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ABC’s New Show: Still Star-Crossed

by Christian Lakew, Staff Writer

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ABC recently debuted its first premiere episode of Still Star-Crossed. Still Star-Crossed is about the events that unravel following the death of Romeo (played by Lucien Laviscount) and Juliet (played by Clara Rugaard), both of whom were shortly lived in the first episode, as they died in the end just like in the original Shakespearean play, Romeo and Juliet. Although the show is based off the book with the same name, by Melinda Taub, this tv series was created by Heather Mitchell, with its executive producers being Betsy Beers, Michael Offer, and the one and only, Shonda Rhimes — creator of Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal.

Based on the pilot, it seems that the show’s main protagonist is a young woman named Rosaline (played by Lashana Lynch), belonging to the Capulet family. Following the death of our beloved star-crossed lovers, we see the feud between the Montagues and Capulets strain even further, especially as the prince of Verona, Prince Escalus (played by Sterling Sulieman), the highest ruling authority over both families and everyone else in the city, strives to establish peace between the two families by arranging a forced marriage between Rosaline Capulet and Benvolio Montague (played by Wade Briggs). Benvolio Montague was a cousin and close friend of Romeo’s, and was in fact the only other Montague whom Romeo had told of his secret relationship with Juliet, and helped him conduct his secret rendezvous with her. Similarly, just as Benvolio was to Romeo, Rosaline was to Juliet, meaning she too was the only other person in her family of the Capulets who knew of Juliet’s secret relationship with Romeo. So after the announcement is made by the prince in regards to Benvolio’s and Rosaline’s marriage, more drama arises as secrets become revealed.

What makes this show unique is not just the plotline of course, but the actors and actresses portraying these characters. This entire cast is racially diverse, with in fact the seemingly main character of the show, Rosaline Capulet, being played by a black woman. A black person to not just be portraying a character in a Shakespearean adaptation, but the lead, is a huge mile stone. Along with that, the actors playing Romeo Montague and Prince Escalus are both black too. Also, playing Prince Escalus’s sister, Princess Isabella, is an Iranian-American woman (Medalion Rahimi).

It is comforting to see iconic characters being played by diverse groups of people, whether he or she is black, hispanic, Asian, or European, because as to what makes iconic characters iconic (for the most part) is not so much what they look like as it is the qualities they exude. A good example of this is James Bond.

There has been a lot of talk from fans that Idris Elba would be a great fit to play the new James Bond, because he is both a colored man (meaning he is not Caucasian, but could be hispanic, black, Arab, etc.), and on top of that a phenomenal actor of course. Part of what makes Bond so iconic is how he handles himself with such suave and confidence, which in turn enables him to save the world and get the girl, instead of the color of his skin.
For a diverse audience, shows and movies need to be diverse to show that different communities within a race, family background, sexual orientation, and so many more forms of diversity, can also resemble qualities like being confident, kind, strong, and beautiful. Traits like these do not have a preferred color, gender, or specific background. The same goes for negative traits as well. Therefore any actor/actress can play anyone. Getting people to constantly play cliche characters keeps these groups of people in a box, where they’ll furthermore feel constrained and unable to express themselves naturally. So if there’s anything to take from this show, it’s this.

Now, as for the actors’ acting, I would personally say it’s fine for the most part overall. But there were a couple of characters in particular whose acting I did profoundly enjoy. They were both Rosaline Capulet and Benvolio Montague. Their acting was very on point with their plotlines, making them even more enriched and dramatic with each line they say. This made me more engaged in them when they came on screen as opposed to the other characters. Also, something I did notice was that the entire show put on a British accent, but while some of the actors and actresses are British, some of the others are American. So when they imitate the British accent, sometimes it can be a bit noticeable and sound a bit forced and unnatural. These American actors/actresses include the actor playing Prince Escalus, and the actress playing Princess Isabella. This was my only problem. Despite this observation, I really do think that all the actors/actresses portraying these characters act well enough to seamlessly continue the story and both engage and entertain the audience in what’s happening.

Overall, if you like drama, scandal, beautiful sets — along with clothing just as beautiful– but above all, romance (after all, this show is based off the most famous love story ever told), then this show is definitely something I recommend you try watching for yourself.

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ABC’s New Show: Still Star-Crossed