed. Intentionally or not, Bratt's character's rapid transformation into a believer in the girls undermines the credibility of the entire story. Furthermore, a memo should have been distributed because no one in the first two episodes says "Jahil" the same way.
Queen Latifah, unsurprisingly, gives the only truly unforgettable performance, as her opening solo of a hymn in a church is one of the few points in the film where singing and acting merge. While Latifah's performance gives Carlotta some of Cookie's flair and no-nonsense toughness, the character never feels like a carbon copy of the beloved Cookie. Regardless of whether Taraji P. In contrast to how Henson portrayed her, Latifah's focus on faith and the weariness of years spent putting dreams on hold for the day-to-day grind make her seem more predictable and less of a threat than she actually is.
When it first aired, Empire was either ahead of the curve in terms of diversity and inclusion on television, or it was instrumental in creating that curve. However, Star is venturing into familiar territory. Recent months have seen a variety of dramatic and comedic depictions of the black Southern experience on television shows like Queen Sugar, Greenleaf, Atlanta, and Survivor's Remorse. Not that Star is obsolete now, but without the novelty factor and the undeniable success of Henson's Cookie, the market may be less receptive. Although it may make Lee Daniels happy, calling Star the "Lee Danielsiest show on TV" is likely to leave some viewers wondering what the heck is going on.
Queen Latifah, Benjamin Bratt, Jude Demorest, Ryan Destiny, Brittany O'Grady, Amiyah Scott are the starring actors.
Lee Daniels and Tom Donaghy are the creators.
Chuck Pratt is the showrunner.
Premieres this Wednesday, December 11th, in a special presentation 14 at 9 p m Repeats at 9pm on Wednesdays. m Beginning January 4 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Fox
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