The creator of a hit BBC/HBO show says she is dealing with some “guilt” about making a romantic comedy because of the message it sends to young women.
“Starstruck” follows protagonist Jessie, a cinema worker who discovers her one-night stand with Tom just happened to be with a movie star. The plot, according to creator Rose Matafeo, was inspired by a night out with her friends in London when they ran into a famous actor and ended up spending the evening with him.
Matafeo, who also plays the lead role of Jessie, says she has a different mindset than the one that guided her when she first created the popular sitcom.
“Maybe through ‘Starstruck’ I’ve added to the canon of a genre that I do have a lot of respect for, but I think is maybe bad?” Matafeo told the UK’s Guardian. “One that’s limiting for women in its presentation of romantic love and fulfillment… So maybe I feel a massive sense of guilt for making a romcom.”
Matafeo says she realized that periods of being single can actually be some of “the most creatively fulfilling,” and questioned why she spent her twenties trying to chase romantic love.
“Now I’ve got so many conflicting feelings about love, relationships and romantic ideals,” she said. “As I’m getting older I’m asking: why did I feel through my 20s that finding romantic love and settling down was such a motivation in life? Maybe I don’t want to be adding to that pressure and expectation of romantic love being the be all and end all. Maybe I want to encourage younger women like myself to aspire to other things.”
The media has published some deep dives into feminism in TV and film as of late with the massive success of “Barbie.” The film is wildly popular, making Greta Gerwig the first female solo director with a movie to gross $1 billion at the global box office. While supporters have praised the movie for a sense of female empowerment – in the film the Barbies band together to try and reclaim their power back from the Kens in Barbieland – critics say the movie came across as preachy and used the word “patriarchy” one too many times.
“OK, ‘Barbie’: I was hoping it wouldn’t be preachy, man-hating, and a #ZombieLie – alas, it was all three,” comedian and podcast host Bill Maher wrote on X. “What is a Zombie Lie? Something that never was true, but certain people refuse to stop saying it (tax cuts for the rich increase revenues, e.g.); OR something that USED to be true but no longer is, but certain people pretend it’s still true. “Barbie” is this kind of #ZombieLie.”
But podcast host Joe Rogan didn’t get what all the outrage was about and failed to see anything “anti-men” themes in the movie.
“No one’s ever done a movie like this before,” he said. “This is not like anything else you could say. It was a bizarre movie, but it was a fun, silly movie, I laughed. But at the end of it I was like, ‘How did people get outraged at that?’ I know some people personally who said it’s anti-men. I’m like, ‘No, it’s making fun of dorks.’”
“Are we going to do this thing where we put all men as men, it’s one category, we’re not going to judge people as individuals?” he added.
“Starstruck’s” season three debuts this September, and Matafeo says it will look a little different from its two predecessors.
“Season one was the romcom, and season two explored what happens after that fairytale romcom ending,” she explained.
The third one, however, will address the question, “What’s it like to have an ex?”
“It’s definitely something I wouldn’t have been able to write in my mid-20s,” she said.
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