Created by Judd Apatow, Paul Rust, and Lesley Arfin, Love is simply great. I really enjoyed watching it; mostly for the fact that it’s different from all the usual rom-coms. It doesn’t have wishy-washy clichés but rather it dives into the complexities and realism of relationships.
Typically, one would expect the two main leads to get to know and fall for each other. They’re supposed to be the quintessential couple that the audience roots for. However, this is not that kind of show. In fact in this show, I was rooting for the two main characters not to find each other and become a couple. Mickey and Gus are terrible, not just for each other, but also as people. They have faults in completely different and very real ways.
Gillian Jacobs portrays the character Mickey, the manager of a radio station, who appears to be almost an extension of her character from Community. She’s loud but astute, and prone to impulsivity based on little information. However, she’s not the ‘crazy-girl’ archetype as we see; although we do see how deep-rooted some of her issues really are. Her story prominently features her radio-show boss, her quirky Australian roommate and her ex.
On the other side we have Paul Rust as Gus, someone who seems the typical ‘nice-guy’ but turns out to not be all that nice. He’s an on set-tutor and wannabe writer on the set of a supernatural series called ‘Witchita’. He struggles with trying to be taken more seriously as well as dealing with precocious but unhappy child actors. Later on, an attractive actor on set warms to him in a way Mickey is hesitant to, which leads to troubles down the line.
Stepping away from the main stars, the ensemble cast are also great. Sure, they give generic advice now and then but they all feel like real people who have their own thing going. In particular, Mickey’s roommate Bertie, played by Claudia O’Doherty is charming. She could have been nothing more than a smiling joke but she’s able to really shine in her role. A particularly memorable episode is when Bertie and Gus go on a date and are manipulated by Mickey to compete to be the worst date ever.
A very nice touch in this series (also present in the equally great Master of None) is the nature of the episodes in general. Sure there is an on-going story and a serialised element, but all the episodes are, to a degree, standalone and self-contained. It’s a nice change of pace from all the other shows we spend our time binge-watching. Each episode resolves around some occasion or incident like a party, a hang-out, or even just waiting for a text message. In fact, you realise the two leads don’t actually spend a lot of time together on the show. We mostly follow their separate lives and problems; the two of them trying to decide whether to actually go for a relationship forms the glue of the show.
When the show actually sends Gus and Mickey on a date, we’ve grown fairly used to seeing them apart. It makes us see the differences between the two, as well as their issues and how it ultimately leads to the interactions between the two. Things go right, but things also go wrong and this is a refreshing change from all the typical romantic stories we’ve seen or are accustomed to. It’s not that the characters aren’t seeking love, there’s just an abundance of selfishness and self-loathing to overcome on the journey.
An interesting aspect that’s shown in the series is the current generation’s fixation on text messages, or just messages in general. We see how big a part they play in relationships, for better or for worse, and the problems people face when they become too overly reliant on, or analytical of texts.
Outside of the whole, ‘will they won’t they’ story, there are some nice moments in-between. Mickey and a friend take drugs and go on a wild adventure on a subway. Similarly, Gus meets up with his friends regularly to make up theme songs for movies which don’t have them. There’s general comments about Spaceballs, and Pretty Woman among other movies and things. The world feels filled-in and natural with lots of little nuggets of enjoyment here and there.
At the end of the day, Love is very much its own thing and plays with a lot of things that have little to do with the title. It’s not that love is something which can’t be sought, but rather that there are a lot of obstacles and issues that need to be dealt with in the process. No character is who you think they are on first viewing and all the performances are top-notch.
This might not be the kind of show for people who don’t like awkward situations. For everyone else, this show is rewarding due to its rejection of standard tropes, its bluntness, as well as the fact that it’s simply funny.
Love is available on Netflix