Love is many things. Wonderful, frustrating, hilarious, upsetting, confusing and occasionally completely senseless.
They’re all quite apt descriptions of Netflix’s Love, too. Sometimes the plot is irritating. Often you think that the two central characters being in a relationship is daft and makes no sense. And yet this offbeat romantic comedy also frequently makes you laugh out loud and feel utterly compelled to spend time in its company.
Love is about Gus (Paul Rust) and Mickey (Gillian Jacobs). They meet by coincidence at a convenience store when Mickey forgets her wallet and Gus offers to pay for her coffee.
Both are on a downward spiral. Gus has recently discovered that his long-term relationship with Natalie (Milana Vayntrub) is over after she admitted cheating on him, while Mickey is bored of being stuck in an on-off relationship with wastrel and coke addict Eric.
Gus and Mickey’s meeting is serendipitous, romantic… and ridiculous.
After the closing moments of the pilot saw Gus offering spending nearly $10 on a total stranger (we’re in a Judd Apatow TV show here, not reality) when Mickey insists he buys her a packet of cigarettes to go with that coffee, the second episode – appropriately called One Long Day – sees them embark on a quest to find Mickey’s wallet. She wants to pay Gus back but she lost it, while drunk, at what she thinks was a church the night before.
The whole day stretches ahead of them – going straight from getting high to getting breakfast and eating it on the bonnet of her car (something you only really do if you’re in a US romcom).
Not that there’s a spark straight away. How else could viewers be hooked over 10 episodes and almost five hours? Gus thinks Mickey’s into him; she thinks he’d be best suited to her roommate Bertie (Claudia O’Doherty, above). They go on a date, it’s not so great and Mickey and Gus think they could be suited after all. You know the deal.
But what Love does so well is that it traces the lines of heady early days getting to know one another. From the early stages, when a date can stretch out to 30 hours and every message and phone call is laden with hidden meaning, all the way through to second thoughts, doubts about where this dalliance could be leading and inevitable arguments. The tension between Mickey and Gus, as well as the affection, makes Love feel real.
Netflix have commissioned a third season before the second run of 12 episodes (two episodes longer than the first season) has even been released. The pulling power of Apatow means that he has attracted an impressive roster of guest directors for the first series, including John Slattery, Steve Buscemi, Dean Holland.
Written by Apatow, Rust and Lesleu Arfin, who worked on Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Girls, Love is essentially one of Apatow’s movies stretched out to a five-hour runtime. Although that won’t appeal to everyone, it’s no bad thing if you’ve a fan of his past films (Trainwreck, Bridesmaids).
Apatow has drawn criticism in the past for the depiction of female characters in films like Knocked Up and This Is 40 but with Love, Mickey is arguably far more complex and interesting than Gus.
That said, one of the main niggles from viewers of this show has been pointing out that in reality, Mickey probably wouldn’t have looked twice at Gus. On the surface she’s a carefree cool kid; he on the other hand is a bit of a sheltered nerd.
Well, that might well be true… but don’t we all know a couple who seem so implausible? How did they get together? On paper (or even on screen) it might make absolutely no sense, but there they are. They’re in love. Who are we to argue?
There are beautiful, moving scenes. There are implausible, bizarre scenes that make you feel a bit uncomfortable. There’s everything in between. Like with many relationships, there are lots of bits to like and there are plenty of issues with Love. But trust us, work through the kinks and the kooks. It’s worth it.
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