“You say I love you too much,” protests Paul Rust’s Gus, mid break up, to his girlfriend, who has just made him aware of her infidelities. It’s his fault of course. He is, in her words, ‘fake nice’. Meanwhile, across town, Gillain Jacobs’ Mickey, enraged, has just followed her man-child boyfriend out onto the street. Five minutes ago they were in bed. Now, he wants to go clothes shopping with his mom, and she’s yelling at the both of them in her underwear. As both relationships meet their bittersweet end, Netflix’s new romantic comedy series Love, begins.
After the quirky insights of Aziz Ansari’s Master of None, Netflix gives you another present. But this time, the package is hastily wrapped and torn. Not because the show’s no good, in fact it may even be better. But be warned, this time there’s no fluff. There’s no bright ribbon and there’s no honkytonk ringtone. It’s a good, hard look at the realities of the modern world, and the (usually) unsuccessful attempts of its natives to find - you guessed it - love. Front and centre are Paul Rust and Gillian Jacobs, playing out the oldest trope in all of television: Will they, won’t they.
Yup, we’ve seen it all a million times before. And we know how it’s all going to end. But let’s stop looking at it dismissively. There’s a reason why they revisit this dynamic time and time again. The problem isn’t the worn out premise, because like a relationship gasping its last, it’s the lack of mystery that’s the real pest. And that’s exactly where Love succeeds. It adds some spice to our relationship with romantic comedies, and in its ten emotionally and tonally rambunctious episodes, reminds us why we started going out in the first place.
Gus and Mickey couldn’t be more different: She’s the quintessential life of every party, if she even decides to grace them with her presence in the first place, that is. And he’s the nerd, his love for magic an open secret, obsessed with movies and their Blu-Ray special features (Phew, I thought I was the only one). But a break up can’t tell prom queens from geeks, because after those breathless opening scenes, one thing connects them: They’ve both been left behind. Of course they’re meant for each other. But it’s still the first episode, and make no mistake, Love will arrive at its destination, but like all those travellers more concerned with the journey, it takes the scenic route. It takes longer and isn’t the most efficient way to go about things, but who’s complaining?
Like co-creator Judd Apatow’s movies, Love – ummmm – loves spending time with its characters. They’re real people, with real problems and real flaws. Their friends aren’t caricatures, but, like them, they’re living and breathing people with their own messy lives.
Watch the trailer here
Paul Rust, despite his best protests, really does come off as a young Woody Allen, and not only because of their physical resemblance. Like a young Woody, Rust has written himself as a neurotic nerd, but with stud-like superpowers with the ladies. It’s the most overt wish-fulfillment fantasy. But it’s Gillian Jacobs, known for her adorable klutz Britta Perry on Community, who steals the show. Her character Mickey, is a raw, self-destructive mess just as prone to long eulogies of Uber as she is to attending cult meetings high on Ambien.
Essentially, the whole show is about that magical, mysterious phase of a relationship where no one has any idea where it’s going or what’s going to happen. Once again, it’s all about the journey. It’s about the hesitation of that first text, and the uneasy anticipation of a reply once you’ve summoned the courage to send draft no. 53. It’s about the voices that scream out ‘no!’ before you decide to reveal embarrassing secrets about yourself. It’s about the awkwardness of the first date, and the pressure of topping it with the second. It’s about projecting the best aspects of your personality, and quickly thinking of excuses once the jig is up and your flaws can’t be kept hidden anymore. It’s about putting yourself in a food coma when things don’t work out. But more than any of that, it’s about how none of it really matters, because that’s the first sign you’ve found ‘the one.’
By the tenth time that theme song begins, you already start missing these characters. They’ve become your friends. You want to live with them in their sunny Los Angeles apartments and work on crappy TV shows and radio programs. You want to take never-ending rides on the subway and pretend to like fancy restaurants. You really, really, really want it to work out for Gus and Mickey.
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The author tweets @NaaharRohan