Matafeo and cowriter Alice Snedden’s dialogue was so funny, and Matafeo’s chemistry with Nikesh Patel was simultaneously adorable and electric. And in the summer of 2021, that electricity was an unexpected revelation for people who’d been forced to keep their distance from humanity for far too long. To say that Starstruck has opened a door for a new, episodic era of the rom-com is not to discredit the previous nods to romantic comedy throughout television history, of course. Will-they-or-won’t-they couples have been a staple of television all the way from sitcoms to crime procedurals. But in these trying, socially stunted times, we simply cannot wait five seasons for Mr. Sheffield to wise up and propose to Fran Fine. No, in these times, we demand love stories so compelling that they must be the main feature, emotional messes so big and avoidable that they require an entire season to be cleaned up, and chemistry so charged it can stand the test of literal viewing time.
Brits really do seem to be doing TV rom-com best, with precursors to Starstruck like Lovesick—but there’s also no denying that Lovesick was originally titled Scrotal Recall, which zaps quite a bit of the rom from its com. Then there’s Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who went ahead and made the second season of Fleabag a spine-melting romantic comedy—I welcome any currently running series to do the same.
Here’s looking at you: https://pastelink.net/d982069i
Long-running TV shows like The Mindy Project, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, and Insecure were charmingly referential to the rom-com genre while not necessarily adhering to the tropes and beats themselves. And of course, there have been a number of more straightforward examples of rom-com television in the past decade: You’re the Worst, Love, and Catastrophe, to name a few. But the commonality in all of those is that they’re dark-comedy rom-coms. Quality-wise, that’s great, but it’s simply not the vibe right now. To quote the soundtrack of a top-10 rom-com: What the world needs now, is love, sweet love. We’re looking for unrealistic expectations of love; meets so cute they rot your teeth out; undiscovered young Darcys, and ingenues looking for their Emmys; charming high jinks that don’t require a mid-movie montage, and precisely one tonally appropriate musical number. And banter, baby—please just give us banter! Starstruck doesn’t just tap into a pair of actors’ chemistry, it intentionally plays in good old-fashioned rom-com tropes; it also features a man who actually laughs at a woman’s jokes, and emotional stakes beyond will-they-or-won’t-they and well into can-they-or-can’t-they territory by the time Season 2 rolled around this spring. Starstruck is the blueprint for the rom-com shift we need right now, and this is my official plea for TV creators to take notice and hop on this runaway bandwagon (likely being pursued at top speed by an attractive young person who’s realized just in the nick of time that they’re in love with said bandwagon).
Rom-com TV means the potential for both quality and quantity. It means actually getting to enjoy a slow burn slowly. It means employing a huge, mostly uncharted television landscape to explore the fuzziest, messiest rom-com themes. In tone, Starstruck takes us all the way back to the screwball comedy of His Girl Friday and combines it with the famous-person-falls-in-love-with-normie trope—yet it features an interracial couple in which neither partner is white. You know what that is? Growth! Now let’s do Bridget Jones’s Diary without the fatphobia, or Some Like It Hot meets Working Girl for the work-from-home set. And for the love of god, cast Keke Palmer in all of it. There are so many other rom-com tropes to be inverted, subverted, and stretched out over multiple episodes of television with Jeff Bezos’s billions. There used to be an entire rom-com subgenre about presidents’ daughters, for goodness’ sake! That may be a far less aspirational position now, but I know Amazon already has the rights to Casey McQuiston’s Red, White & Royal Blue, and I beg of them to make it into a 10-episode limited series instead of three movies spread out over three years where the 25-year-olds who look like 18-year-olds age into 30-year-olds who do not look like 19-year-olds. At the end of 2020, Bridgerton showed us that people are horny, and more than willing to accept horniness into their mainstream media consumption; Starstruck showed us that horniness can be romantic and funny and shamelessly based on no semblance of reality whatsoever. Are you likely to meet a movie star, discover that he’s desperately in need of a reality check in the form of you, fall deeply in love, and traipse across a lake to declare your complicated love for him? You are not. You don’t even live in London. The only way to experience that fairy tale is … well, from the comfort of your own home. The roaring hot vaxx summer of 2021 that was promised never really came because, of course, the pandemic never really went. Instead, in the summer of 2021, and the spring of 2022, we got a sweet little story about a boy, standing in front of a girl, telling her she’s genuinely the most stressful person he’s ever met. And while I previously looked forward to chasing quarantine with sinful behavior and bathtubs full of booze, I’m now open to the idea that the vibe shift all along was actually just the needed return of something warm and cheerful to our pop culture landscape.
All of the big streaming platforms have fascinating new movies and shows out on streaming this weekend, so let’s highlight one from each! Dive deeper into the world of social media stars through the new Netlfix-original series Hype House; you will not believe that there is more to learn about these people than what they already share with the would via TikTok. Over on Amazon Prime Video, George Clooney is directing a new drama film, The Tender Bar, starring Ben Affleck and Tye Sheridan. Hulu is teaching an amazing history lesson this weekend through ABC’s new historical drama series, The Women of the Movement. Last, but certainly not least, is the season 2 premiere of the hit HBO Max series, Euphoria. We have been waiting for this one for a while, and the dark teen drama is ready to pay off! Curious to find out more? Check out the rest of the hit titles new on streaming this weekend below: https://infonewsviewers.blogspot.com/2022/04/playing-villain-in-this-youre-story.html