Starstruck Season Two | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Monday, June 17th, 2024  

Starstruck (Season Two)

HBO Max, March 24, 2022

Mar 23, 2022 Photography by Mark Johnson/HBO Max Web Exclusive
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With the proliferation of streaming content, it’s easy to miss yet another female comedian-led half-hour comedy like Starstruck, whose first season premiered on HBO Max halfway through 2021. That is, unless you were stuck overnight at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport due to Omicron-related staff shortage and discovered the series when you were looking for something light-hearted to get distracted by in the small hours. True story.

The six-part, half-hour episodes of the first season are downright charming. Jessie, portrayed by series creator and co-writer Rose Matefeo, meets a movie star, Tom, played by Nikesh Patel, on New Year’s Eve at a bar. In a Notting Hill-style encounter, she ends up in bed with him. After a variety of hiccups, this unlikely but deeply likeable couple come together at the end of the season finale when Jessie decides not to go back to her native New Zealand. Instead, she stays in London, mainly to be with Tom, especially as she’s quit her numerous jobs and written teary and heartfelt goodbye letters to everyone she knows in town.

The reason why romantic comedies never have sequels is because either everything is going well with the couple and there’s nothing to watch. Or, there is conflict and the original love story is ruined. Starstruck’s second season suffers from the latter.

Jessie still has the same problems she had that made her consider moving back to New Zealand. She has nothing significant going on with her life, work-wise or otherwise. She’s still at a loose end, aimless and not the type of person to look to a relationship to give her purpose. But that is what is happening. Tom is the only thing going on with her life, and, as such, gives the viewer very little to latch on to.

The vast differences in their lives and lifestyles becomes all the more defined when, in a callback to their meeting, Tom throws a New Year’s Eve party at his beautiful home. It’s not so much that Jessie doesn’t fit in, she’s actually always been pretty comfortable in Tom’s settings, it’s that the people around him are taking up all the square peg spaces, even though they’re round pegs and she’s the square.

Jessie’s drunken and distressed letter-writing has recalled her irritating and smug ex-boyfriend, Ben (Edward Easton), back into her life and now he’s around every corner. But then, he has to be because otherwise there is no real tension, which means there is no show. It all has a very “Ross-and-Rachel” on-again, off-again energy to it.

What saves the second season are its hilarious supporting cast. Everyone who appears, however briefly, at the party is a hoot—keep an eye out for British hip hop duo Rizzle Kicks’ Jordan Stephens. None more so than Tom’s tightly-wound agent Cath, played by a priceless Minnie Driver. Driver stole all her far-too-few scenes in the first seasons, leaving us gagging for more. She’s turns up a bit more this season, once again stealing the show, but unfortunately, not enough times.

Starstruck gets off to a dull start, then becomes predictable and uninteresting. But, as the episodes progress, Matefeo rediscovers the instinctive humor that made the first season such a delight. Her everyday jokes, either delivered by herself or her support, are relatable and razor-sharp, the delivery effortless and natural. (

Author rating: 5.5/10

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