Judd Apatow’s new Netflix series Love isn’t your typical rom-com. For starters our couple – a pair of heartbroken singles – don’t meet until the end of the first episode. And when they do, it’s not your average meet-cute.
Gus (Paul Rust) – a “repressed, hostile nerd” reeling from being accused of being “fake nice” – and Mickey (Gillian Jacobs) – a self-sabotaging, slightly scary radio producer with an infantile ex-boyfriend – meet at a petrol station in the very early morning. Both hung-over after spectacularly bad nights, Mickey has lost her wallet and is yelling at the cashier. Gus pays for her coffee. And so it begins.
What it is, is unclear. “Hoping for love has f***ing ruined my life,” says Mickey. Are these two confused and disillusioned 30-somethings going to finally find what they are looking for? Or is this interaction going to end in the same unsatisfying way?
What we do know is this is familiar territory. Love is unromantic and awkward. It’s about navigating and making sense of the world; spending your life pretending to be an adult and then freaking out when you realise you are one; being a mess while peers pop out babies, get promoted and just generally get their stuff together. It’s about the “bulls***” that surrounds romantic relationships.
Given the show’s creators – Apatow, Rust and Lesley Arfin – a comparison to Girls is inevitable. But while two episodes into Lena Dunham’s brilliant first season I was hooked, Love and I are not yet smitten.
This comedy doesn’t feel as polished and it’s a little light on comedy. In fact, I was left feeling slightly anxious.
While I can honestly say I’ve never taken Ambien and attended church in a one-peice, that could be because Love feels too close to home for me. It’s at times searing and uncomfortable, capturing that nagging suspicion that we are all doing life wrong.
Or it could be because the first episode – a 40-minute introduction to Gus and Mickey’s misery – feels frustrating and indulgently long.
Love does warm up once our damaged duo actually start hanging out, though. So I will be going on another date. Just don’t go buying a hat…