Exploring Digital Purgatory: Starstruck

Starstruck-HBO-Max-Jessie-Tom

The Movie or TV Show: Starstruck (2021)

One Sentence Premise Summary: A struggling zillenial woman seemingly has a one night stand with a famous actor, but they continue running into each other and seemingly try to make it work over the course of the next year.    

Where You Can Stream It: HBO Max (As of July 1, 2021)

Why I Streamed It: I’m not totally into romantic comedies, but this one being an import, having a female creator, getting some good word of mouth, and being less than three hours long made this a relatively easy choice.

Why You Should Stream it:

Romantic comedies have evolved over the last ten years, from something you had to see on the big screen to now being primarily used as a vehicle on streaming. Netflix has created a corner for themselves by producing a number of high profile romantic comedy franchises and individualized movies. The British method of producing television shows that are six episodes under a half hour each are almost ideal for this format. There is the meet cute and the conflict that arises. It also plays with the modern conventions by not following them over a short period of time but exploring what happens over the course of multiple seasons.

Each episode explores a different season, starting with the one night stand Jessie (Rose Matafeo) and Tom (Nikesh Patel). They have complications in trying to get together, yet the show maintains a light comedic tone. This being just over two hours in total is certainly a huge selling point, but I firmly believe if the show wasn’t good, there wouldn’t be the groundswell of buzz. I also think this show coming out at once helped tremendously for see the entire story.

The show mixes the best aspects of the Before series with Notting Hill. It’s great to see Patel in such a role, and he has a hilarious scene with Minnie Driver in episode two. It’s a shame we did not get to see more of her agent character.

The show is also willing to explore these characters non-romantic journey. While having a romantic partner is hugely important toward achieving true happiness, Jessie also has to think about her career and shifting away from two jobs (she is a zillenial after all). Meanwhile, Tom is interested in moving away from big action movies and trying to be more of an actor.

I’m not sure if this show should have a second season, but this worked well as a one off. On the surface, it is a romantic comedy that is funny and engaging. Like so many modern comedies, the show gets beyond silliness and tries to explore the totality of these characters as well.

Best Performance: Rose Matafeo is both a creative force behind the camera as a writer and giving it her all as an actor. I’m not sure she’s an Emmy award winning performer, but she gives it her all and has a moment of great joy that seems like the ethos of the show in so many ways. In addition, she is able to project an ora of intelligence but also not have her life together. I feel like a lot of people can relate to her character, male or female.

Best Quote: This doesn’t exactly follow the rules, but Jessie singing and dancing in the opening of episode two is nothing but pure joy and the best part of the show. Television could use more unadulterated joy.

Final Grade: B+

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