Now available on Netflix for viewers are all ten episodes of the first season of ‘Love’, a romantic comedy created by Lesley Arfin, Paul Rust, and famous film maker Judd Apatow. The series stars creator Paul Rust as Gus, and Gillian Jacobs, known for her role as Britta Perry on “Community”, portraying Mickey Dobbs, as they navigate through a very real look at work, relationships, and life. Rife with quirky dialogue, adult humor, and adult situations, ‘Love’ captures the essence of Judd Apatow films like “Knocked Up”, “The 40 Year Old Virgin”, “This is Forty” and “Trainwreck” in series form.
If you have never had a fondness for Apatow’s style of humor you most likely won’t enjoy ‘Love’. Like many of Apatow’s film characters Mickey and Gus in ‘Love’ are miserable people trying to make it through the day. Mickey is a lonely addict who treats everyone around her with disrespect and Gus is a lonely nerd who has no respect for himself. You almost wonder if Apatow and his fellow creators hate people and enjoy bringing out the worst in them. Nearly every decision the characters make are cringe worthy and pathetic.
You begin to feel sorry for Gus but at the same time want to slap him, while Mickey actually makes you hate her and actually cheer when things go bad for her. If this was the intention, then well done Apatow, Rust, and Arfin. If the end goal was to not hate these characters, then there is a lot of work to do in the second season. The character of Gus is overwhelmingly nice which is presented as if being good is a problem, while Mickey is flat out selfish and mean but viewer’s are suppose to excuse her behavior because she’s an addict. In truth there are hardly any respectable characters in ‘Love’ aside from Mickey’s new Australian room Bertie, played by Claudia O’Doherty. Yet her character with the good heart is treated as naive and almost with less intelligence.
Why the show is called ‘Love’ is a little disorienting as the plots of each episode focus more on relationships of work and friendship. Yes Mickey and Gus both have just gotten out of bad relationships and Gus has an obvious attraction to Mickey, but you never really get the reverse feeling. Mickey tends to like Gus but it always comes across as pity or a necessary means being with Gus so she doesn’t have to be alone. It never feels like love. While many work situations are humorous and empathetic, the creators seem to present the evils of Hollywood in a asperous and honest way.
While their characters are frustrating and most of the time unlikable, Gillian Jacobs and Paul Rust are engaging as they commit to their portrayals. Gillian looks like a mess and captures a self loathing addicts actions. She looks miserable, acts angry at the world, and takes no responsibility until it’s too late. Rust garners all the actions and the looks of the nice guy nerd who is actually cool underneath, yet unable to present it. Rust portrays Gus as someone we all know, as either one of our friends, or ourselves. As nice as Gus is Apatow and his fellow writers almost punish the character as if to be happy he has to change everything about him. Iris Apatow is surprisingly refreshing as the stereotypical child actor that Gus tutors, but her wide eyes and innocent face hide the bad attitude and lack of gratitude. Every scene with her is immensely entertaining. Milana Vayntrub as the ex of Gus is entertaining and cute and the stereotypical ex that frustrates you by saying things you don’t want to hear, even if they are true. Vayntrub’s delivery demands more screen time.
Like Apatow’s films ‘Knocked Up’ and ‘So This Is 40’ most of the series ‘Love’ is enjoyable and humerous, if you enjoy watching miserable characters meander through life. The romantic idea of true love doesn’t exist, only the more real truths of having to work at relationships. Yet watching ‘Love’ and Mickey and Gus interact you realize they are too similar to the characters of Debbie and Pete played by Leslie Mann and Paul Rudd. These characters are miserable together and it’s maddening if they stay together. Watching these characters try to have a relationship is heart breaking because the writers have made them so different that they are doomed to fail. That is, unless next years season two has Mickey sober and more fun, but that doesn’t seem likely. While the series features miserable character’s ‘Love’ draws you in like watching a terrible trainwreck that you cannot turn away from. The show is enjoyable and frustrating at the same time, a true work of Apatow art.