Season 3 of Star is honestly a mixed bag, but when it addresses generational trauma and growth, it reminds you why you fell in love with the series.
|Creator(s)||Lee Daniels, Tom Donaghy|
|Genre(s)||Musical, Comedy, Drama|
|Good If You Like||Urban Drama
R&B and Gospel Music
Messy Storylines & Characters
Hard Conversations Between Friends & Family About Topics Which Caused Trauma
|Isn’t For You If You||Don’t Like Large Ensemble Casts In Which Some Cast Members Are Forgotten Periodically
The Occasional Over The Top Performance
|Miss Bruce||Miss Lawrence|
|Miss Ruby||Juanita Jennings|
|Xander||Chad Michael Murray|
|Amber Drake||Erika Tham|
|Lil’ Dini||Marcos Palacios|
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Star: Season 3 Summary
Miss Bruce Had A Storyline For A While
Since the beginning, Miss Bruce often played the role of someone who’d come in for a quick quip, comeback, or clapback. However, in season 2 Derek hit a nerve, and it led you to wonder if that was going to trigger them going deeper with the character. Well, it took a whole season, but the writers finally got there. Mind you, a lot of discovering Miss Bruce was triggered due to their relationship with Bobby, but with going into that relationship, we eventually were led to a small bit of Miss Bruce’s upbringing in the church.
Now, mind you, Miss Bruce devolved back to providing quips in the second half of the season, but at least in the first half, they got their overdue spotlight.
I don’t know about you, but I was ready for Cassie to kick rocks a long time ago. Mostly because she was annoying and not in a love to hate kind of way, but more in a “You can keep Brandy around this long but can’t get Lenny Kravitz to show up again?” But Kravitz’s absence is a whole other subject. Getting back to Cassie, one of the things you have to appreciate is that, while it is still noted she killed Jahil, and how much drama she brought, rather than doing a 180 and changing who she is, she evolved.
Yes, she still was an emotional gangster, but even when she was trying to compete with Carlotta, it became clear it was because she wanted to be like her. After all, Carlotta raised her, took care of her, and we learn she protected her from being raped. And it is probably in learning Calvin was doing that to Carlotta we see Cassie take a turn. For there wasn’t a whole lot of questioning, asking for proof, and putting the burden on Carlotta. Instead, she was ready to whoop Calvin’s ass and was understanding. Showing what seemed to be another joke of a character had depth and not just because she was in a toxic relationship for most of her teen years and adult life but, that she was an actual person.
And that is probably the best thing about Cassie. Over the course of, a season and a half maybe, we were shown what Star does best. That is, take a character, trope, or stereotype, especially one which is rooted in the perception of people who live in urban areas and expand it. Show the humanity of said person and get past the antics and dig to the root. Thus helping you understand how they went from a kid who went to church on Sunday to someone who is selling drugs, killing people, and is ratchet. Which, in the long run, is only but one side to them and is not the summary of their person.
While Simone growth isn’t a straight line but zigzags based on whoever invests in her at the time, there is no denying that this season she became a woman. Not because of her marriage to Angel and now being comfortable in her sexuality. More so, she learned to speak up for herself, others, step up beyond going off on people, and arguably wasn’t dependent on someone else to do all that.
For if you look back on Simone’s journey, she had Star as a crutch, Carlotta, Ayanna, Karen, Nina, and even Angel to a certain degree. Every leap forward had some form of hand-holding. Yet, while one can argue Mateo guided Simone to become an immigration advocate, her voice, her challenging racists, that was all her. Then, when you bring in taking care of Davis, Star’s child, that was a whole new level.
Now, granted, when we talk about growth, let’s not forget the child isn’t even 20. So a lot of this came from trying to keep up with Star or for the sake of survival. Yet, I think season 3 for Simone finally showed her going beyond survival, hitch riding on Star’s dream, and really crafting a life for herself. One which she had control over and chose. Since, for a long ass time, it seemed Simone wanted to quit Take3 but figured Star would cut her off if she did so she just kept half-assing her dance moves and vocals in the background unless she had to put in some effort.
Like Miss Bruce, Miss Ruby is a well known comic relief on the show. One which has had a few moments, but she’d come and go so often that each return felt like an event. Well, unfortunately, while a bit more consistently seen in season 3, it dealt with the character getting raped. Which was horrifying yet it also gave the actress some meat to chew on. It allowed her to show her dramatic chops and once you added in her helping Alex with the trauma she was going through, it pushed you to wonder when Lee Daniels was going to get Juanity Jennings her own show. Since, clearly, she is overdue.
