[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Season 1 of Starstruck.]
It’s been nearly two years since Season 2 of Fleabag broke hearts everywhere and left the term “Hot Priest” floating around the pop culture space. Now, a new British comedy is offering a similar vibe with the help of talented young comedian Rose Matafeo in HBO Max’s Starstruck.
Introduced in six bite-sized half-hour episodes, Season 1 follows Matafeo’s Jessie, a New Zealander living in East London who connects with a man named Tom (Four Weddings and a Funeral‘s Nikesh Patel) on New Year’s Eve. While their one-night stand isn’t anything entirely special, there’s something that sparks between the pair that serves as a through-line during the season.
So, what’s the big catch? In a Notting Hill-like twist, Tom happens to be a super famous actor that Jessie doesn’t immediately recognize until the morning after their tryst. The rom-com convention may not explore new territory and Matafeo’s Jessie might not break the fourth wall like Fleabag did, but there’s a youthful freshness to the story which brings Phoebe Waller-Bridge‘s Emmy-winning series to mind.
Although Fleabag focused on Waller-Bridge’s character’s dysfunction through the lens of her romantic relationships and family ties, Jessie seems a little less damaged, but similarly free with her modern outlook. She’s a female protagonist who marches to the beat of her own drum and is unafraid to embrace a more modern outlook when it comes to romance.
In one scene she memorably skips down the streets of London dancing around like she’s just scored a touchdown in the Super Bowl. The reason for her unadulterated joy? A no-strings-attached one-night stand with a stranger viewers never really learn more about.
Jessie, much like Fleabag, wears her imperfections. She doesn’t always treat the people around her well, including pal Kate (Emma Sidi) and lustful coworker Joe (Joe Barnes). Her frustrations are often aimed at others and that’s integral to her bond with Tom, who doesn’t even share too much screen time with Matafeo over the six installments.
Their “love story” is anything but conventional and at times you wonder how much Jessie and Tom even like each other, but their undeniable spark is hard to refute; they’re like magnets coming in and out of each other’s lives. Jessie’s blunt nature is also reminiscent of Fleabag‘s main character, and while it might turn some away, it’s engrossing to watch as a viewer.
Already renewed for a second season, there’s been some great groundwork set up in this first chapter of Starstruck that will leave viewers hungry for more. Plus, the promise of Minnie Driver‘s return as Tom’s manager Cath, and the addition of Russell Tovey is an even bigger reason to get hooked before Season 2 arrives.
For now, check out the six-episode first season for a rom-com worth viewing. It’s a binge that’s so quick you won’t have time or reason to regret it.
Starstruck, Season 1, Streaming now, HBO Max