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The Hollywood Insider Starstruck Review, HBO MAX

Photo: ‘Starstruck’ 

We all love a good rom-com; especially a comedic one. We also all love a show that shows itself to be developing into something incredible; especially when the previous comedy in that series has gotten better. When a series showcases itself in this way, it shows us that these characters have a purpose in their shows and that we can grow along with the character on their journey as well. It overall engrosses the previous audience even more, and it yearns to bring newer fans to the series as well. With that said, it’s fascinating when comedy series accomplish this intriguing element.

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There are a plethora of wonderful TV shows that fit into this category, such as ABC’s ‘Fresh off the Boat’ and NBC’s Parks and Recreation’. During the series’ entire run, these shows are fine examples of how they started as an initial comedy with not much at stake (being just a simple way of giving audiences a fun time), and then transformed themselves to be a personal and well-developed world that these previously entirely goofy characters lived in (and now being characters that each have their dimensions). 

And now, thanks to HBOMax, we have a fantastic addition to this comedic collection with the recent season two release of the British comedy ‘Starstruck’.

A Healthy Happily-Ever-After

Ultimately, after the premiere of season two, ‘Starstruck’ is showing up to be a reinvention of itself. It still maintains its brilliant sense of comedy with its writing and all of the actors’ comedic deliveries; along with the charming originality it maintained throughout the initial release of the show. On top of this, it gives us a look into what happens after that truly “happily ever after” moment in all romance media by exactly picking up where it left off in the finale of season one.

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If you need a quick refresher on the general plot of ‘Starstruck’, the story follows a London millennial, Jessie (Rose Matafeo), who’s juggling two dead-end jobs and is attempting to navigate the world of the awkward morning-after-the-night-before. But, it isn’t until one day that Jessie realizes she’s sleeping with a film star, Tom (Nikesh Patel), that things take her into a  turn of a lifetime. Sounds like a fun twist on the romantic comedy ‘Notting Hill’, doesn’t it?

Following along with the general plot, the second season of ‘Starstruck’ flows and builds on top of its original premise by developing Jessie and Tom’s rather awkward romance after their individual decisions to take the chance into being in a committed relationship. We now know that Jessie is not going back home to her family in New Zealand and that Tom is not taking a big acting role in Ireland, so it’s a lovey-dovey rollercoaster to see how everything unfolds when they choose each other; forming a decision that has both included them rather than being something entirely independent. 

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Throughout season two, we see how this choice affects both of them rather positively; and ultimately how incredibly healthy this relationship seems for both of them, while overall delivering wonderful dead-pan comedy. Even tense moments in some scenes between them, like when they disagree about something, are played up to be comedic in the best way, and it cements how powerful they are as a pair. It’s just incredibly beautiful to see how that dramatic (and possibly reckless) decision of choosing to be with one another rather than doing something for yourself because you know it’s the better route to take turns itself into being seemingly beneficial in the long run; especially after how much I have grown on Jessie and Tom as both people and a couple.

Starstruck By The Romantic Development 

As always, I adore mentioning the writing of a piece of media that I loved. And when I say that the way all of the characters (big and small) have been changed and grown since the first season of ‘Starstruck’ is magical is simply an understatement for me to say. I always find it so impressive when a series can manage to make both the story and the characters notably show growth for itself; not to mention how much it conveys a truly healthy and relatable relationship. 

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In the romance genre of Cinema and TV shows, I tend to not relate too much to how characters romantically treat each other. This may be largely due to my personal experiences in love, or simply how when you can fictionally write about romance, you can go the whole nine yards with a dreamy loving bond. But, how Jessie and Tom’s relationship is portrayed feels ultimately so familiar to me, and it reminds me of how I and my boyfriend are (minus the whole movie star aspect, tragically). This brought me further into the story and made everything feel more exciting to watch. 

I also want to mention the incredible cinematic visuals in ‘Starstruck’ as well. The way the framing and color schemes couple together convey perfect romantic moments between Jessie and Tom; core memories for their journey as a couple, if you will. It emits a sense of nostalgia and dreamy-like romance that doesn’t feel realistically impossible to obtain. For any of you in a long-term relationship like me, when you watch these scenes from season two you’ll understand what I’m saying when you’ll feel reminiscent of when the relationship truly felt as though it was blooming into a beautiful life for both of you to experience.

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Lastly, the chemistry between Matafeo and Patel makes the magical start of the character’s relationship feel even more real as well. They work together so fantastically that I’ll admittedly say that this emotional impact of the aftermath of that happily-ever-after moment may have not felt as influential as it did.

For What’s To Come

‘Starstruck’ is such a hidden gem among comedy series, and it works too hard to not be as recognized as it is. It deserves so much love due to how much care goes into this series, and how the growth plucks all of your heartstrings. It’s not typical that we get to see the aftermath of a happily-ever-after; leading us as an audience to simply make-up in our minds as to how they’re doing now. So, it’s a wonderful treat and opportunity to get to experience this overall; and it flows along to perfectly set up a third season (and I am begging to all that is holy that it is renewed for another season).

‘Starstruck’, written and created by Rose Matafeo, is just the romantic indulgence this world needed to see. A reminiscent rom-com that has the potential to reinvent the genre, and itself, as a whole. And if you’re a sucker for British comedies, you’ll absolutely be a sucker for ‘Starstruck’.

Cast: Rose Matafeo, Nikesh Patel, Emma Sidi

Cinematography: Will Hanke  |   Editor(s): Christopher Watson, Robbie Morrison  |   Director(s): Karen Maine, Jamie Jay Johnson  |   Writer(s): Rose Matafeo, Alice Snedden, Nic Sampson |  Producers: Rose Matafeo, Richard Allen-Turner, Toby Welch

By Leah Donato

Click here to read The Hollywood Insider’s CEO Pritan Ambroase’s love letter to Cinema, TV and Media. An excerpt from the love letter: The Hollywood Insider’s CEO/editor-in-chief Pritan Ambroase affirms, We have the space and time for all your stories, no matter who/what/where you are. Media/Cinema/TV have a responsibility to better the world and The Hollywood Insider will continue to do so. Talent, diversity and authenticity matter in Cinema/TV, media and storytelling. In fact, I reckon that we should announce “talent-diversity-authenticity-storytelling-Cinema-Oscars-Academy-Awards” as synonyms of each other. We show respect to talent and stories regardless of their skin color, race, gender, sexuality, religion, nationality, etc., thus allowing authenticity into this system just by something as simple as accepting and showing respect to the human species’ factual diversity. We become greater just by respecting and appreciating talent in all its shapes, sizes, and forms. Award winners, which includes nominees, must be chosen on the greatness of their talent ALONE.

I am sure I am speaking for a multitude of Cinema lovers all over the world when I speak of the following sentiments that this medium of art has blessed me with. Cinema taught me about our world, at times in English and at times through the beautiful one-inch bar of subtitles. I learned from the stories in the global movies that we are all alike across all borders. Remember that one of the best symbols of many great civilizations and their prosperity has been the art they have left behind. This art can be in the form of paintings, sculptures, architecture, writings, inventions, etc. For our modern society, Cinema happens to be one of them. Cinema is more than just a form of entertainment, it is an integral part of society. I love the world uniting, be it for Cinema, TV. media, art, fashion, sport, etc. Please keep this going full speed.

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