Starstruck (HBO Max)
Written by Rose Matafeo and Alice Snedden
Directed by Karen Maine
As we continue with me watching things, you might be looking at this and wondering ‘another romcom?’ and my answer would be: If you pay me (link to patreon), I might consider something else, but for now, mama’s gotta do what feels right.
Starstruck is a BBC-Three show picked up by HBO, starring Rose Matafeo as Jessie and Nikesh Patel as Tom Kapoor. It feels like one of those fan-fics you would encounter on Tumblr while bored one night, except Jessie would be either ‘you’ or Y/N (your name) and has less sex in it.
That being said, this short series is worth the watch. It’s six episodes; the titles are all by season until the end, which is the Christmas episode.
It starts with Jessie going to the club on NYE with her flatmate and best friend Kate, both arguing about going in. Jessie unsure, uncomfortable, but willing because friends stick together. Jessie meets Tom in the bathroom. She amuses Tom; she doesn’t care so much. They hook up, and she realizes as she’s trying to sneak off the morning that she has hooked up with a famous actor.
The best parts are these two together. They’re awkward at times, insecure, and Jessie is fully aware he makes more money than she does.
As they part, the next scene is showing Jessie talking to a client who starts to judge her favorite movie on her nametag. The twist being, it’s not even her nametag, and it isn’t even a movie she’s seen. It’s displaying to us how Jessie could have at any time known Tom was the Tom Kapoor but just seemed to have dismissed him entirely.
We don’t get a lot about Tom. There’s no moment where Jessie searches him online to do an intensive dive (she does search him once for plot reasons), where she spirals on how many women he’s been with. Instead, in the beginning, Jessie is more thrilled that she will be a stain on his sexual history. She sets herself up to move along with her life.
In the whole series, it’s miscommunication that leads them not to end up together as you’d think. They don’t immediately fall in love, but you see the connection. Jessie isn’t thrown into the tabloids or has a weird moment of being forced into the red carpet. His agent even warns Tom, not to date’ civilians.’
Instead, Tom is the one who is caught in awkwardness. People are taking his photo as he’s trying to talk to Jessie. Her friends being awkward around him, in awe of him. Tom was acting out during a press interview because he’s hurt about Jessie. Tom is the one spinning because of the relationship.
On the other hand, Jessie is questioning what she should do about her life and how to make money. Her struggles differ from Tom’s and what we see is someone messy, sometimes self-involved, and determined to keep herself who she is. There’s a tiny mention of her having moved from New Zealand to London for love before, so she isn’t willing to do all that again.
Jessie is someone you want to watch and see grow. She isn’t perfect, and she knows this, yet there’s confidence within her. I like that there isn’t a scene where Jessie asks him to if beautiful. She’s more determined to be who she is. There’s a mix of female comedy ala Broad City injected into this rom-com series. I am delighted to see more of it!