Oh Brawling Love: Star-Crossed Ain’t Shakespeare

Star-Crossed (Photo: The CW)
Star-Crossed (Photo: The CW)

The CW puts a sci-fi twist on Romeo & Juliet in the new series Star-Crossed. Although there are ideas that could be interesting, the show can’t break out of the tropes which define its network.

Star-Crossed gives a science fiction twist to the classic story of Romeo & Juliet. After an alien ship crashes outside of New Orleans in the not-too-distant future (September 2014, to be exact), the national guard quickly contains the visiting Atrians as violently as possible. A seven-year-old alien manages to runaway and hide in a shed. A human child finds him and they quickly develop a friendship until the authorities track the alien down and capture him.

Fast forward 10 years and the Atrians, now living in a military-policed ghetto, are integrating into the local public school.1 Roman, one of the seven aliens entering the school, makes eyes at Emory (“Em”). It turns out these are the same kids from ten years ago, but integration is going as well as it did at Little Rock High School way back when.

As we learn throughout the pilot, inter-species relations are not good as the kids get all West Side Story almost instantly. The only thing working in the Atrians’ favor are medicinal herbs that may or may not cure cancer (we’ll find out next week). Despite inherent conflict, the overly-stylized CW is not the best home for this story. The only characteristic separating the aliens from the humans are tattoos, but everyone is the beige the network seems so fond of casting. The world of 2024 is not all that different from the world of 2008, though the school seems well-appointed despite being next to a military installation. The main characters seem nice the way oatmeal is nice while the supporting characters fall out of memory almost instantly.

I appreciate what the CW is attempting with Star-Crossed. They are hitting many of the beats of Romeo & Juliet and attempts to modernize the Bard are always welcome. But the stakes of this particular story do not lend themselves to long-term serialization. By the end of the pilot, the show was already running on fumes, which doesn’t work when you already know the source material is a tragedy.

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  1. I appreciate the optimism that public education is still intact.  

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About Mike McComb 667 Articles
Mike has been writing about TV online since 2008, when he started the blog WTF Little House on the Prairie? The blog was a project to practice writing about television analytically prior to getting an MA in Television-Radio-Film from Syracuse University, or as he likes to call it "TV Camp." After a lengthy stint at TVLatest, Mike wanted to launch a site that brought in classic TV, diamonds in the rough, and the shows everybody watches. E-mail: mike@whatelseison.tv