Lashana Lynch is about to break out in a major way, crossing over from the U.K. to the U.S. as Rosaline in ABC's Still Star-Crossed. The latest addition to the Shondaland rotation on ABC, Still Star-Crossed imagines what happens after the events of Romeo & Juliet, concerning itself with the drama, grief and political turbulence left in the wake of the deaths of the infamous young lovers.
At the heart of Still Star-Crossed is Lynch's character, Rosaline, revealed to be Juliet's cousin. Still Star-Crossed begins with the secret wedding between Juliet and Romeo (with Rosaline and Romeo's cousin Benvolio acting as witnesses), but interestingly, in the final days of the star-crossed lovers, they're merely background players to the story. There's plenty of political intrigue brewing in Verona and the extraneous personal dramas of their family members, with a great portion of the focus landing on Rosaline's shoulders.
In the pilot, it's clear that Rosaline is a forward-thinking woman with a mind of her own, dreams of her own and a strong desire to break free of a life that has been somehow predetermined for her. Still Star-Crossed turns her into one of the main reasons you should watch; come for the Shakespearean intrigue, but stay for Rosaline and her journey.
There's the revelation that she has a romantic history with Prince Escalus, chief lawmaker in Verona now that his father has died and the one who orders Rosaline to marry Benvolio. There's the way in which she stands up to her aunt, Juliet's mother, a woman with her own dark secrets who seems intent on cloistering away her orphaned niece. There's also the way in which it's clear Rosaline is not afraid to speak her mind, to do what she must to protect her sister while fighting for peace among the warring families.
Her emotional journey underlines these actions, as it's established in the pilot that she is deeply troubled that she is not allowed the dignity of her own agency and independence. Rosaline's life, it's revealed at the end of the first episode, is forever changed when she is ordered to marry Romeo's cousin Benvolio. This arranged marriage, which she has no say in, is a complete change from the quiet escape to a nunnery that she yearns for. She longs to be in control of her own life now that she and her sister are orphaned by the civil war being waged between these two venerable Veronese families.
Rosaline's characterization hits a strong, fiercely feminist chord in the show. The pilot is teeing up plenty of plotlines, but it's evident that for Rosaline, we're going to see a lot more of this strength coming out as people around her attempt to force her into a predetermined role she wants no part of and she pushes back, fighting for the right to control her own life.
There's no doubt that this is a part made for Lynch and that she deserves to become a household name because of it. Lynch's IMDb résumé boasts a small yet steadily rising career, moving around in the world of U.K. television and smaller U.K. films like 2012's Fast Girls. Still Star-Crossed will arguably be Lynch's most notable and biggest role to date, but it's clear she is deserving of the role after working so hard to earn it.
It's clearly not easy to be Rosaline in Still Star-Crossed, but Lynch's performance makes it look like a damn thrilling adventure. Part of the reason Rosaline is so well-characterized is thanks to Lynch's performance. She turns Rosaline into a modern heroine, rounding her out with a nuanced range of emotions that leaves you cheering her on. Whether you're a fan of Shakespeare or you're looking for the next great feminist TV heroine to watch week after week, Still Star-Crossed is ready to give you what you want.
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