Shonda Rhimes Expands on Shakespeare Because Why Not?
by Jenny Reed
Welp, I saw the first episode of the new series out of Shonda Rhimes’ ever-expanding corner of ABC aka Shondaland the other night. It’s called Still Star-Crossed and is a kind of sequel to a little play called Romeo and Juliet that all of us have pretty much been forced to read at some time or other in our lives.
Short Version of My Reaction:
Mostly positive, some negative.
And, given how much the early critics seemed to hate this show, I was actually pleasantly surprised by the fact that I didn’t.
Before I go into the content, I absolutely have to mention the costumes.
If you are into clothing, you will love this solely for the eye candy that is the costuming.
HOWEVER, the powers that be who oversaw the pilot did not see fit to care whether all the clothing came from the same time period, so if you are sufficiently educated on these matters to notice, it will drive you bonkers. This aspect of the series, which some of us notice as well as the writing and that thing actors do and all the rest of that, is pretty but historically inaccurate to the extreme.
As for the plot, I found it satisfying. The episode begins with Romeo and Juliet’s actual wedding and rolls forward from there. As you surely know from having to listen to teachers bang on about the original, these two characters both die.
For some reason, many of the critics had a problem with the concept that the dead people are NOT the main characters. But we already know all there is to know about these two kids. Still Star-Crossed doesn’t need to feature them. It can, and does, show how the wedding and suicides affected those left behind. And in the opening, things do get ugly as tensions in Verona come to a head.
Fortunately, the new ruler of Verona has a solution: to marry a Montague to a Capulet in order to make the two houses one by blood. It’s an intriguing idea, and future episodes, specifically the next one, look like they’ll present an interesting perspective re how things pan out.
As you would expect from the people who created Grey’s Anatomy and the rest of Shondaland, Still Star-Crossed promises to have lots and lots of illicit sex and people sleeping together. In this first episode, you get definitive hints that this is a big part of the future of the show – in fact, probably the main part. You know, pretty much like all of Shondaland.
There are a lot of details I could comment on, but so will everybody else who reviews this show. So I’d like to get right to the absolutely biggest problem I had while watching:
Every single actor had a bad case of the Mumbles. They were like people speaking a language that sounded vaguely like English except that the words weren’t really words.
Because I am anal about hearing everything and because my spouse doesn’t kill me when I do this, I rewound to catch the missed dialog a whole heck of a lot – more than any other show I’ve watched, ever.
If you don’t like the idea of rewinding to catch stuff and your hearing isn’t loads better than mine, perhaps you will want to consider skipping the whole series unless you hear that the actors have been taking articulation lessons.
I’m quite sure it would get confusing if you missed all that stuff that I had to work so hard to catch. Then again, your hearing may be better than mine, or you may have terrific $5000 a pair hearing aids, so things could go better for you.
All in all, I think I can safely say is that Still Star-Crossed is definitely not a show that you can half-watch and expect to follow. In a world filled with no-concentration-needed entertainment, be very aware that for this thing you need to PAY ATTENTION!
Hmm, thinking about it again, I find myself wondering. Maybe, just maybe, having to focus on what we’re watching is a good thing after all?
Jenny Reed is a freelance writer living on the East Coast. Munchman wants her to know that he envies her!