How the Series Nails the Celebrity Romance Trope
Feb 10, 2023
Home Features Starstruck: How the Series Nails the Celebrity Romance Trope
By virtue of its cast, authentic means of storytelling, and believable character journeys, Starstruck superbly nails the celebrity romance trope.
One of the most challenging tropes to properly explore believably is the “celebrity romance.” On paper, it sounds easy, but seldom does it come across as engaging, evocative, and mesmerizing in reality. Some of the problems include odd scenarios, like how the first meeting occurs and whether the average person in the relationship is a fan or not. The writing tends to place too many differences between the characters’ careers, tackling a power imbalance more than just an ordinary thing that’s common for many couples. There’s also a frustrating depiction of the “not like other girls” trope that tends to occur, especially when the woman is the non-celebrity.
The writing, in a nutshell, makes it seem as though the trope is an impossible, once-in-a-lifetime occurrence, making it far more awkward than it should be. Luckily, that’s not the case with Rose Matafeo’s Starstruck, which airs on BBC One in the UK and HBO Max in the states. Matafeo both writes for the series and stars in it as the lead character of Jessie, a struggling Millennial whose one-night stand with actor Tom Kapoor (Nikesh Patel) turns into something bigger. By virtue of its cast, authentic means of storytelling, and believable character journeys, Starstruck superbly nails the celebrity romance trope. The hit series will be returning for Season 3 (via Variety), providing viewers with more fantastic romance in the future.
Jessie and Tom’s First Meeting is Natural
On many occasions, the initial meeting of two characters matters significantly in a romance. And often, the celebrity romance trope harps on this idea that the non-celebrity cannot stand the actor and, thereby, would never dream of being with them. It begs the question of whether we’re in more of a rivals-to-lovers territory here than a celebrity romance. But with Starstruck, Jessie and Tom’s first meeting is an organic, deliciously awkward New Year’s Eve classic. Jessie’s awkwardness versus Tom’s nonchalance allows chemistry to do the talking, pushing them toward allowing physical desires to fire through.
Jessie doesn’t learn who Tom is until she sees a film poster of him at his house. From there, the awareness and subsequent awkwardness do most of the nudging. The series establishes most of the groundwork in the first episode by allowing them to try embarking on something and throwing a wrench in everything right away. One night turns to two, and then a three-month time jump toward the second episode clears the air in a way that showcases how they can manage the relationship if they go forward. Case in point: because Jessie doesn’t initially know Tom and has no feelings about him, good or bad, the remarks about his career, charged through her decision to joke with him consistently, makes it feel more natural.
Related: Starstruck: Reasons to Watch this Rom-Com Series
It Grounds Character Journeys
For a series that’s short on time and with episodes, Starstruck does an incredible job of grounding its character journeys through relatable lenses. Viewers aren’t merely bearing witness to the glitz and glamour of Tom’s life, but we get glimpses of his struggles as well as watch Jessie navigate through more than one job. In approaching the romance through their diverging paths, it connects them by ensuring that their characters aren’t just one thing, but multi-faceted and layered.
Further, the series brings a more substantial romance to life as it consistently spends time allowing the character journeys to come centerfold. As viewers watch them navigate through one frustrating misunderstanding as time passes, it allows their means to connect in a way that feels more seamless and, perhaps, as on the nose as it is, more meant to be. Because neither of them has it all together, and they’re invariably trying to do better than they were before, it makes dating complications more understandable.
Related: Best TV Romantic Comedies That Take Place in London
It Allows the Story to be Messy
When it comes to romance or dramas in general, there’s a difference between throwing wrenches for complications for the sake of shock value and presenting viewers with messy occurrences that mirror the real world more authentically. Life is chaotic — love is even more muddled, and the wreckages in Starstruck make the story more compelling. When both characters and the story get to be messy for authenticity to place real human struggles at the center, then there’s something rewarding in the process of watching it all occur.
These perils in their daily lives make the moment when Tom and Jessie get together much more exciting as viewers because it allows us to be with them throughout the story. The miscommunication they consistently find themselves in isn’t merely to delay the romance more, but it’s to ensure that when the “I love yous” are exchanged, they’ll be better equipped to handle it all in a way they couldn’t with their exes in the past. It’s precisely why Starstruck continues to be so rewarding: because the shortcomings ensure that Tom is more like Jessie than she thinks, making not only their chemistry more raw and exciting, but their compatibility more understandable.
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