Still Star Crossed Is Not Up to Snuff

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I wanted to like Still Star Crossed (2017) — the show that riffs on what could happen after Romeo and Juliet ends. It’s a historical soap opera currently airing on ABC. The series comes from TV producer Shonda Rhimes and her company ShondaLand, known for mainstream hits like Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and How to Get Away With Murder. The lead writer is listed as Heather Mitchell, who has credits with most of the ShondaLand shows. In addition to the big-name production company, the race-neutral casting made news. But if you’ve paid attention to theater in the past few decades, you’d see it’s no big deal to have actors of various skin colors playing Shakespeare together, so this fit well on multiple levels.

Still Star Crossed (2017)

Spoiler: Romeo and Juliet die in the first 20 minutes of episode one.

What really attracted me was the Shakespearean fanfic aspect. As ye olde literary nerd, I love a good re-imagining of the Bard’s work because I feel that the appeal of Shakespeare is precisely in the timeless themes that can be reimagined and explored in different ways for new audiences.  Starting with what happens after the play Romeo and Juliet ends could provide plenty of characters and situations to work with. But I’ve come away from the first few episodes of this show disappointed because, yet again, this is American network TV dumbing things down for the masses.

Still Star Crossed bounds along a breakneck speed, complete with silly camera effects, that makes it feel more like a modern superhero movie and less like a romantic drama. The show bounces from poorly choreographed sword fights to weak bitch fights to uncomplicated politics with minimal character development or internal reflection. It’s not as aggressively stupid as TNT’s Will seems, but this show is just a lukewarm mess of people doing things to annoy each other for no good reason.

Still Star Crossed (2017)

Benvolio, of the weirdly trimmed leather doublet, and Rosaline, who at least has her hair pinned up.

Rosaline Capulet and Benvolio Montague are being forced to marry each other to unite their warring families and supposedly bring peace to Verona. Rosaline and the prince of the city have a past fling that’s a mild irritation. Neither of their families are super supportive of the marriage, nor does the town think it’ll calm things down. And none of this is particularly grounded in Shakespeare’s plays or in any particular historical era.

 

Costumes in Still Star Crossed

OK, here it comes. What really gives this show a complete and utter feeling of randomness is the costumes. As in “what random historical period are we in?” 14th century? 15th century? 16th century? Victorian? Modern bridal? Because I can’t tell looking by the costumes. The physical setting is generically ye olde timey — lots of stone walls and candles (with exteriors filmed in Salamanca, Spain, and surrounding towns). But the clothes are a WT-Frock fantasy riff on renaissance, just historical enough to show that the tale does not take place in the modern era, but not enough to be set in a specific year. It’s enough of a fantasy style that if dragons or fairies showed up, I wouldn’t be surprised.

Still Star Crossed (2017)

Rosaline and her goody-two-shoes sister Livia go to this party. IDK, maybe it’s a costume party where the theme is “renaissance-y”?

Some costume themes in Still Star Crossed: Modernized ruffs, giant hoopskirts (often with ridge lines), contractually obligated leather pants, modern makeup, frock coats and cravats, overly complicated closures, modern jewelry, heavy handed trimming, and thoroughly modern fabric.There’s even a ‘corset-lacing while holding the bedpost’ scene (without a smock, duh) in the first episode!  You might want to get out your Bad Costume Bingo cards for this one and see how fast you score five across. If you do that as a drinking game, we can’t be held responsible for the results.

Still Star Crossed (2017)

Rosaline starts out being treated as servant by her aunt and uncle. This is probably the most historically accurate outfit in the whole series, so yeah.

Still Star Crossed (2017)

Compare with this promo shot of Lady Capulet (Juliet’s mom, Rosaline’s aunt). Dress borrowed from the set of Reign?

Still Star Crossed (2017)

While Princess Isabella wears knock-off gowns from Elizabeth: The Golden Age.

Still Star Crossed (2017)

Except half the time, her hoop ridges are showing (hint: wear a petticoat or stop using thin Casa Collection satin).

Still Star Crossed (2017)

The caption says this is Lady Tessa Montague, but I think she missed the casting call for The White Princess.

Still Star Crossed (2017)

No, really, Starz is thataway.

Still Star Crossed (2017)

Girl, this dress is doing you no favors. The metal epaulets and belt don’t look “tough,” and that many pleats and darts in that satin are super fussy and unattractive.

Still Star Crossed (2017)

That dress isn’t any better from the side. The inverted “V” waist is killing me.

