Stream It Or Skip It: ‘Starstruck’ Season 2 On HBO Max, Where Jessie’s Grand Gesture Has Real-World Consequences Otesanya David March 24, 2022

Stream It Or Skip It: ‘Starstruck’ Season 2 On HBO Max, Where Jessie’s Grand Gesture Has Real-World Consequences

Stream It Or Skip It: ‘Starstruck’ Season 2 On HBO Max, Where Jessie’s Grand Gesture Has Real-World Consequences


At the end of the first season of Starstruck, the unlikely couple of Jessie (Rose Matafeo) and Tom (Nikesh Patel) came to a crossroads, where Jessie decides to stay in London rather than go back home to New Zealand. But after the big romantic gesture, real life kicks back in, which is what season 2 is all about.


Opening Shot: After a montage of the first season, we pick up right where Starstruck left off in Season 1, with Jessie and Tom sitting in the back of a bus on its way to Heathrow.

The Gist: Jessie has just made the grand gesture to stay in London instead of going home to New Zealand, mainly to give it a go with Tom. But as romantic a notion as that is, Jessie immediately goes into a panic. What will she tell her parents, who paid for her ticket back to New Zealand? Her mother took the time to put fresh sheets on her bed, after all. Where is she going to work? But most importantly, is this relationship with Tom worth turning her life upside down for?

After going on a breakfast “date”, Jessie and Tom go back to her old flat, where they accidentally find her roomie Kate (Emma Sidi) having sex with her boyfriend Ian (Al Roberts). This is when Jessie unloads all of her doubts onto Kate, but Kate reassures her, “This is going to be the hardest year of your life, no question, but I’ll be with you every step of the way.”

While they’re playing games at a Dave & Buster’s-type place, Tom reveals to Jessie that he just bought her an open-ended plane ticket to New Zealand, a fumbling gesture that he thinks is romantic. Jessie, of course, thinks otherwise; he thinks it’s to take the pressure off her feeling forced to stay because of him, but she thinks it’s because he has doubts. After getting tickets for The Real Magic Mike from a park caricaturist, she decides to go by herself.

Tom is also under some pressure, as he blew off a flight to Ireland to shoot an independent film. His agent Cath (Minnie Driver) calls him, incensed that he missed the flight. He then has to figure out how to balance his acting career and his relationship with Jess, trying to toe the line between being overbearing and being distant.

Photo: HBO Max

What Shows Will It Remind You Of? Last year, we felt Starstruck Season 1 was like the early seasons of Master of None, and we still think that way.

Our Take: As with season 1, Starstruck relies on the considerable charms of Matafeo, who has matured into a very assured comic actress in the first couple of episodes of season 2. We see her assuredness in the waves of different reactions Jessie has to the rash decision she made, with doubts and excitement being expressed in the same sentence.

What it seems like season 2 will rely on, though, is more of an ensemble feel, now that we know Tom, Kate, Ian and Jessie’s movie theater boss Joe (Joe Barnes). In episode 2, Jessie has to contend with not only the fact that even the low-level theater job isn’t around but the fact that she wrote emotional letters to everyone in her life, thinking she’d never see them again. Joe is one of them, given the crush he used to have on her.

It’s also going to rely more on building the relationship between Jessie and Tom, rather than concentrate on the “regular girl-famous guy” dynamic that dominated the first season. It’s already been established that Jessie was never wowed by Tom’s job or fame, and it seems that they’re starting the relationship phase of their pairing on equal footing. She makes mistakes, and so does he. It’s a very modern romantic story, even though it might proceed in ways that we’ve seen in rom-com series many times.

Sex and Skin: Kate and Ian are en fuego, as we described above, but that’s about it.

Parting Shot: Tom comes to The Real Magic Mike to apologize and tell her he’s taking the flight to Ireland. After he leaves, she enjoys the second act, but also shows worry on her face.

Sleeper Star: Emma Sidi is always funny as Jessie’s warm but overzealous friend and roommate Kate.

Most Pilot-y Line: Ian is so uncomfortable at the coffee shop after Jessie and Tom walk in on them, that he actually says the words, “You know how girls like to gab.”

Our Call: STREAM IT. Season 2 of Starstruck takes the show from the novelty of the star-regular-person dynamic of the first season and concentrates on the chemistry of the ensemble, which is the sign of a maturing show.

Joel Keller (@joelkeller) writes about food, entertainment, parenting and tech, but he doesn’t kid himself: he’s a TV junkie. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, Slate, Salon,,, Fast Company and elsewhere.

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