return of the mack

The Most Joyous 99 Seconds of Television This Year Happened on Starstruck

Yes, Jessie (Rose Matafeo) absolutely deserves our applause. Photo: Mark Johnson/BBC/Avalon UK

Approximately 45,000 television shows may have aired when 2021 is all said and done, but I don’t care: The most joyous 99 seconds of television we’ll get over these 12 months have already happened, and they are without a doubt Jessie’s (Rose Matafeo) walk-of-no-shame public-celebration dance sequence after a one-night stand in the opening of Starstruck’s second episode. The exhilaration! The crowd participation! The absolute perfect song choice of Mark Morrison’s “Return of the Mack”!

If you haven’t yet watched HBO Max’s delightful Notting Hill–esque rom-com, in which normal human Jessie sleeps with Tom Kapoor (Nikesh Patel) without realizing he’s a famous actor, do yourself a favor. All six episodes of its first season — which follows Jessie and Tom as they fall for each other over the course of a year — are wonderfully smart, silly, and swoony. It’s a show built to bring us joy, and there’s no better example of that than this minute-and-a-half-long sequence. Honestly, every moment of it is perfect, but here are the second-by-second highlights. May you watch this scene 300 times. You deserve it.

The Initial Post-Sex Good-bye
The scene opens on a sunny London morning as some rando leads our hero (in every sense of the word) out of his canal boat. He tells Jessie to “mind her head” at the doorway. It’s nice. He seems fine. They’ve clearly had a one-night stand, and their good-bye is suitably awkward. But things are about to get interesting.

The Confirmation
Listen, you can’t just be out here not confirming that what you’re hoping is casual sex with zero emotional baggage is actually casual sex with zero emotional baggage. Many a relationship has started by making that mistake. But this isn’t amateur hour — Jessie and this dude agree that they’ll probably never see each other again, and they both feel great about that.

The Purest Joy
Let that elusive feeling of unadulterated joy wash over you, folks. Jessie has just had no-strings-attached sex. That “Return of the Mack” beat hits. She opens her arms wide. She beams. She would never take this feeling for granted. And it is here when Jessie becomes our One True Queen. She did it, friends. She did it.

Suck it, Haters
You know, the Suck It Crotch Slam is simply not used enough these days, and God, if this post has any type of legacy, I hope it’s that of women reclaiming the move for themselves. Jessie deploys it perfectly here, partly because of the joyous energy, partly because her suck it seems to be directed toward all the haters everywhere, and those haters truly deserve to be told that they can suck it.

High Fives for All!
But especially for this woman out for her morning run. Jessie and this woman do not need to verbally communicate. This woman saw Jessie’s suck it and recognizes the exuberance inherent in low-stakes coitus. This is a high-five of understanding and solidarity and celebration.

There is so much joy and admiration here that Jessie and the runner turn toward each other one last time and triumphantly shake their arms in the air. This is feminism.

Thank You, Kind Sir.
An older gentleman tosses Jessie a finger gun and she acknowledges his approval by way of a tip of the fake hat. This move typically has zero swagger attached to it, but here, the swagger is infinite.

Bouncing Off the Wall
The no-strings-attached sex has filled Jessie with so much good-vibe energy that she has no way to expend it all except, perhaps, to attempt a run up an actual wall. She is not great at it. We’ve all been there.

We’re Swinging From Pergolas Now
Who among us has not wanted to swing from the beams of a restaurant pergola while unsuspecting brunch patrons watch in awe? Only a person with the confidence of a woman who has just had a good lay could attempt and succeed at such a feat. In this moment, she is invincible.

It’s Called Mutual Respect, Okay?
As the old saying goes, with great risk comes great reward. And is there any greater risk than tossing out an enthusiastic double thumbs-up not knowing if it will be reciprocated? That kind of rejection can change a person. But friends, that doesn’t happen here. Not today.

Vitamin-C Break
How blessed is this stranger to have Jessie chug her orange juice while performing perfect hip rolls directly in front of her? If only every brunch came with this kind of table service.

The Art of the Chair Dance
Now she is straddling a chair backward and giving it a lap dance? It brings tears of joy to my eyes.

The Entire Restaurant Is in This Now
How great not only to be riding that high from good sex but then to get an entire restaurant to vicariously ride that high too? Such power Jessie wields. And by the look of her triumphant run down the aisle as she soaks in the applause, she knows it.

The Final Bow
Not to be dramatic, but never in the history of the world has anyone or anything deserved to take a bow as much as Jessie does after completing her assault of joy on this group of unsuspecting eaters.

Solo Bridge Dance
As if Jessie would just walk the rest of the way home in a normal manner after that — she’s dancing the whole way home! This includes her solo dance party on the canal bridge. Let’s cherish the entire thing, but I’d be remiss to not point out that high kick.

Roommates Who Get Each Other Are the Best Roommates
Jessie’s roommate Kate (Emma Sidi) doesn’t even have to look behind her when she hears Jessie dancing to “Return of the Mack.” She knows exactly what that means, and that kind of roommate connection is hard to find these days.

Thank You, Starstruck Editors
With a final YES! and a hop off to her room from Jessie, the title card drops, ending this perfect opening to an episode of television. Treasure it always.

This Year’s Most Joyous 99 Seconds Happened on Starstruck