by DICK CHENEY
creators Lee Daniels & Tom Donaghy
From the moment Queen Latifah opened Lee Daniels’ new show Star with her throaty voiceover I was in love. My wife Lynne won’t let me watch Empire anymore because she says that it only feeds into the stereotypes the media creates about the lifestyles of African-Americans. Since Star has a white lead — its titular character portrayed by Jude Demorest — she allows me to view the show as long as I close my eyes whenever a person of color is committing a crime.
This happens fairly early on in the series. Star walks in on some older fellow sexually assaulting her half-sister Simone (the actress most likely to become an actual star out of this show, Brittany O’Grady). Star indicates Simone should be quiet while she goes downstairs to secure one of the largest knives I have seen since the late 1980s. Her first murder is easy.
Star explains that she plans to move her and Simone to Atlanta from Pittsburgh. They stop in New York and pick up an incredibly rich black woman named Alex (Ryan Destiny) on the way. Alex’s dad is Lenny Kravitz, but a very annoying version of Lenny Kravitz. Things only get considerably more exciting from here, especially when Star screams, “I killed that man for us,” while wearing the most distracting hoop earrings I can possibly think of.
If I was to explain the top five actors that enlarge my penis to approximately normal size, the list would be in no particular order Bryan Cranston, Benjamin Bratt, Queen Latifah, Khandi Alexander and Jimmy Smits. Star has two people on this list with the possibility of adding the full set down the road. When Latifah finally pops up on this show wearing a red wig and looking even more spectacular than I ever could have imagined, I immediately paused my viewing of Star and did a hot rewatch of Just Wright.
From the moment these three young starlets hit the stage, only one question comes to mind: Where is Benjamin Bratt? It turns out he is at a strip club in suburban Atlanta looking extremely tired. Star explains that his regular stripper has syphilis. He makes out with Star at his leisure and agrees to manage the band.
Besides being a fantastic singer and despite being white, Star is also fantastic at hand-to-hand combat. When Queen Latifah finds out that Benjamin Bratt and Star made out, she shows up with a gun, informing him that her father maintained a woman only needed three things in life: your bible, your piece, and your word.
Despite this, Benjamin Bratt arranges for the ladies to perform at the birthday party of a white NFL linebacker. “Do you want to change our lives?” Star screams at her bandmates, I guess as a way of hyping up the whole experience. At the party, the NFL player wears a loose fitting white shirt and eyes Star like she holds a bevy of Hershey’s kisses on her insides instead of organs. An hour later she lip-synchs a song about wanting to be a variety of different things.
Real talk, Empire was a little too soapy for me and I feel dirty whenever I am forced to view Terrence Howard in any context. Star is way better so far.
Now that Queen Latifah is back on series television for the first time in decades, I can finally debut my five part retrospective on her seminal situation comedy, Living Single. Included in my recollections will be screenshots from messageboard posts I made about various aspects of the show from 1995-1996. This was a very early time in the history of the internet, and I would troll Living Single fansites and try to get Kim Coles replaced because I didn’t like looking at her face. On Living Single, Queen Latifah was the editor of a magazine called Flavor, and I have brought everything I know of it into my journalistic work.
Dick Cheney is the senior contributor to This Recording.