Look, is An Astrological Guide for Broken Hearts going to win awards? Honestly, ever since Emily in Paris got nominated for an Emmy, I don’t even try to guess about what will and won’t win awards. But, my general point is that this is not prestige television. No, this is tasty-but-uncomplicated, rom-com comfort food where the first episode felt like it took five hours to play out and by the end of the sixth episode I knew my life would never be the same if there wasn’t a second season. I may be prone to hyperbole, but you get the picture.
Alice (Claudia Gusmano) is an extremely capable but overlooked production assistant at DoraTV. She is still patching together the pieces of her heart since her long-time boyfriend Carlo (Alberto Paradossi) broke up with her. Of course, that’s harder to do since they’re ostensibly still friends and they still work together at the TV station alongside his current girlfriend Cristina (Lucrezia Bertini), who is tall, long-haired, stylish, toothy, and willowy. Let’s be clear, Alice is freakin’ adorable with her brown, shoulder length hair, straight bangs, edgy tortoise shell glasses, and layered outfits. But it’s obvious that Cristina is supposed to have that intimidating kind of socially acceptable external beauty that might make another woman’s self-esteem crumple at the edges. On the night we meet them, Carlo is asking for Alice’s thoughts on the engagement ring he’s about to give to Cristina who, he casually mentions, is also pregnant. Now, I’ve only just met both characters, but I still really want Alice to just pop Carlo in the nose and tell him to fuck off. She does not. Instead, she grabs a bottle of champagne and leaves Carlo and all her coworkers in the bar to celebrate the happy couple while she drinks herself into oblivion and drunk dials her best friend Paola (Esther Elisha).
The next morning she wakes up hungover and late only to remember she has an Important Meeting. No, seriously, it says RIUNONE IMPORTANTE!!! on her chalkboard, which made me laugh out loud, because who the hell labels their meetings that way? You might be underestimating our intelligence, Dear Writers!
Anyway, Alice catches a taxi in the pouring rain where she sits on a newspaper, which leaves the imprint of a crossword puzzle on her butt. I thought it kind of worked as a funky addition to the outfit, but she disagrees. So, once at work, she dives into the costume room to change, but not before having a somewhat snarky interaction with a Stranger with a Genetically Blessed Face who just happens to be loitering in the office.
Are you sitting down? Because it’s going to shock the pants off you to learn that the Stranger turns out to be Davide Sardi (Michele Rosiello), the new boss who is going to shake things up at Dora TV. No! They got off on the wrong foot AND he’s attractive? It’s true! Surely these two will not develop an immediate attraction for each other that they try to deny for as long as possible, even though life keeps tossing them into awkwardly close situations where there is so much attraction that their genitals seem in danger of spontaneously catching on fire, but in a good way!?! (Spoiler: They most certainly will. Why the heck else would we be watching?)
Thinking she has royally screwed things up with the new boss and might lose her job, Alice stomps off the bathroom to fret and feel sorry for herself. She’s so caught up in her thoughts that she accidentally stumbles into the men’s room where she meets Tio (Lorenzo Adorni), an actor with his own Genetically Blessed Face, living with his aging grandmother who fervently believes in the power of astrology, but definitely not true love or heteronormative standards. Even though she initially snorts at his astrological beliefs, they become immediate and fast friends. He sends her a voice memo of her horoscope every day, and outlines why each star sign would or would not be a good fit for her. (Admittedly, I let a lot of the astrology stuff wash over me without listening too closely.)
In order to try to get past her hang up on Carlo, Alice goes on dates with some really terrible guys. There’s one who gets back together with his ex while they’re on a date; one who calls himself Lupo (Wolf) and is clearly trying to take advantage of how much she’s had to drink; and one who ticks all the boxes, except her box, if you know what I mean. Meanwhile, she drunkenly pitches an idea for an astrological dating show hosted by Tio to Davide that turns into a great success.
From the very start it’s obvious that Alice is the glue that holds the studio together. Her producer Enrico (Fausto Maria Sciarappa) relies on her for everything from accompanying him on pitches to soothing the talent. She can pull together everyone for a shoot in less than five minutes and fix the vending machine. Carlo, ugh, we already discussed how much he relies on her for personal feedback, but he also wants her to be his support for work-related projects as well. When she gets to head up her own show he’s intensely jealous and treats her like trash, so basically what you’d expect of someone with an inflated, fragile ego. On top of that, Alice protects Carlo far more than he deserves. I’m hoping this is just part of her growing pains as a person, but for the time being it’s a real pain in my ass as a viewer and I can only hope that eventually she squashes him like a cucaracha. Or I suppose he could mature, realize all his past mistakes, and make amends, but the former sounds far more satisfying to watch.
Clearly, her talent at the studio has been overlooked for a long time, but it irks me that Alice is largely passive in her rise to power. We see Davide watching her as she capably handles things, so it’s through his perspective, not hers, that we’re seeing her abilities. Then, she’s barely conscious and doesn’t even remember giving the genius pitch for her show. It’s only because Davide was giving her a ride home, and ferrying her away from Lupo’s carnal desires, that it becomes a reality at all.
Aside from being Alice’s newfound friend and Paola’s competition for bestie, Tio’s storyline isn’t subtle—in the same way that Wile E. Coyote’s attempts to trap the Road Runner aren’t subtle—but it’s still sweet to watch it unfold. I mean, any time a character says that they don’t “believe” in long-term love or relationships, you KNOW some monogamy is coming barreling toward them like a very on-time train. Our only job as viewers is to relax and watch them get blissfully hit full force by it. Honestly, the only part of Tio that I could do without are the cut-ins where he, as the host of the dating show, tells about the qualities specific to each astrological sign. Yes, part of this due to my own disinterest in astrology, but it also breaks up the flow of the series and feels unnecessarily expositive. We already have Tio the character giving Alice daily horoscopes and Tio the character telling Alice why she shouldn’t date certain signs, do we really need Tio the dating game host explaining the signs to us again in a different format? It seems like astrological overkill, but then again I still can’t remember what differentiates a Leo from a Scorpio, so maybe take what I say with a grain of salt or stars or whatever.
Obviously, neither you nor I need to be able to read the stars in order to see where any part of this show is going. No, it’s obviousness is part of its appeal, thank you very much. The characters are charming, the friendships believable, the romantic tension palpable, the faces blessed genetically, and the dating mishaps entertaining. My fingers are so itchy to end this with yet another astrology-ish joke, but I’m pretty sure I’ve already exceeded my legal limit. But if you like quirky rom-com series, signs do point to you enjoying this one. Oh my stars, I did it again. I’ve lost all control. Someone please stop me.