Love (Season 2)
Cast - Paul Rust, Gillian Jacobs
Rating - 3.5/5
Essentially, Love is about that magical, mysterious phase of a relationship in which no one has any idea where it’s going or what’s going to happen. 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.
By the tenth episode, they become your friends. You want to live with them in their sunny Los Angeles apartments and work on trashy TV shows and radio programmes. 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.
One year has passed since I wrote these words in my review of the first season of Netflix’s Love. It’s quite clear, especially having re-read these passages, that it was a show that had made an impact. And yes, in that moment at the dingy gas station, surrounded by noisy cars and toxic fumes, you wanted nothing for these characters than for them to put everything aside – logic, common sense, rules – and just go for it.
But things have changed.
The show’s second season picks up only moments later, in the same fluorescent gas station, this time with more impatient honking and more awkwardness. Over the course of next 12 episodes, just as messy and just as emotionally raw as season 1, Love confirms that dreadful truth: Like every relationship entering a new chapter, chances are that the person you end up with is rarely ever the same person you fell for.
This is not the show we signed up for a year ago. The characters have evolved (barely), but more importantly, so have we. What began as an airy romantic comedy in season 1, a refreshingly honest take on modern romance, has in its second season, unexpectedly become a drama.
But despite what your instincts would have you believe, this doesn’t always have to mean bad news. Often, as you get to know a person better, when they take the form of real people as opposed to the ‘type’ you initially fell for, they could surprise you in strange ways. What might have at first seemed like nothing more than a brief flirtation could turn out to be something more meaningful.
And as unique and radical as Love was in its first season, it was, after all, a ‘type’: Aimless 20-somethings bumping into each other as their lives collide with their dreams.
But, never one to settle, it was always aching to break out of these moulds. And in season 2, it continues to challenge Mickey and Gus. At a time in their relationship when they should be spending every waking moment in each other’s company (remember, they’re still only a month old), the show makes the bold choice of pulling them apart. Not only does this make for good conflict, it also brings out their frailties and exhumes the despicable versions of their personalities that they would much rather remain buried.
Especially Mickey, who is sent down some truly controversial paths this season. She’d conveniently blame it all on her various addictions, and correct you when you understandably fail to keep track of them all, but here’s the thing – and I believe the show knows this – it’s all just an excuse. She’s convinced herself that she’s damaged goods, and the series of bad decisions that she makes this season bring her dangerously close to losing our sympathies, which are meant to be with Gus anyway. But this is the show doing what it does best: Being honest. Chances are we all know someone like Mickey, immature yet otherworldly, cranky yet confident. Heck, chances are, we’ve been that person.
And for all this, we should probably thank the woman who broke creator and star Paul Rust’s heart, because like (500) Days of Summer, and La La Land, Love is very much written from the perspective of the jilted male. That being said, let us pray that Mickey never teams up with Zoe Deschanel’s Summer and Emma Stone’s Mia to form some sort of soul-crushing trio of evilness.
While season 1 was about discovery, season 2, reluctant as it comprehends the tricky concept of ‘adulting’, is about the consequences of those discoveries.
This time, it’s about deciding how involved you want to be in her life and when to step back, even when you ache, with every fibre of your being, to know who she’s texting with at night. It’s about wanting to Skype only at a time of your choosing, and not when it is most convenient, and then, when it doesn’t work out, resorting to a yelling match instead. But it’s also about accepting her flaws, and hoping that when the time comes, she accepts yours with less resistance.
A year has passed, and life isn’t as effortless as it used to be, but you still really, really, really want it to work out for Mickey and Gus. Even if it destroys them.