Looking for a new costume drama where people talk like it’s the 21st century while smoldering through sexy love triangles? That’s sort of based on Shakespeare and also on a YA novel? That has a gorgeous, multicultural cast? That stars Bash from Reign with different hair? That is produced by Shonda Rhimes and is the first costume drama to be part of the Shondaland family?? We got a sneak peek at the premiere episode and are here to spill all the tea. Well, most of it, I mean, #NoSpoilers. Except for like… we all know how Romeo & Juliet ends, right? OR DO WE???
So the deal here is basically if you jumped into reading Romeo & Juliet about 70% of the way through. We have two families in Olde Timey Italy named the Montagues and the Capulets, and they haaaate each other for lots of reasons. Unfortch, both families only have one kid each, a boy and a girl, and wouldn’t you know it, those two kids fell in love. Because of the feud, they can’t let anyone know about their love, and so they get married in secret. That’s the first scene of the show. Now, not to get too spoiler-y here but let’s just say: don’t get too attached to these two. I’m pretty sure they aren’t going to be main characters on this show.
Now in the play, I think they just get married on their own. But on this show, each brings along a witness. Rom brings his cousin, Benvolio, who is all scruffy chin and sticky-up hair and SMOLDERY EYES.
Representing the Capulet side, Jul invites her cousin/servant, Rosaline. Yes, I said cousin/servant. Something happened in the not-so-distant past where Ros’s parents were killed and she went from being a fancy rich person to being a housemaid. Just go with it.
So, Ros and Benny introduce themselves to each other at the wedding, and sparks fly a little bit, but mostly in the ew gross sort of way, because: these two are NOT into each other, largely due to family-hatred reasons. This animosity MAY BECOME IMPORTANT LATER.
Rom and Jul and Ros and Benny all keep the wedding secret from everybody, including Ros’s sister, who also used to be rich but is now a servant. From what we can tell so far, Livia is Rosie’s PERSON, but there is also some TENSION BETWEEN THEM, so you know there’s lots of impending drama on the sister front particularly when Liv finds out that Ros kept the wedding a secret from her.
Despite most of the audience being familiar with the main set-up here vis-a-vis high school English class, there is an awful lot of exposition to get through. But don’t worry, if your mind starts to wander at all of the “who’s the son of who and who’s betraying who” stuff, you can just zone out and gaze at all the Reign-adjacent historically-inaccurate gown gorgeoussity/nonsense.
SO, we find out that Ros — back when she used to be rich and not a servant — had a SEXY HISTORY with Escalus, who is this guy, and who is our new crush — not yours, ours, we saw him first, I’m sorry, we have dibs and that’s just how these things work.
I mean: yes please. Shonda Rhimes has always been amazing at finding new hot men to ogle, and Prince Escalus (yes, he’s a Prince) is NO EXCEPTION. And the chemistry between him and Ros? Is OFF THE CHARTS. So between him and her and Benny we have the makings for a trademark Shondaland LOVE TRIANGLE OF ANGST.
Anyway, Escalus is in charge but he also has a sister who seems like… not entirely supportive of him being in charge while she sit sin the background? And a woman with eyebrows like this should NEVER be in the background. Basically, meet this show’s baddest bitch, Isabella.
I mean, she is wearing OVER THE ELBOW BLACK LEATHER GLOVES. You just know she’s going to be to this show what Cheryl is to Riverdale: an astoundingly well-dressed agent of chaos who may or may not burn down a building before the season is through.
And also BASH FROM REIGN IS ON THIS SHOW with pushed-back hair, which helps us remember it’s not Bash, even though he looks and dresses like Bash. Here, his name is Paris, and he came to town to marry Jul until she died. And as much as we adore Torrance Coombs being all puppydog eyes as Reign‘s erstwhile sexy Druid, when he turns his wolfish blue eyes to villainy we’re… also into it. We’re into anything he does. More Torrance, all the time! Especially in old timey cloaks and whatnot.
So anyway, Rom & Jul’s marriage becomes news after they both accidentally-on-purpose kill themselves, which means a lot of swordfighting, one defaced statue, and basically chaos all over the place. The best thing is how Izzy is like, “If the Medici find out about this, they’ll take over!” which makes us feel like this show takes place like, just across the continent from Reign, and maybe Cathy will show up at some point? And Cathy x Izzy would be amazing to see.
But in the meantime, this show does have its own badass parental generation, in the form of Jul’s Dad, GILES!!!
And his wife, Jul’s Mom/Ros’s Aunt, who is over-protective and clearly has some secrets of her own, sort of like Betty Cooper’s Mom from Riverdale but with way more beads and pearls:
Can’t get into the plot beyond this point because #NoSpoilers but rest assured, the first episode ends with an AMAZING KISS and a HUGE PLOT TWIST and we’re really excited to see what happens next with Ros, Benny, Izzy, and Dreamboat Prince Escalus. Seriously, if you’re in pre-mourning for the end of Reign and all of the scheming, outfits, and dreamy-eyed love stories and STABBINGS it brought, this will for sure be your jam.
Still Star-Crossed premieres on Monday, May 29th at 10|9c on ABC.