Overview/ Review (with Spoilers)
There is a certain realness it seems Star is trying to have. Be it addressing Rich Black privilege, self-medicating/ addiction, or even something as small as noting when girls go to the bathroom it can stink like hell too. Making it so it almost seems like Daniels, with this show, is trying to bridge the gap between the world crafted in Precious with her perceptions of the music industry seen in Empire.
Depiction of Drug Use
Topic 1: Meet The Parents (Roland [Lenny Kravitz], Rose [Naomi Campbell], and Alexandra)
Thanks to her credit card use, Roland and Alexandra’s mother Rose find her and are ready to take her back home. However, with them still not seeing eye to eye and with her so invested in making her group work, she rejects them. Though with her parents coming to Carlotta’s salon comes her fully being exposed as a liar and this causing issues with everyone.
To begin, Rose seems like such an unnecessary character and while I do enjoy Naomi Campbell, it seems that Lee Daniels is giving her the opportunity to transition into acting but not in roles which challenge her or our perception of her. It’s not like what he has had Mariah Carey do in the past. Campbell playing rich, bougie, and living up to this persona many have of her isn’t interesting. Especially within the world of Star where, even if she got a drinking problem, we haven’t seen the full extent of it and while it seems Roland’s infidelity and selfishness has affected her, it isn’t felt with her performance.
That aside, it seems this whole lying thing blew over way too fast. Derek, Alexandra’s boo thing, he forgives her too quickly and while it seems Derek is legitimately into her, at the same time I can only hope Miss Bruce and Cotton keep this revelation from being treated as honkey dory. She is the daughter of a superstar millionaire. That can’t just be swept under the rug and not change how people act around her. At least for a while.
Topic 2: Anything For A Dream (Star and Jahil)
With Alexandra’s parents showing up, and her dad seemingly keen on taking his daughter home and working on her solo career, Star decides to get involved. She starts by warning Jahil he needs to step his game up and then she goes to Roland’s hotel and almost sleeps with him to get a favor. Something Jahil damn near had to do for a woman named Maggie (?) who, with Arlene not wanting her son to invest in this group, he ends up having to do some kind of favor. One dealing with drugs.
Star is so trashy, yet she owns it. Weirdly, something about that just makes her character appealing. It’s like with Cookie in a way. Cookie knows she is ghetto fabulous and is completely unashamed of it. Making it where you aren’t shocked, and while at times you may look at Star or Cookie, as a caricature, it’s only because reality TV has made people like that such a joke that you forget sometimes there are real people like that. People who don’t have money to fall back on as people think and verbalize they see them as jokes. So, they do what they can, they do what they know, so while Star is a self-proclaimed whore, at the same time being willing to go to that extent to get what she wants has gotten her here. Maybe not in the best mindset, but she is alive and has survived. Which you can’t knock.
As for Jahil, this character needs to be beefed up quick. We need to see the days of Mixed Harmony and his fall from grace because the character is slowly seeming like an afterthought in the grand scheme of things. For, like Rose in a way, while you recognize his role is important in establishing a character’s backstory, you aren’t necessarily sure what point is there in investing in his future on the show?
Topic 3: Your Guilt Will Eat Away At Your Soul (Simone & Carlotta)
Simone and Carlotta got some secrets. Carlotta’s secrets deal with the full story of what happened between her, the girl’s mom Mary, and Jahil. For Simone, her secret deals with Otis and not just him raping her but her assumption that Star killed him. Something she is having nightmares about and is trying to self-medicate her pain away with, but with her blacking out at church, and Otis asking Star’s caseworker where his daughter is, it seems Carlotta is going to get the full experience of raising these two wild girls.
While I’m admittedly downplaying the possible importance of Jahil and Rose, I feel like Simone and her story is slept on. For while we have characters, Black women, who deal with trauma and addiction, they are in power positions and fit into that whole ability to fall back on something, something often being money, so they can just isolate themselves and get themselves together. Which for Simone, isn’t an option. Like Star, she lacks privilege and access to any healthy coping mechanisms. But rather than be driven by the hustle, she is drowning. Something I wish led to her being focused on more since while Star may talk about how bad her life has been, with Simone you feel it.
Carlotta too, in a way, but I feel with her being passed that part of her life, while you recognize and connect with the struggle, we need the full details. But still, with that said, Queen Latifah is definitely more than the momma to the girls at the salon but to the girls on this show. In an Omari Hardwick or Nicholas Hoult way, she is the best of all characters and you can see her doing the heavy work in building them all and making you want to invest in what may happen.