The CW has started its midseason schedule, which includes a new show. “Star-Crossed,” which appears to be the CW’s attempt at the science fiction genre, begins in 2014, with an alien spaceship crashing outside of Baton Rouge, La. The main character, Emery, is six when the Atrians arrive. She is in the kitchen with her family when she hears something outside. After going into her shed to investigate, she happens upon a young boy with strange markings on his face. After bringing him a blanket and some cold spaghetti for breakfast, they are found in the shed by the police. The young alien stands in front of her to protect her and is shot by the police. The show then flashes forward to 2024, and Emery is now 16, and about to attend her first day of school, after being homeschooled for the last 4 years. At school, Emery and her classmates watch as protestors hurl insults at the “Tatties,” a derogatory name for the tattoo-like markings that distinguish the aliens from the humans. Emery and Roman, the boy she saved 10 years before recognize each other.
The rest of the episode includes an introduction to high school cliques for Emery and the Atrians, and a few verbal skirmishes between the humans and Atrians. At the end of the day the Atrians are taken back to the “sector,” which is basically an internment camp outside of Baton Rouge, while the human teenagers all get ready for a bonfire in the woods. Even though the Atrians can only leave the sector to attend school, they decide to crash the party and teach the humans a lesson. After a fight in the woods, the cops arrive and chase off the humans and Atrians. Meanwhile, Emery and Roman have a reunion in the woods. I don’t want to spoil any more, so you will have to watch the last ten minutes to find out what happens next.
While I commend the CW’s attempt to venture beyond contemporary storylines, I found “Star-Crossed” to be a poor rewrite of “Roswell,” a WB show that aired from 1999 to 2001. The CW’s typical formula involves hot actors, a love triangle, and great music. “Star-Crossed” is no exception, and while the music from the first two episodes has been great, that is about the only good thing I have to say about the show. While the actors who play Emery and Roman give it their best, and do succeed for short moments in channeling their best Romeo and Juliet stuck in the tech age, the writing and plot lack depth. Emery’s trusty sidekick walks her through the school and introduces the cliques, Mean Girls” style, which means the CW has done little research on high schools, or cannot be bothered to get rid of that stereotype, because no one goes around introducing cliques to the new kid.
I also have a problem with the “aliens,” if you can even call them that. They all look like humans, only twice as good looking and equipped with 8-packs and tattoos.They should have taken a page out of Syfy’s textbook on all things alien. Then there is the CW’s attempt at providing conflict, which I found to be very shallow. Perhaps because I am a nerd, and aware of important historical events, but I immediately realized that the show is drawing from World War II and the Civil Rights Movement. The Atrian 7 are clearly based on the Little Rock 9, which was the first group of black students to attend a public unsegregated high school in Arkansas after the Brown v. Board of Education decision. In that case, a soldier was assigned to each student, and in “Star-Crossed” soldiers guard the school and Atrian sector to “protect” the students and Atrians. The slurs were also just too much; every time someone yelled “Tattie” I cringed. Also, the Atrians are forced to live in an internment camp, which again is reminiscent of America’s history during World War II. The real issue is that the CW assumes that despite things like the Civil Rights and Gay Rights movements, our reactions would be the same today as they have been in the past.
I will admit that I was excited that the CW was widening their horizons, and being a fan of science fiction TV shows like “Roswell,” “Buffy,” and “Defiance,” I was hoping for another great show to binge watch. I think that CW had a chance to make a great show with depth and the ability to entertain, instead they decided to follow the basic formula that gives their teen viewers something superficial to enjoy on a basic level, instead of giving them a TV show with complexity. The only problem with shows like this is that they lack staying power, and last only as long as they are latest obsession. I will definitely give it one more episode, but I would be pretty surprised if it gets better. At least the music is good.
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