When The Show Sets Aside The Soap Opera Drama & Nonsense
One of the silver linings, saving graces, or what have you, that may keep a wavering fan from dropping this show is when it decides to get real. For whether it is family issues like we see with Noah addressing the trauma his parents put him through, or Carlotta being raped by Calvin, the show is willing to dig deep and set the antics aside. To give the weight of someone losing their child, and how that can affect a relationship space. If not, in the case of Bobby, admitting to his faults as a father, someone’s ex, and trying to be a better person. It is in these moments that Star truly shines, no pun intended and reminds you this show had far more to offer than a few bops and being in tune with its lead in Empire.
What these moments, amongst many not named, gives you is what Lee Daniels’ brand is partly known for. That is, as noted with Cassie’s praise, showing people the stories that often go untold. Be it family secrets, traumas which most would rather let eat them alive than bring out, or having those hard conversations most can’t even fathom how to begin. Star does that, every few episodes, and in season three they came hard.
I mean, Carlotta confronting Christine about what Calvin did was a moment. Noah addressing his parent’s role in his addiction was something to cry about. Heck, even Cassie finally quitting Xander, after all she did to Carlotta, made you want to clap for she finally seemed through with his ass.
Star Going To Prison & Put In A Coma
Star being knocked out of commission is one of the reasons you’ll feel like other characters got their chance to shine. Alex especially who, for most of this series, honestly was getting played. If it wasn’t for her being dark skinned, her storyline was wrapped up in Derek or whatever drama their relationship was having. But with Star out of commission, she got to step forward and get that spotlight she rarely got for more than a moment.
Making you wonder what this show would have been like without Simone and Star’s involvement, and would it have been better or worse?
How Characters Are Written Off
After three seasons, all with mid-season and season finale cliff hangers, it has long been clear this show does not believe in letting the majority of its characters just leave. Only Ayanna got to do that, and her abrupt exit made for an awkward beginning. But she isn’t alone and just follows a pattern – especially if the character is involved with Simone. Take Nina, Mateo’s wife. She was having a thing with Simone, while Angel was stuck in DR, and sort of picked up with Ayanna left off in trying to get Simone where she should be as an 18 or 19-year-old. That is, as opposed to where Star is, which is a hot mess. Yet, like anyone who invests too much in Simone, she was written off. Luckily not by death, as Karen was in season 2, but considering Angel got shot in the finale, it seems death might be exclusive to committed love interest.
But it isn’t just those involved with Simone, we got how Andy was handled, Miss Ruby’s over the top death, and even Gigi and Joyce’s exit. Characters on this show often show up, make an impression, and while some get to stick around, longer than you expect, like Jackson and Maurice, others get tossed seemingly once the writers get bored. And rather than challenge themselves to take things up a notch, they just set them to possibly die during a finale and see if anyone can come up with a last-minute reason to save them.
Mateo Fizzled Out
Mateo is a good example of this. When he first arrived, the person who bought the label, had big plans, and all that, he came off long term and like a challenge for Carlotta and the girls. However, by the end of the season, he burnt out. Nina left him, some girl from Cuba came and went from his life within 3 or so episodes, and he got discredited to the point where his death seemed like a mercy killing. For he didn’t have anything left to add to the show.
Another example of a character who came in hot but fizzled out was Xander. With him being this kid who went from Cassie’s childhood boo to this gangster who strung her along, he seemed like he could be a decent villain. However, between kidnapping Cotton’s kid and Cassie being through with him, it seemed like the main point of keeping him was the name Chad Michael Murray versus him still being useful to the story. Since, while Cassie became appealing because of her drama with him, and how that led to Carlotta intervening, after a certain point you just had to roll your eyes when he popped up.
The Absence of Alex’s Parents
The problem with Alex’s storyline is that it is rooted in her issues with her parents. Which makes the fact her parents are played by Naomi Campbell and Lenny Kravitz a huge problem since, be it scheduling or not wanting to be on the show anymore, it makes it so Ryan Destiny has to do all the heavy lifting. She gets no one to play off of, besides Derek really, and it takes away from the impact of what she is going through. Especially since we haven’t seen her dad since season 1 so him being mentioned created a terrible tease of what was never going to happen.
Derek, Without Alex
Remember when Derek was an activist? How about when he decided to invest in Karma and was going to do events there? I remember those times, but somehow he just ended up Alex’s boyfriend who seemed like he didn’t like leaving the house. Pushing the idea that this show, as it has been since season 1, arguably, was way too bloated for this many characters. Making it so, unless you were funny, you would have a minor part which was just an easy check.
Which isn’t to downplay Derek looking for who raped Miss Ruby or his role as being supportive to Alex. It’s just, as much as you see a lot of other characters grow, it’s sad to watch him devolve as much as he did.