Still Star Crossed (2017)

And while Prince Escalus ‘s frock coat-ish thing and overly complicated waistcoat may be cool, they are exactly what we mean when we say because: “something is “inaccurate” doesn’t mean we’re saying we don’t like it. Liking is an emotional response. Whether something is accurate is (within a range of interpretation) a fact.”

Still Star Crossed (2017)

Montague uncle and nephew both wear contractually obligated leather pants. Benvolio, in the back, also rocks the hipster beard and hair gel, as you do.

Lest you think it’s just me and the historical / literary purists being harsh on Still Star Crossed, the TV ratings haven’t been so hot. The show was moved from a Monday timeslot to Saturdays, and according to TVline.com “the cast’s contracts are set to expire, which makes this scheduling move a clear sign there won’t be a season 2.” Buh-bye!

 

 

Are you one of the few who watched Still Star Crossed?

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About the author

Trystan L. Bass

Twitter Website

A self-described ElderGoth, Trystan has been haunting the internet since the early 1990s. Always passionate about costume, from everyday office wear to outrageous twisted historical creations, she has maintained some of the earliest online costuming-focused resources on the web. When she’s not dressing up in costumes, she can be found traveling the world with her sweetie and, occasionally, Kendra and Sarah. Her costuming and travel adventures are chronicled on her website, TrystanCraft. She also maintains a popular fashion blog, This Is CorpGoth, dedicated to her “office drag.”

24 Responses

  1. opusanglicanum

    from what I’ve read the population of medieval Italy was fairly ethincally diverse anyway.

    the sleeves of Rosalind’s party dress look like someone treid to tear them off her. but even though that frock coat is massively inauthentic it’s still kind of hot (I might have a minor fetish, not that I make my beloved wear one in the bedroom or anything, that would just be pervy…)

    Reply
  2. Susan Pola Staples

    I’ll watch it for laughs on Cox on Demand. It seems to fill a void left by Reign. I’m sure I’ll fill a Bingo row in the first minute or less.

    Reply
  3. MoHub

    I can’t even tolerate the cold-shoulder look on modern clothes. I certainly don’t want to see it on a “period” dress.

    Reply
  4. Melinda

    OK, so Reign is gone. But do other historical flick costumers take this as a competiton? Is there some sort of a huge prize at the end, we don’t know about? Is this year the snark week, and we’re stuck in a time loop? What will you blog about during snark week?

    Reply
  5. mmcquown

    I had already on the FF FB page about this mess. Given the quality of some of the actors, it’s really wasted potential. And the costumes!!!??? Shudder!

    Reply
  6. drush76

    Granted the costumes are crappy, but I hear that the show itself is pretty good. I haven’t had the opportunity to see it, but I’ll try.

    Reply
  7. Dana

    ALSO. Why is Rosaline a Capulet. If Rosaline is also a Capulet, then why the big “omg Juliet’s a Capulet? OH NOES” when Romeo finds out after the ball in R&J you know what, I’m thinking too hard, not worth it, nvm. Also I love #WTFrock and shall be hashtagging it vigorously.

    Reply
    • indiaedghilli

      Thank you! I thought I was the only one who remembered that Rosaline was Romeo’s crush before he spotted Juliet. And that Rosaline’s unlikely (in the context of the play) to be a Capulet.

      Reply
  8. Laura D

    I had such high hopes for this show and then I watched the first episode and I was so, so confused. The costumes are just so bad. And I know that they’re not going for accuracy, and I can give them some leeway because sometimes you just want a pretty soap opera… but when they brought in a guillotine (a literal guillotine), I had to give up.

    Reply
  9. kathowardfan

    I saw the first episode and there was a guy with buckles on the back of his doublet. And I don’t mean little tiny ones, I mean those big ol’ honkin’ Victorian buckles. They were in the front, too! That, and exposed shirtsleeves. Bonus points for open doublet fronts.

    Reply
  10. ladyaquanine73551

    I was wondering what you ladies would get around to this. It seemed like prime Snark territory, though it appears bad costumes aren’t the only malady this waste of tv time space is plagued with. Bad writing and bad acting that even teenagers wouldn’t fall for also surround this new gold-painted, jeweled turd.

    But then again, ABC is notorious for C-grade crap shows anyway. This is just the latest in their feeble bids to get more people to watch. I honestly don’t know why they haven’t re-named themselves “TV Trash Heap,” considering how far the station has fallen. The only thing my family watches on there are game shows. The one and ONLY reason Shonda Rimes still has work is because her studio can shell out a dozen C-grade TV shows and get just enough ratings to keep ABC afloat. Otherwise, she would have had to close her studio ages ago. Most people don’t even know who she is.

