Judd Apatow’s indie comedy series ‘Love’ has recently returned for its second series on Netflix. The show’s premise is the portrayal of a ‘real’ relationship between two individuals, Mickey and Gus, set against the backdrop of Hollywood’s big city LA. The first season demonstrated the pitfalls and the agonising ‘love’ games and questions that Apatow’s audience is all too familiar with: the struggles we all face with modern day relationships. Does he really like me? Are we exclusive because we hooked up twice? Why hasn’t he text me? When is it too soon for me to get back in the game after the ending of a relationship? This seemingly basic premise succeeded in creating a show that was at times, brutally honest and refused to apologise for the portrayal of the crap that we call a relationship in the 21st century.
The show’s protagonists, Mickey and Gus, were both inevitably flawed. Mickey, an individual with a string of addictions (see alcoholic, drug addict, sex and love addict), played by the quirky Gillian Jacobs, is a woman trying to find herself along with navigating the modern dating game. She is funny, gorgeous and unapologetically sarcastic and cynical. Gus on the other hand, played by Paul Rust, is a lovesick guy who appears to be more invested in the idea of love as opposed to the realities that come with relationships. For the first season, both of these characters were pleasantly honest and relatable. As an audience you found yourself rooting for the couple in one episode before wishing that they hadn’t even met in another. The crap that they put each other through along with the hilarity that came with their pitfalls was a breath of fresh air and successfully created a series that stood out from the conventional pattern that rom-com’s follow.
Series two, however, disappointingly did not live up to the expectations of the first season. What was previously considered funny and quirky was now overused and appeared to try too hard to be eccentric and individual. Moments in the last series that seemed organic and relatable now appeared forced as if Apatow had written in comedic moments in order to purposely attain laughs. Moments such as Gus leaving Mickey after spending the night with her and farting outrageously did not appear to ‘fit’ and instead become construed as awkward and begging for laughs.
What worked about season one likewise, was the reliability of the characters. Neither Mickey or Gus were perfect (far from it) but this was their signature appeal. Mickey, in particular, was incredibly flawed and complicated but as Gus summed up ‘She’s so complicated and that’s what I like about her. One day I think I understand her and the next day she does something else to surprise me.’ Season two, however, saw Mickey behaving in a way which no longer appeared interesting or attractive but just reckless and self- destructive. The flaws that the audience had grown to love have disappeared and instead, she appears simply selfish, egotistical and at times, frustrating. Likewise, Gus, who in season one demonstrated the extent to which the ‘good guy’ is also extremely flawed, in season two was simply annoying. The appeal of him in season one was the way in which he made mistakes and behaved badly but he had good intentions. This season saw his ‘good intentions’ come across as clingy and irritating and dominate his character. The term ‘love sick’ puppy springs to mind. I am aware that the premise of this show was to demonstrate a ‘real’ relationship between two ‘real’ people but ultimately they no longer appeared ‘real’ but simply caricatures of a conventional ‘bad’ relationship. The surprising redeeming characters of this season, however, were Mickey’s roommate Bernie and her on again, off again, boyfriend Randy. Bernie as the conventional dippy roommate is funny, sweet and has the best intentions, which are seriously misconstrued at times. Her relationship with Randy which every girl I’m sure can relate to (the two break up and continue to sleep together even though she is fully aware that he is wasting her time) is exactly what made the first season so enjoyable and relatable. She provides the comic relief that worked so well in season one and I found myself wishing her relationship had more screen time.
Finally, the ending is something, which I must address. And SPOILER ALERT, the ending of the series is extremely unsatisfying. Season one saw Mickey attempting to take time out to ‘fix’ herself but ending up continuing to date, Gus. The season two finale sees the two of them finally agreeing to be in a relationship after Mickey has slept with someone else whilst Gus is away. Every single part of me was against the resolution of this series. The couple that you once rooted for has now become quite toxic and unhealthy for one another and for them to end up together perhaps sums up the ideas of modern dating: this person is bad for me and I for them, but I would much rather be in a relationship than on my own.