If you have Netflix, there is a very good chance that you have scrolled by Love and wondered what the deal is with this awkward looking Netflix original series and how it could have possibly received a four star rating. Creator, Judd Apatow, is no stranger to the genre of romantic comedy and the theme of love. He has brought us such films and series as Knocked Up, This is 40, Trainwreck and the cult classic Freaks and Geeks.
The main characters in Love, Gus and Mickey, are both stuck in hopelessly pathetic romantic situations. Gus is a clueless Mid-Westerner who comes off as an awkward yet genuine guy because he enjoys things like magic and writing songs for movies that don’t have a theme song. Mickey is a self-destructive addict who can’t seem to get herself together as she strains every relationship she has throughout the first season.
The show is truly funny and extremely cathartic. Love depicts the most basic and mundane aspects of meeting someone and going through the motions of developing a romantic relationship in the 21st century. Everything from finally receiving a text back from that special person whose number you just got to being put in the friend zone are all experiences that the audience can relate to. The writers also do a fantastic job in subtly adding satire and making these 21st century romantic tropes and the importance we place on them seem so ridiculous. Through the use of humor, the audience is forced to face the absurdity of romance in today’s modern age. For example, when one of Gus’ students (Gus works as a teacher) steals Gus’ phone and sends some “romantic” text messages to Mickey, Gus is immediately horrified and angered with his student. This emotion is completely flipped when he sees the successful results from the messages and then Gus seeks advice from that same student on what to say next to keep the conversation going.
What is truly interesting about Love is that it can be enjoyed on two levels. On one hand it is superficially a dorky rom-com; one can revel in the will-they-won’t-they relationship between the two protagonists while empathizing with the cliche experiences they go through. On the other hand, the show takes a somewhat genuine and unique stance on this over-saturated genre as it discreetly establishes itself as an anti-romantic comedy in its subtext. This trope is hilariously played upon when Gus throws away all of his Blu-Rays, like Pretty Woman, criticizing them for the unrealistic ideology of romance they perpetuate. The overall effect is startling, you can’t explain why you’re enjoying such a simple show and yet the series is obnoxiously addictive.
Another wonderful aspect of the show is the development of Gus and Mickey. On the surface, this show follows the “nice guys get the girl” theme, most notably popularized by Michael Cera. However, Love attacks this formula and as Gus develops, his sincerity is undermined by the realization that he is actually “fake-nice”, a character trait rarely explored in romantic comedy. It’s assumed that her toxicity makes Mickey a character who lacks depth and understanding. However, as Mickey develops we see a deeply sensitive, caring and insightful character who you just want to see finally face her demons and succeed.
Overall, this show balances both pop-culture romantic comedy as well as an insightful critique into the genre and modern romance. Some may find Love drawn out and tedious but if you can get through the first episode, I promise you will enjoy the rest of the series.
- Nicholas Blasiak