The CW has found yet another story to repurpose with hot shirtless men. Star-Crossed, which premieres Monday at 8/7c, tells the familiar story of forbidden love with an added twist — aliens! — yet somehow the sci-fi romance works.
"I don't think we've ever seen a Romeo and Juliet story told in the perspective of a young interplanetary mixed couple in the future, so that in itself is unique," Matt Lanter, who plays the alien Roman, tells TVGuide.com. "This is also a story that, of course its sci-fi, it's a little out there, but at the same time, hey, it could happen ... I'm not saying that aliens are going to be crashing on Earth soon, but you never know. It's a story that could in fact happen and how would we handle that?"
Rewind to a 6-year-old Roman, who is among a race of extraterrestrials known as Atrians fleeing their dying planet. Unfortunately, their escape to Earth is greeted with suspicion and fear. Roman finds a surprising ally in Emery (Aimee Teegarden), a human child who tries to hide and care for him. But when their hideout is discovered and Roman is captured, Emery believes Roman is killed. That is, until she runs into him during her first day of high school a decade later. Eyes meet, sparks fly, etc.
"There's that sort of fate aspect of it, but I think there's also this sense of wanting the mysterious and unknown. There's something very sexy about that," Teegarden says of Emery's connection to Roman. "I think she also empathizes with him feeling like the outsider. Throughout the season, she really tries to make him feel welcome."
While Star-Crossed features the inevitable teen soap love triangle and high school drama, the series is at its best when diving into the political story lines. Set 10 years after their arrival on Earth, the Atrians have been sequestered into internment amps and denied many basic civil rights. But for the first time since their arrival, the government has enacted a test program in which seven Atrian teens will be allowed to attend human high school. Unfortunately, prejudices on both sides keep the integration from moving ahead smoothly.
For a show that deals with civil rights, Star-Crossed is frustratingly whitewashed in its casting, but otherwise the series handles the political aspects fairly well. This is particularly true when it comes to exploring the complexities of Atrian culture. "There's a lot of power struggle back and forth, and it's really, really detailed and really interesting," Lanter says. "You see the internal things happening within the Atrian culture inside the sector, the power struggle happening there, but then you also have this whole outside world with Roman fighting to be with the person that he loves, the person that he's connected to and how to make that all work together."
Unlike her peers, Emery keeps an open mind towards the Atrians and unwittingly finds herself becoming a poster child for integration. "Emory is a fixer. She tries to go in and fix things and always tries to root for the underdog and save people and protect people. She's not afraid to say what she feels. And I think there's something everyone can relate to about that," Teegarden says.
Star-Crossed premieres Monday at 8/7c on The CW.
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Additional reporting by Robyn Ross.