Meet-cute comedy ‘Starstruck’ takes some unexpected turns

“Starstruck” is a refreshing comedy about what occurs when a younger lady’s meet-cute with a film star takes a romantic, awkward flip.

New Zealand comic Rose Matafeo co-wrote and stars within the six-episode sequence, premiering Thursday (June 10) on HBO Max. It’s a co-production with the BBC and premiered in late April within the UK.

Matafeo performs Jessie, a 28-year-old New Zealander dwelling in London and holding down two uninspiring jobs, one working the concession stand at a neighborhood movie show. She lives in a small condo together with her roommate/greatest pal, Kate (Emma Sidi), and isn’t any stranger to informal flings. “Being sad doesn’t make you interesting,” Kate tells her.

Each episode unfolds in a unique season and, within the sequence opener, it’s New Year’s Eve. Kate drags Jessie to a celebration at a close-by bar, Jessie will get roaring drunk, and finally ends up sleeping with a man she meets within the males’s room. Unbeknownst to her, he’s film star Tom Kapoor (Nikesh Patel), and the unlikely couple hit it off. “It’s just the cleaner!” a paparazzi yells to his shutterbug compatriots as Jessie emerges from Tom’s condo within the morning — a sign of issues to come back as “Starstruck” chugs ahead.

Photo of Nikesh Patel and Rose Matafeo as Tom and Jessie meeting for the first time in "Starstruck."
Tom (Nikesh Patel) and Jessie (Rose Matafeo) meet at a New Year’s Eve celebration in “Starstruck.”

It turns out that Tom is definitely a great man together with his coronary heart in the suitable place, which is a pleasant departure from the same old celebrity-as-a-self-involved-jerk trope we’re used to seeing. Jessie, too, is an effective individual, and eschews the millennial kneejerk response of turning her encounter with Tom right into a viral social media second: no tweets or selfies or Instagrams in sight, simply her stunned response that she and Tom appear actually considering one another, regardless of their alternate-universe life. (He comes up as “Tom Famous” on her iPhone.)

In the continuing episodes, Tom and Jessie discover themselves thrown collectively in a sequence of unlikely conditions as they each attempt to transfer on with their lives since they don’t see a lot of a future collectively — a scenario for which they each secretly pine. Jessie walks out on Tom after discovering photographs of a girl in his bedside desk; Tom walks out on Jessie after considered one of her jealous, wannabe suitors tells him she has a critical boyfriend. Those sorts of issues.

It’s all achieved with a whimsical-yet-revealing tone and the 2 leads are endearing: Jessie marches to the beat of her personal drummer, firing off one-liners with aplomb, with only a trace of unhappiness behind her bravado. Tom, in the meantime, is fed up with the “movie star” way of life and being managed by his neurotic, pushy agent, performed by Minnie Driver — who refers to on a regular basis folks as “civilians” and lectures him about staying slim (“No bread!” she barks at him when leaving a restaurant). He’s bored together with his new film’s co-star, Sophie Diller (Nadia Parkes) and is simply going by way of the motions of their anticipated off-screen romance. He connects with Jessie, and he or she with him, in that nearly intangible approach.

Photo of Rose Matafeo as Jessie in "Starstruck."
Rose Matafeo as Jessie in “Starstruck,” a six-episode comedy premiering June 10 on HBO Max.
Mark Johnson

Matafeo, a veteran standup comic and TV star in New Zealand, reveals a particular aptitude in writing about Jessie’s on a regular basis life (the sequence was co-written by Matafeo’s podcast co-host, comic/author Alice Snedden) and in growing farcical conditions. Matafeo and Patel have good on-screen chemistry; you consider that Jessie and Tom actually are simpatico, if solely they’ll get previous the various obstacles, private and in any other case, which might be thrown of their approach.

And with “Starstruck” being renewed for a second season, we’ll get the possibility to see the place their story finally ends up.

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