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Why Lee Daniels' Star And Empire Never Stop Pushing The Envelope

fox star benjamin bratt

Lee Daniels' Empire became a huge hit for Fox when it debuted back in January 2015, and the bold hip hop drama has continued to deliver pretty excellent ratings for the network ever since. Daniels got the chance to expand the world he created for Empire with a second series called Star, and all signs point toward another show that doesn't hold back from touching upon subjects usually considered taboo. Star actor Benjamin Bratt spoke in a conference call with press about how Lee Daniels crafts his dramas, saying this:

Lee's aim and goal is to provoke as much as it is to entertain because out of the provocation to his way of thinking comes the drama, and he's not wrong.

Star follows a group of three teenage girls as they strive for stardom in the music biz. The new show doesn't shy away from controversial subjects any more than Empire does, and no character currently pushes the envelope quite as much as Bratt's Jahil Rivera, who is a washed-up talent manager attempting to use the harmonious trio to fight his way back to the top in the industry. Sure, one of the girls is heavily into drugs and another killed a man, but they're teenagers who clearly don't know what they're getting themselves into! Jahil knows what he's doing, and he has already shown a willingness to cross lines that are not usually crossed in the middle of a broadcast network's primetime lineup. Outside of Lee Daniels' world, that is.

While none of the main players on Star are without serious character flaws, Jahil got off to an especially slimy start when he met Star Davis after she snuck into a strip club to seduce him into becoming her manager. Jahil was immediately entranced by Star, and it was pretty obvious that he was interested in her for more than her talent as a singer. When I asked Benjamin Bratt about Jahil's dynamic with Star moving forward, he had this to tease:

He recognizes immediately that she is unique and that she is someone that can quickly ascend to the fame and fortune that he always aspires to have for himself. There is clearly a sexual attraction between them which, given their age differences isn't entirely "on," as they say. That's a very Lee Daniels construct too.

Lee Daniels' willingness to provoke is apparent in everything that Jahil has done so far. Not only is Jahil sexually attracted to this teenage girl who used her body to try and get him to sign her as a singer, but he also develops an unhealthy fixation on her when he discovers that she is the daughter of one of his former clients. Benjamin Bratt's Jahil is a combination of creepy and compelling, and he's a fantastic foil to Queen Latifah's Carlotta.

We're still early in the show's run at this point, so we can't say just yet if Star will achieve a similar amount of success as Empire. We do already know that Star and Empire exist in the same music industry, so we may get to see some of Lee Daniels' characters from one show crossing over to the other every once in a while to help things out. In the meantime, it seems that we can expect just as much provocation and envelope-pushing in Star as we've gotten over the years on Empire, and that could be a very good thing.

Tune in to Fox on Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET to see what happens next with Benjamin Bratt's Jahil on Star, and don't forget to check out our midseason TV premiere schedule to see what else you can catch on the small screen in the coming weeks.

Laura Hurley
Laura Hurley

Resident of One Chicago, Bachelor Nation, and Cleveland. Has opinions about crossovers, Star Wars, and superheroes. Will not time travel.