The age-old tale of love and heartbreak is one that has existed since the dawn of man, and we all have our own little stories to tell about it. Maybe you had a really awkward date that resulted in you crawling out the restaurant bathroom window. Perhaps your date never showed up, and you ended up sitting at home eating Ben and Jerry’s till 4 in the morning. Whatever your story may be, co-creator Judd Apatow aims to make your love life seem like a story book romance when comparing yourself to the lives of Love‘s main characters, Mickey and Gus.
Love is a new Netflix exclusive romantic dramedy series created by Judd Apatow, Paul Rust, and Lesley Arfin. Gus (Paul Rust) is a shy tutor working on the set of the television series Witchita, helping its young cast members get a proper education. Mickey (Gillian Jacobs) is a recovering alcoholic working at a local self-help radio station, who just so happens to need a big batch of self-help herself. When the two cross paths at a local mini mart, they begin to form an unlikely friendship acting reckless and getting stoned with one another. However, the two fail to realize just how much their lives are about to change with their chance encounter, and will be first hand witnesses of the ups and downs of modern-day love life.
One thing that Judd Apatow has been fairly great at throughout his career is creating real characters in his pieces. They aren’t just hollow shells you can follow for a half hour and forget just as quickly, Apatow’s protagonists feel absolutely genuine, for better or for worse. This has never been more apparent than in his new television series. Gus and Mickey truly do feel like authentic people with real world problems that just about anyone might face in their own day-to-day lives. Neither is 100% likable to fault or 100% distasteful, they just try to balance themselves somewhere in the middle like any regular person would, and it works so well here. Sometimes, Gus is a pathetic punching bag that you desperately want to grow a spine, but you find yourself rallying behind him because Gus feels like a genuinely good person in the end. Mickey is the definition of reckless and irresponsible, but you understand her better through her personal highs and lows. To sum it up, they aren’t cardboard cutouts plastered into a bland romance series, these are deep characters being thrown about like rag-dolls in this world we call Earth. This is the kind of romance story people should be getting obsessed with nowadays, not this gunk we keep getting like The Choice or Fifty Shades of Grey.
Due to such great drama being used in Love, lead actors Paul Rust and Gillian Jacobs are able to create such a fantastic on-screen chemistry between one another. Every time Gus and Mickey manage to take time to be together, it easily makes for the best episodes of the first season. You wouldn’t expect these clashing personalities to work so well with one another, especially in a romantic dramedy dealing with alcoholism, cheating partners and rampant drug abuse, but believe me when I say that Mickey and Gus are easily one of modern-day television’s most relatable pairs, and many will be begging for the creators to just get them together through everything the world throws their way. Not to mention, we additionally get a good amount of comedy to back up the great story behind these two. As stated before, Rust and Jacobs work so well as an on-screen duo, that every joke that arises from their screw ups together is both very funny and very sympathetic.
On the other hand, this also leads to one of the first season’s few drawbacks. When Gus and Mickey aren’t together having adventures with one another, things just aren’t running at optimum efficiency. While Mickey’s roommate Bertie (Claudia O’Doherty) brings plenty of laughs to the story, both Gus and Mickey’s other friends just don’t carry nearly as much weight. There is some great drama that stems from their involvement, but it would have been nicer to see Mickey and Gus just spend a little more time together, as opposed to their background group of friends we don’t care nearly as much about. Considering this, the ending of this ten episode season does come off as bit of a mixed bag, over-stuffing itself with unnecessary storylines and then rushing towards a bit of a forced conclusion when things gets rough between our leads. Admittedly, you’ll still be excited for a second season and what may lie ahead for the characters, but how Mickey and Gus’ stories end up tying to one another, in the final episode anyway, feels more like a step back in their character development than a step forward.
Nevertheless, Love presents itself as an empathetic drama first and foremost, with some good comedy to throw into the mix. If you’re looking for some kind of feel good bubbly romance story to watch next Valentine’s Day, this really isn’t going to be for you. Love is all about those raw, graceless moments we have in trying to form a relationship with new people, the moments we try to forget about as quickly as possible. Yet, Judd Apatow and everyone else behind this piece have embraced the ample quirks of lust and sexuality, making Love another great Netflix piece for many to enjoy with their loved ones.