While I understand Nealla Gordon is one of Lee Daniels’ favorite actresses to work with, hence her being in many of his productions, I do not understand why they keep bringing her back. Arlene was bad enough in season 1, but her return in season 2 as a twin named Charlene was a bit much. But her coming back one more time in season 3, after killing Brody, to screw with Star and her baby? It just felt lazy. Nevermind how they got back at Charlene for what she did to Star and the fact Charlene didn’t keep coming for Star after she got caught messing around with that judge.
When Amber is introduced, she seemed sweet and like it was just her management which were ass****s. We see her again, and now she is an ass****. Then, she is dating Jackson, grabbing his ass, and making deals to fix the ASAs in her favor. All this from some random character whose name I only remember since I’ve wrote it a few times. I just don’t understand the point of her inclusion at all. What was she supposed to bring or was she an idea later on scrapped like Derek and Soraya in season 2?
This Might Be Set In Atlanta, But Atlanta’s Culture Feels Ignored
Considering Star and the rest barely leave the city of Atlanta, never mind the state of Georgia, no matter how big we’re told they are, you’d think they would have fleshed out the city more. Make it out to be vibrant, have life, instead of mostly just making whatever part of Atlanta they’re in crime infested. Which is the big issue of season 3. The past seasons had the girls outside, we got to see people in the salon who were locals, and you got some sense of what Atlanta is like and maybe southern culture. This season, especially towards the end, the show just eradicated presenting a sense of culture and just felt like a whole bunch of sets which could be anywhere.
Keeping it short and sweet: Why is he still around? I get he was assumed to be Davis’ father and is one of the few exes of Star’s who isn’t dead, unmet, and not a hot mess, but is there anything planned for him or, like Derek, is he just meant to be eye candy, and that’s all?
Can Miss Bruce & Cotton Maintain Their Storylines?
Miss Bruce finally got a man, and after a while, Bobby was just referenced and rarely seen. Cotton, after things quieted down with her son, that boy was never seen again. Then, suddenly, she is working at a club and comes across some trans sex workers, moves them into her father’s trailer, and no sooner does she get involved with them, she shoots their former pimp, and they disappear. But you know, while more serious storylines come and go, it seems the writers have no issue making them stereotypical queer characters always prepped to deliver a funny line.
Which, to me, seems so weird since you’d think Miss Bruce and Cotton would be championed on here. Yet, often, it seems like they are kept around to keep the actors getting paid. And while an easy check can be a good check, it seems like they are wasted on this show. Following suit with many characters who are queer, but don’t fit gender norms and once their backstory is told, the writers seem unsure what else to do with them.
Star Inconsistently Maturing Then Reverting To Her Old Self
In Simone’s section, it is noted she is moving past survival, with Star that isn’t the case. She shows signs she can and might be nurturing, but she reverts to her old self within one or two episodes. That is, whether she is jealous of Alex’s progress, seeming like she doesn’t need to fight every time someone says something she doesn’t like, or possibly learning time and place when it comes to dealing with people who could have a positive effect on her career. Sometimes, it makes you wonder why is Star the title character if they are going to keep her the same person but now with a bit more money? Is that supposed to be the gag? How money doesn’t always change people or is it that seeing a ratchet white girl is too entertaining?
Which further pushes why the character in a coma, as well as prison, was such a good thing for this show. Not to downplay the energy Star brings to Star but often times she is way too much and makes the most basic situations into over the top messes.
Take 3 Needs To End
At this point, they need to stop teasing Take 3 ending and kill it. Even if in a Destiny’s Child way where it isn’t over, but they aren’t doing music as a group or touring together. Simply put, the group only serves Star and doesn’t do much for Alex or Simone. Who, as shown throughout the season, have built themselves up to not need Star’s energy and persona to draw attention.
Alex has become a model who actually leaves Atlanta and Georgia. Simone was going to be an actress for a hot minute, until that storyline was dropped when Nina left, and now is an immigration advocate. Much less, Alex is getting hits outside the group so why would they stick with Star? Nostalgia? Because her voice now requires drugs to function? Come on now. She is starting to become a ball and chain with a blonde wig on.
The ASAs Were Lackluster
Is it wrong to think the ASAs should have been a whole or half an episode at least? It is the biggest event we’ve seen the ladies go to, was built up to for most of the season, but all we got was Lil’ Dini dancing around, the girls getting Steve Harvey’d, and that’s it. All that build up and no seeing Gigi one last time, maybe actual musicians showing up, just a bunch of extras, reoccurring characters you don’t care about, and the girls reaching a milestone which looks like a private school prom.
On The Fence
How Rape Is Used
Rape in season 3 is used to trigger Miss Ruby having a moment and later to try to mess up Alex and Derek’s relationship. Now, while I understand rape happens more often than it should, it is uncomfortable how it was used in this season. Mostly because it was used as a jump-off for multiple storylines and has been used for such in the past, such as Simone in season 1.