    I’m still mad at them for ruining “Once Upon A Time,” but in retrospect, that show was doomed to fail, considering what direction they were going and what station it was on.

    I was wondering what you ladies would get around to this. It seemed like prime Snark territory, though it appears bad costumes aren’t the only malady this waste of tv time space is plagued with. Bad writing and bad acting that even teenagers wouldn’t fall for also surround this new gold-painted, jeweled turd.

    But then again, ABC is notorious for C-grade crap shows anyway. This is just the latest in their feeble bids to get more people to watch. I honestly don’t know why they haven’t re-named themselves “TV Trash Heap,” considering how far the station has fallen. The only thing my family watches on there are game shows. The one and ONLY reason Shonda Rimes still has work is because her studio can shell out a dozen C-grade TV shows and get just enough ratings to keep ABC afloat. Otherwise, she would have had to close her studio ages ago. Most people don’t even know who she is.

    I’m still mad at them for ruining “Once Upon A Time,” but in retrospect, that show was doomed to fail, considering what direction they were going and what station it was on.

    Those 2 writers do not know how to write good fantasy stories, and are now not even hiding the fact that they’re milking that dying cow for cash.

    Reply
    • ladyaquanine73551

      In regards to “Still Star-Crossed,” my family took one look at it and said, “Wow, what a load of horse crap.” And hit the mute button. If I wanted a fun, racially mixed program to watch, I’d pull out that Roger’s and Hammerstein DVD with Brandy and Whitney Houston in it, or watch “Cinderella” from 2015 again. This show almost feels like an insult. Rosaline isn’t even pretty! And whatever Shakespearean talent she has is wasted on this show. The costumes also all look like they were designed by a teenager whose only research into historical costume involved going to a Renaissance faire, and then walking into some costume warehouse and grabbing every shiny or complicated outfit they could find. I actually kinda like a few of the costumes shown here, but again, they look awful in this kind of setting. They would look better in a fantasy Renaissance kingdom.

      Reply
  11. ladyaquanine73551

    I’m starting to see what you mean about modern fabrics being used. I didn’t originally notice that sort of thing until I read a few articles on here and learned a little bit about identifying them. I sincerely doubt they had such shiny, stretchy fabric in northern Italy during the 1400s. (I know Shakespeare’s plays were supposed to be timeless, but many of the ones in Italy seem to take place during THEIR Renaissance, which was much earlier than England’s, mostly in the early 15th century). The men in particular wouldn’t be excited about someone ripping up their tapestries or furniture just so they could have doublets to wear.

    If they aren’t gonna make it to Season 2, I say, “Woohoo! Yay! Intelligence wins the day!”

    The only thing worth remembering about this show was the pop song they were playing during the commercial. You can find it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ac4J9344s2s

    Reply
  12. Hawke

    Personally, I rather like the costumes over all, because they are so mishmash. It fits with the sort of timeless Shakespeare feeling I think they were going for. I like that so far the characters seem to have their own somewhat distinctive styles.

    That said. Those. Fucking. Hoop ridges. Oh my god. Please no. Please, please put on a petticoat, for the love of god, please.

    Reply
  13. Janet Nickerson

    Why does the dress in the 1st photo of Rosaline look like it has some of those fabric towels on rollers from a public bathroom on it?

    Reply
  14. Laura

    The first picture you had of this show ( The wide scene of the funeral I guess), I was thinking “well, that doesn’t look look too bad”.
    Then….every picture after, my cringing increased. Lord love a duck, I can buy butterwick patterns that would be more accurate and far more flattering.

    Reply
  15. Patricia

    do we really expect a network to come up with something HA? This is pure fantasy, for the tween crowd and the romance novelist crowd. I would stick to something that is supposed to be accurate, like PBS stuff.

    Reply
  16. Greg Ansley

    Saw this for the first time last night. My dear god!! The costumes are only eclipsed by the really bad acting and script. I swear one character was wearing a green polyester “I Dream of Jeannie” reject. So much synthetic fiber, so many pairs of ill fitting leather pants, so much gell. I swear I saw modern (well 70’s) curlers in one scene. So much polyester chiffon, so much shiny, so much just BF ugly. Someone needs to burn all of these costumes before they enter the rental market. They could effect bad period dramas for decades

    Reply

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