“Star” follows three young female singers as they form a group and seek fame in the music industry. It’s a predictable formula with few surprises, tied together with musical numbers. But the actors, all newcomers, have chemistry and while they each play easy to classify characters, their performances and the tensions that simmer below the surface help to elevate the familiar story.

Star (Jude Demorest) and her sister Simone (Brittany O’Grady), products of a broken foster care system, join forces with Alexandra (Ryan Destiny), the daughter of a famous musician. The sisters convince Alexandra to go to Atlanta where they have a godmother, Carlotta (Queen Latifah), and once there, the trio begins their quest to hit it big.

For the sisters, music is not a rebellious act but a ticket out, a path to a privileged life. Separated and stuck in abusive foster homes, they yearn for the freedom that money will bring and for Star, the fame for which she feels destined. Alexandra comes from wealth and tells her father, played by Lenny Kravitz, that she must do music her way because it feeds her soul. But she is also looking for escape. The group promises her a new life but one that is less about money and more about claiming an identity outside her father’s shadow.

The trio meets Jahil (Benjamin Bratt) a down and out talent manager, who sees them as his ticket back to the big leagues. It’s not hard to imagine that further along the road it will be a relationship filled with drama and probably betrayal and most likely suspect financial dealings. There are also a few subplots that seem thrown in as a nod to current cultural issues rather than a way to add value to the main storyline. The musical scenes are entertaining, as expected from creator and producer Lee Daniels, who also created “Empire.”

With this new TV series, Daniels paints a grittier picture than he does in “Empire” and the show is stronger for it. There is an undercurrent of anger and restlessness that defines all the female characters and shapes their decisions. The tension is immediate from the first scene of the pilot and continues throughout the episode. Demorest gives Star an edge that feels authentic and she keeps her likeable, despite the character’s too easy classification as a tough, street smart survivor.

Queen Latifah’s voiceover narration as Carlotta begins the show and sets the stage: “Ever since Star was little she believed her name was who she was. I told her fame is a trip. It ain’t love like a lot of people think. But she wouldn’t listen. Star don’t listen to nobody but herself.”

This, then, is a story about the dangers of fame for one woman in particular. Focusing on Star is a good choice because Demorest makes her instantly watchable. Star’s journey is sure to follow some predictable paths but they should be entertaining ones.

“Star” premieres on Wednesday, Dec. 14 at 9 p.m. on Fox.

— Melissa Crawley is the author of “Mr. Sorkin Goes to Washington: Shaping the President on Television’s ‘The West Wing.’” She has a Ph.D. in media studies and is a member of the Television Critics Association. To comment on Stay Tuned, email her at staytuned@outlook.com or follow her on Twitter at @MelissaCrawley.