The Tudors. Outlander. Downtown Abbey. The White Princess. Reign. 5 of my favorite shows – all of which are historical drama series with gorgeous costumes. 2 of the 5 (The Tudors and Reign) star Torrance Coombs. So when I found out that ABC was producing a new period drama starring Torrance Coombs (!!!) with great costumes (!!!) and Shonda Rhimes as the executive producer, I got ALL THE FEELS. Add in the fact that it was a sequel of sorts to one of the best literary works of all time and it’s a tv adaptation of a book written by Melinda Taub and, well, I
was all in. I wrote the premiere date for ABC’s Still Star-Crossed in my planner, and eager to be immersed in Verona.
I set the bar high. ABC was attempting to imagine what happened between the Montagues and Capulets after the death of the ill-fated lovers from one of Shakespeare’s greatest plays. Without real history to dictate the terms of what would happen, Shonda had free reign over the storyline. On one hand, this woman created Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal – two shows that feature witty, inspiring dialogue and strong female leads. On the other hand, Still Star-Crossed would be her first period drama and one without a historic framework to anchor the plot.
I sat back with my bowl of popcorn and told my husband not to interrupt me unless someone was bleeding. My initial judgments were based on looks. The sets are incredible, the costumes are elaborate and the cast was diverse. Let’s talk about this last point in particular. Of the 5 period dramas that I mention how many of them featured a lead that wasn’t white? Zero. That’s right, none. Even the Tudors, had an Irish woman playing Spanish princess/English Queen, Catherine of Aragon. See why diversity in a historical drama is MAJOR? This cast features men and women of color starring as the rulers of Verona. Well done, Shonda!
Now, let’s move on to the plot. Torrance Coombs, who plays Paris, spends most of the first two episodes writhing in pain after an injury inflicted by Romeo before he dies. He was one of the main reasons I tuned in, but he’s had maybe 5 minutes of screen time. Disappointing, but I moved on. The dialogue is sadly lacking in Shonda’s signature fast-paced wit, but it sticks more closely to the cadences of the time so I let that go too.
It wasn’t until I sat down to write this that I realized, I can’t tell you more than 5 minutes of what happened in the first 2 episodes. There was dramatic screaming, illicit kisses and a king who changed his mind so often it gave me whip-lash, but honestly, I can’t tell you much more. The two patriarchs of the houses were old, rich, white dudes I couldn’t tell apart. Aside from Rosamund and Paris, I know no one’s name. I’m not shipping any of the romances that are beginning to bloom and I can’t keep up with who hates whom.
Still reeling from the season endings of Victoria, The White Princess, and The Crown, I’m looking for something to fill the void. I am their target audience and if I can’t get invested in this show, then I can’t see anyone else getting invested either. I’m going to continue to give it a chance, mostly because it’s Summer so there aren’t many options on TV. But frankly, I predict this show getting canceled.
Anyone else get a chance to catch ABC’s Still Star-Crossed? What did you think?