SPOILER ALERT: This article contains spoilers for the entirety of “Starstruck” Season 2, which is now available to stream on HBO Max.

The first season of “Starstruck” was one of 2021’s most purely delightful TV surprises. Somehow, over six episodes running just 20 minutes each, creator and star Rose Matafeo managed to both embrace and upend the romantic comedy genre with the story of how normal girl Jessie (Matafeo) accidentally slept — and then fell in love — with movie star Tom Kapoor (Nikesh Patel). After a season of ups and downs, its happy ending saw the two decide to stay together despite Jessie buying plane tickets home to New Zealand, Tom’s agent (Minnie Driver) warning him that actors can never date “civilians,” and basically everyone else’s lowered expectations.

The season’s final scene sees Jessie and Tom sitting at the back of a bus peeling away from the airport stop. The music swells, the two turn to each other in stunned joy, and share a relieved kiss. It’s downright lovely — but it could also read as a bit more ominous, given the uncertainty of what might happen next (as is befitting, given its inspiration of “The Graduate”’s notoriously bittersweet finale).

“With a lot of rom-coms, you get to see the happily ever after,” says Patel, “but then you don’t get to see if and how the wheels fall off when reality kicks in.”

Season 2 of “Starstruck,” out today on HBO Max, doesn’t waste time before showing what that answer looks like for Jessie and Tom. Picking up mere seconds after Season 1 left off, the premiere follows the couple wandering around London as Jessie melts down, to Tom’s growing frustration. “It was a lot of fun to just write essentially a nervous breakdown in a relationship,” Matafeo laughs. “Season 2 feels a lot funnier to us, anyway.”

Matafeo and Patel recently spoke to Variety about how the season came together, the emotionally grand (if physically uncomfortable) romantic gesture that ends it, and whether or not we’ve seen the end of “Starstruck.”

Starting Season 2 by diving straight into the immediate aftermath of the Season 1 finale wasn’t always the plan.

In fact, an early attempt at writing the second season ended with Matafeo and her co-writers (Alice Snedden and Nic Sampson) realizing that they needed to start over. “We were writing away from the most interesting aspect of what the story is,” says Matafeo. “It would take all of the air out to have a time jump…there’s so much we’d be missing out on. The most interesting stuff of the situation would be the immediate fallout from making such a wild decision.”

While the first season had plenty of rom-com roadmaps to follow, the second had to find more of its own identity. All Season 1 had to do was show how Jessie and Tom are compatible. Season 2, however, had to figure out how and why these two incredibly different people would choose to stay together. Making things even more surreal was the fact that Season 1, which ends with Jessie and Tom staying on the bus, came out the day before Season 2, which begins with Jessie and Tom leaving the bus, started filming.

“We never really originally planned on starting it immediately after [the Season 1 finale], so we just had to go back and get the exact same bus and exact same costumes on,” Matafeo remembers. “We were shooting all that stuff in the same costume in Southbank, which is quite a touristy area in London, and people who’d seen the show were recognizing us. It was so bizarre to be recognized for something that just had come out, in the exact same costume.”

And about that same costume: Patel thought he’d be “really clever” by asking wardrobe if he could keep his jacket from that season finale scene without realizing he’d end up needing it again for the premiere, let alone all the Season 2 promos. “I can’t ever wear that jacket again!” he groans.

If it helps him feel better at all, Matafeo agrees. “I fully regret not thinking harder about my costume for that last scene of Series 1, not knowing I had to be in it for an entire other episode for Series 2,” she says. By the time they shot the premiere, “it was fucking hot out, but it was supposed to be winter. My hair takes in a lot of heat! I was so fucked from the heat that I’d sort of taken it in like a solar panel and just basically wilted.”

Season 1 pushes back on some of rom-coms’ more annoying tropes, but Season 2 embraces one in particular — to Matafeo’s utter delight.

Throughout her press tour for the first season of “Starstruck,” in which Matafeo was asked over and over again to give her thoughts on the highs and lows of romantic comedy as a genre, Matafeo rolled her eyes at the cliché of clumsy women falling all over themselves in order to get a laugh. And yet in Season 2, Matafeo admits with a grin, “Jessie does have an epic fall, which I fucking loved doing.”

In the fourth episode, while Tom’s off shooting an indie film with a perfect nightmare of a director (played with obvious relish by Russell Tovey), Jessie reconnects with her ex-boyfriend, Ben (Edward Easton), at his grandmother’s funeral. The longer the day gets, the drunker they get, the more vigorously they play their apparently time-honored game of “Who can fake a faint more convincingly?” The night and episode alike end with her avoiding a kiss by launching herself at the ground so hard she breaks her arm.

“I think I was poisoned before in the sense of, ‘Oh, that romcom trope of women always falling over, blah blah blah,’ but it is funny,” Matafeo admits, her grin getting bigger. She gives an example: “Sandra Bullock is not given enough credit for her absolutely elite slapstick quality in falling over. Her falling over in ‘Miss Congeniality’? It’s actually perfect. It’s Buster Keaton level. So, I can’t say that’s one trope we tried to upend anymore, because we absolutely did it.”

