TV Review: Love

Monday 4 April 2016 by

Netflix, Love, Judd Apatow, Claudia O'Doherty, Gillian Jacobs, Paul Rust

Signed for two seasons before even making its debut, Love is the Netflix series that is slowly becoming a hit. Love tells the story of Mickey (Gillian Jacobs) and Gus (Paul Rust) and their seemingly hopeless quests to find romance.

Written by Judd Apatow, you’re probably only going to like this if you enjoy the dark humour and cringe-worthy Girls. In fact, be prepared to cringe a lot with this because it seems like Mickey and Gus are experts at finding themselves in increasingly uncomfortable situations and like to make it worse. But it’s also charming and somehow gets under your skin.

Mickey works for a radio show and has a fantastic ability to self-sabotage, but is also more than willing to take down everyone around her at the same time. But underneath the vicious self-destructive, don’t-care attitude is a vulnerability that Jacobs brings to the role perfectly. She is insecure and desperate for a meet-cute of her own. She seeks relationships before she is prepared to deal with them, and constantly compares her life to that of the skewed portrayal in films (they are in LA, after all).

Gus on the other hand is a gawky, passive-aggressive tutor for a TV show. His quest for love is less like a heat-seeking missile, and more with an increasing desperation of someone needing to validate against another. Unfortunately, this inherent romanticism means that when he and Mickey meet, you know things are going to get awkward.

Jacobs and Rust together are in fact delightfully charming. The affection and the humiliation blend in a way that you know these two are doomed from the very beginning, but also makes you root for them (perhaps for Gus a little more than Mickey). This excruciating tendency is either going to be to your taste or not – but the humour is what gets you through. Apatow is an artist when it comes to balancing the uncomfortable with the hilarious, turning toe-curling scenes in to darkly comic riffs.

The only problem is, this doesn’t all turn out for the best – damaged people don’t find the cure in another, love isn’t the key, and meet-cutes are not a thing. So what? That’s more like real life than any of the romance films coming out of LA. And that’s part of the joy of this show – it isn’t even subtle about poking fun at the tropes and expectations. It even uses LA as an extra character in the relationship instead of just a backdrop (although as a Brit who’s never been to LA, perhaps some of the references are lost on me).

This is a blend between a sweet romantic comedy and a sharp satire on the reality of relationships. It will definitely not be for everyone, but there is something charming about it nonetheless. You will never be entirely sure what keeps you watching for the full 10 episodes – especially when Mickey’s bull-in-a-china-shop routine hits peak destruction – but before you know it, you’re six episodes in and starting to find Gus’ neediness a charming quirk rather than an uncomfortable affectation. The cast as a whole lends themselves to drawing you in; in particular, Mickey’s endlessly upbeat housemate, Bertie (Claudia O’Doherty) is pure delight and turns anything that threatens to be too ghastly in to something that leans more towards offbeat humour. Aside from Jacobs and Rust, it’s O’Doherty’s Aussie charm that keeps you coming back for more.

Love is more of an anti-hero story than a romance, and for that it makes it all the more enjoyable. Who wants another misty-eyed romance story anyway? Forget the meet-cute, I’m all for the meet-ugly.

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