I didn’t know how much I needed this show until I was screeching during the finale.
HBO Max’s romantic series Starstruck is truly a gem. At just over twenty minutes per episode, it’s an easy binge that is delightfully messy. Created by Kiwi comedian Rose Matafeo, the show is grounded, hilariously quirky, and seldom steers into melodrama. Instead, the series manifests a love story from its infancy to the attachment between two people who don’t know how to say what they truly feel. Littered with a supporting cast of oddball characters, Starstruck defies expectations, and by its conclusion, you’ll be smitten.
Set in the overcast climate of London, Jessie (Matafeo), a late-20s kiwi, is out at a club on New Year’s and having a shit time. Eager to pee and determined not to wait in line for the women’s bathroom, she enters the male restroom and encounters the striking Tom (Nikesh Patel). Their banter is sweet but unassuming, and, being the attractive young specimens they are, they sleep together. When Jessie wakes the following day, she finds a movie poster with Tom’s image. She has had sex with Tom Kapoor, an action film star, and she bolts out of the house into a crowd of paparazzi who think she’s Tom’s cleaner.
So begins a fleeting romance that spans across the seasons of a year. Directed by Karen Maine and written by Matafeo and Alice Snedden, the series avoids most cliches and, importantly, humanizes Tom to the point where he becomes more recognizable as a sweet, heart-throb rather than a caricature of a celebrity. Matafeo is phenomenal as the aimless and giddy Jessie, who is trying to find her footing since coming to London. She delivers a stellar monologue in the fifth episode that’s poignant in its relatability and showcases a star in the making.
Falling in love isn’t as straightforward as meeting, fuck and marry. It’s a journey through understanding someone, particularly after a random encounter. That attachment can linger, an invisible string that is connecting across distance. How we find our way to that person is anything but ordinary.
Prepare to be Starstruck.