This season, we get to meet Tom’s family — who is, shall we say, less than impressed by his glamorous profession.

Tom might be a movie star, but in “Starstruck,” he’s so utterly grounded that it’s almost downright confusing. For Patel, though, Tom’s lack of ego doesn’t feel entirely false. “It’s possible for people to be incredibly famous and in the spotlight to be as unassuming, insecure, and self-conscious as anyone else, if not more so,” he says, “because it’s just such a fucking weird profession.”

Still, Tom’s personality gets more context in the second season, which introduces his parents (Mina Anwar and Sindhu Vee) and brother (Parth Thakerar). In these scenes, it’s clear that Tom’s family has been humbling him his entire life with their blunt assessments of his work and relationships alike.

“I think it’s a really fun dynamic that Tom has a certain life that he completely leaves at the door when he goes home and just gets ripped apart,” as Patel puts it. “And in terms of representation onscreen, it’s great to see Tom’s family life, and that it’s a dynamic where the comedy doesn’t derive from cultural or identity-based issues. They’re just a mildly dysfunctional family that doesn’t give a shit if their son’s a movie star.”

At the end of Season 2, Jessie and Tom have a fight and break up — and then three months later, get back together in spectacular rom-com fashion.

In the waning minutes of the season finale, Tom and Jessie sit in separate rowboats at the end of their friend’s chaotic bachelor party, miserable. Just a couple hours before, Jessie asked jokingly/not jokingly why they broke up, and Tom answered with the kind of thoughtful honesty that rips your heart in two. “I think you wanted to be with me,” he says, “but that you didn’t want to be in a relationship.”

It’s one of the series’ most true and devastating lines — and one that makes a lot of sense when you go back and rewatch just how much Jessie freaks out at the prospect of committing to being Tom’s girlfriend. “Jessie’s character has developed into someone who’s so independent, and confident, and happy with herself — but the negative side of that is that she is unwilling to compromise,” says Matafeo. “In a way, to her, commitment is a compromise. It would change the way that her life is. So she’s not necessarily afraid of commitment. She’s afraid of being changed.”

Once Tom lays it out for her, though, Jessie realizes that she does actually want to be in a relationship with him, after all. And so she makes a bold (read: drunken) decision: to jump out of her rowboat and wade over to Tom’s to make sure he knows it as soon as possible.

Patel fondly describes the experience of making this scene as typical of the “Starstruck” ethos to roll with the punches while staying true to the script. “We had two days on the lake at Victoria Park, and the first day, it was beautiful sunshine. The second day, the weather completely turned,” he remembers. “But actually, it was one of those magic moments where after the initial, like, ‘how are we going to get this done now that it’s raining’ question, they made the weather turning part of the scene.” With Jessie’s grand gesture interrupted by rain, the moment only became more ridiculous and perfectly fitting.

“That frustration was real,” Patel recalls with a laugh. “But I’ll just say, it’s more romantic as well as to be getting rained on. We’ve seen it before, haven’t we?”

When asked if this scene might have roots in a similar moment from Matafeo’s beloved “Bridget Jones’ Diary,” she laughs. “It was never a specific reference. But then sometimes we’ll do something where it’s like, ‘ohh, yeah.’ Everything is a sort of reference or a reference to reference, either subconsciously or not.”

“Starstruck” was renewed by HBO Max before Season 1 even premiered. So now that Season 2 is out, will there be a third season?

“I remember thinking that day we filmed the ending [of Season 2], ‘this would be a pretty damn good ending,’” says Patel. “But I love spending time with this character, being in this relationship, and seeing how it grows and develops. But that’s a question for Rose, whether she sees this as a ‘two and done’ or if she’s got more in her. I’m crossing my fingers, but I don’t know.”

On that score, Matafeo insists that she doesn’t know, either. “Truthfully, I have no clue,” she says. “The weird thing is that the first [season] felt like the show could end there, and now the second one, it feels like it could end there, as well. Both only happened because we had something to say.” So while trilogies might be rare in the rom-com world, Matafeo will at least say that, “If the idea is there, that’ll be good.”

Whether or not this is the end of the road for “Starstruck,” Matafeo is proud of how the show twisted her favorite genre into a new shape. “I don’t think it was ever an intentional thing to flip the trope with, ‘Let’s have a female character in a rom-com who has self confidence and isn’t necessarily looking for fulfillment in a relationship,’” Matafeo says of the way this second season ended up playing out. Then again, as she says, “I think that’s always been the case with the show, though. It’s never been outright, like, ‘I’m such an unlucky loser in love and I need a boyfriend.’ It’s just that love happens to her.” It just so happens that this love comes in the form of a handsome movie star, but hey: Every rom-com needs at least a little fantasy to make it shine, and “Starstruck” sparkled with the best of them.

Seasons 1 and 2 of “Starstruck” are now available to stream on HBO Max.