“For never was a story of more woe than this of Juliet and her Romeo.”
Well, Shakespeare didn’t anticipate the relationship between the two lead characters in Binge’s new series, Noughts and Crosses.
The show, which is set in the present day, bears an uncanny resemblance to the classic, however, this time, the “two households” are based on race.
As the series begins, we bear witness to a man being beaten by a police officer because of the colour of his skin — a scene which has been made all to prevalent in real life by the Black Lives Matter movement.
While police brutality is nothing new, in the adaptation of Malorie Blackman’s young adult books, there is a twist.
The lighter-skinned Nought minority has been ruled by darker-skinned Cross colonisers from “Aprica”, 700 years ago.
Set in an alternate history, a passionate romance builds between Sephy Hadley (newcomer Masali Baduza), the daughter of a Cross politician, and Callum (Jack Rowan from Peaky Blinders), a Nought, which leads them both into terrible danger against a background of prejudice, distrust and powerful rebellion mounting on the streets.
Black people treat white people with disdain, and the interracial relationship between the two leads is a controversial topic between the two families.
Callum and Sephy were also childhood playmates, as Callum’s mother is employed as a servant at the grand Hadley house. After Callum is roped into helping serve drinks at a birthday party, the pair meet once again.
The novels in which the series is based were popular among teens between 2001 and 2008, and have a few differences from the new series.
In the books, Callum and Sephy were just kids, whereas, in the series, they are teenagers. There’s also the storyline of Callum’s sister, Lynette McGregor who tragically kills herself, however, this storyline was written out of the show.
In an interview with Cosmopolitan UK back in March, Rowan said the story of Lynne was important and “you don’t want to rush that.”
“I think it was a choice for the writers to leave that bit out because there’s so much. We would never want to rush past something so serious.”
If the story hasn’t sold you yet, UK rapper Stormzy appears in the series, however, you’ll have to wait until the finale to catch a glimpse.
In an interview with BBC, actor Patterson Joseph, who plays Sephy’s father Kamal Hadley, said that story is just one interpretation of what things could be like.
“Black people might say, ‘Oh my gosh, you’re painting us as villains, we wouldn’t be like that’, but I beg to differ,” he says. “I think all human beings who are isolated are going to make themselves dictators over time, and be pretty draconian in the apartheid sense.
“And white people might be going ‘this is unfair’, or be angry about being shown as oppressed in this way. So we knew that it had controversy laced all the way through it.
Stream Noughts and Crosses on Binge now.
WATCH: The official trailer for Noughts and Crosses.