Star-crossed Indeed

starcrossedI’m a sucker for a good teen TV drama. Well, that is, a teen drama that doesn’t involve obscenely rich Manhattanite royalty-wannabes or were-vamp-warlock love triangles. So when I saw previews for the CW’s newest soapy offering for the under 18 set, I figured I’d check it out. I’m kind of glad I did because Star-Crossed, the love child of Roswell and Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet (with a good hunk of District 9 thrown into the mix) looks to have all of the tropes I love most in a TV program.

September, 2014, brings about the day that an alien ship crashes to Earth, filled with Atrians looking for refuge after their home planet becomes uninhabitable. They had hoped to find at least a lukewarm welcome from us humans rather than the open hostility shown them in the form of armed soldiers and violent shoot-outs. Six-year-old Emery finds a terrified Atrian boy hiding in her family’s backyard shed and offers him kindness in the form of a blanket and a bowl of cold spaghetti. But alien-sniffing dogs suss out the poor lad who suffers a blaster shot when he throws his tiny body in front of Emery in a heroic attempt to save her.

Cut forward ten years and Emery has grown into the beautiful Aimee Teegarden (hello, Julie Taylor!). Emery has missed the past four years of school due to an auto-immune disease but, through some miracle remission, has been medically okayed to become the new girl at Marshall High. She’s not alone. After ten years of isolating the Atrians in a fenced off city-compound known as the Sector, the local government has decided to allow seven Atrian exchange students to attend Marshall. These lucky teens will serve as guinea pigs for the bigger idea of integrating Atrians into human society as a whole. No pressure.

It doesn’t take long for Roman, the young Atrain boy from the shed (now in the body of a strapping Matt Lanter), to recognize Emery as the girl who had provided his one and only positive human encounter. Emery takes longer to recognize Roman, but she’s thrilled to learn that he didn’t die on that fateful day so long ago. Something about him keeps drawing her gaze, but Emery has bigger problems. Her best friend, Julia, has not responded to her last-ditch treatment for her leukemia. Julia has heard of an Atrian herb that supposedly has healing abilities, and the two girls set out on a quest to find some, even though it means entering the Sector where humans are not permitted to go. Meanwhile, Roman must contend with the bullies at school who don’t want Atrians to have any part of the human world.

I don’t want to give away any more of the pilot episode. You’ll have to check it out for yourself.

Star-Crossed is certainly not revolutionary. It is well-stocked with the requisite prejudicial bullies, bitchy mean girls, and unfortunately coincidental tragedies that I’m sure will cause our protagonists much pain and suffering. All of the characters are CW beautiful, and the stakes for a solid love triangle have been firmly planted in the ground.

That said, although the attraction between Emery and Roman is immediate, in a refreshing twist, they don’t completely ignore it as so many other shows are wont to do in the interest of building up UST for as long as possible. I’m sure it will take plenty of long weeks for Emery and Roman to sludge their way through the hoops they will need to jump, but at least they are already headed in the right direction.

There are things from the Pilot that I do hope get tweaked out of the series. For example, in addition to tattoo-like markings on their faces, necks, arms and presumably other body parts, it seems that Atrians can also be identified by their bad haircuts and predilection for clothing from Hot Topic. Lanter is a good looking young man, but his fauxhawk does him no favors. Nor does the horrible black shaggy bowl cut sported by his Atrian sister, Sophia (Brina Palencia).

I also hope that the writers take time to develop the bullies into more three-dimensional characters with real reasons for their open hatred of all Atrians rather than just because they love mustache twirling in general.

I’m going to ignore the implausibility of some aspects of the series – such as the likelihood of an alien race so closely resembling humans – in the interest of helping me suspend my disbelief because I do want to like this show. The pilot shows a lot of potential, so for now, I’ve given Star-Crossed a Season Pass on my DVR and look forward to wallowing in some fantastic, alien teenager angst.

Star-Crossed airs on the CW Monday nights, 8 p.m./7 p.m. central.

- Jenna AAR

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