Speaking about this season specifically, Miss Ruby went from comical character to Jennings getting to deliver some of her best work on the show. But there is the question of why she had to be raped to do that? Considering what Alex goes through in the season, and her parents not being around, you couldn’t have Miss Ruby taken on a parental role and shown depth that way?
Then with Carlotta, as much as you recognize the conversations Calvin triggered are some of the best moments of the season, there remains the need to question why, in one season, they needed to have three characters raped? Much less, is Olivia possibly raping Derek to set up her getting pregnant in the next season? To possibly talk about men getting raped or is that just for the sake of drama? The show could go either way, and that is part of the problem.
The whole Carlotta having a son by Calvin thing was awkward from the get-go since Cassie was pushing for Carlotta to find out and Carlotta wanted no parts of it. But from there, it being Rashad was handled in a too obvious kind of way. Then, it felt like it sort of took the wind out of Carlotta saying, at Calvin’s funeral, that he raped her and then all that attention was switched over to who her kid was. Which seemed weird since Carlotta wasn’t whispering so you’d think there would have been a lot of surprised faces and questions. Making the whole Rashad thing more so a season finale thing, or close to it, than it being handled in the almost lackluster way it was.
But, I will say, I always love when this show pushes gospel and even though this show is in flux, this season featured more gospel than ever, and with Rashad being a gospel artist, there is one plus. Because, honestly, the R&B on this show is made for streaming and not buying.
How The Second Half Changed Things
I can’t recall if this is normal for the show, but I would say there is a noticeable shift when it comes to the first half and second half of the season. A lot of it deals with supporting characters, or new characters, being treated like they matter in the first half. Yet, in the second half, especially if only meant for a season, like Mateo, you can see them being focused on less, their storylines more shoddy, and new characters taking their place.
However, in season 3, new characters meant Amber, mentioned above, and Diane. Now, Bobby’s entrance onto the show was built up well since Noah was singing about him and made him seem like the source to all his troubles. Diane came out of nowhere, and since showing up on Star, it seems like Kimberly Elise has been trying to give Jude Demorest a run for her money – and it hasn’t been working out.
Also, if you take away those come to Jesus moments and poignant conversations, the second half is kind of trash. All the leaps made forward by Simone, Miss Bruce, and others, get slowed down exponentially. Almost as if they started to get too big for their britches and had to be taken down a notch and reminded of their place. And while Alex really comes into her own over the second half, and Keke Palmer as Gigi was phenomenal, mostly due to Star being out of commission, the second half almost leads you to wonder how this show would be if they cut the episode count down to 10 or 13 rather than 18?
Carlotta’s Mental Break
Remember, post-Jahill’s death, Carlotta was working herself to the point of losing it due to her grief? Was it strange to not expect between Gravity failing, Calvin in her life, and learning her son was alive, Carlotta didn’t come close to a second mental break or had a panic attack? I get there is a certain element of Strong Black Woman in play, but one of the few good things about that break was showing you can’t be strong all the time. Also, with us seeing Miss Bruce step up, it was also a reminder there are people there for you, and even though they may have messed up in the past, like Miss Bruce and Cassie, it doesn’t mean they don’t have your back.
Dependence on Cliffhangers
Cliffhangers are of course expected since it drums up interest for the next season and, when a show is cancelled, like Star currently is, or in limbo, it helps push fans to clamor for more. However, when was the last time a cliffhanger was used and it meant something? Between Cassie and Carlotta’s standoff, which caused Christine to get shot, the plane crash leaving Alex alive, Simone untouched, and Cotton okay, these cliff hangers haven’t been hitting like they should. The only good one, to my recollection, is Davis being Noah’s. In terms of not only the build-up but a possible payoff.
Overall: Mixed (Stick Around)
To love Star is like loving its title character. You have to enjoy something messy, which is a bit all over the place, and sometimes seems desperate for attention. Yet, despite their faults, you stick around for those real moments. The scenes which has a character address why they are such a hot mess and not in a play it off with a joke kind of way, but when they tell you the unfiltered, real reason. It’s those moments which act as the hook on silver lining and why this is marked as something to stick around with.
For while, yes, consistency is not really part of this show’s vocabulary, arguably it is getting better with time. Maybe not in huge leaps and bounds, but it isn’t like there is, or was, a huge number of shows which paved the way for a program like Star. So, of course, things are going to be bumpy, and there are going to be some growing pains. Yet, in the long run, the highs of the show outweigh the lows and leaves you wondering what may come next.
Has Another Season Been Confirmed?
It actually was recently cancelled but, like all shows nowadays, they are trying to find another network to pick this up.