Love on Netflix: original, endearing, but troubled

love-posterOver the course of two evenings and one morning I watched all 10 episodes of the latest Judd Apatow project, Love, on Netflix.

The series follows Mickey (Gillian Jacobs) and Gus (Paul Rust) as their separate lives suddenly converge with a bizarre supermarket meet cute. But this is certainly no conventional romance, and it takes a long time to even get many scenes with the central pair together: first they both have some ex stuff to figure out, stressful jobs on talk radio and as a tutor on a TV show set respectively, and she even sets him up with her roommate. But eventually things get going.

The way the story is told, leading up to the duo’s first meeting before they gradually converge more and more, is possibly the best thing about the show. It never feels just like a love story and is remarkably clean of cliches. That said, it does feel like it could have been a little more polished and as if the crew had to rush to get it out. The dialogue is usually the best thing about Apatow’s work but here it is sometimes stilted at best.

Another issue I had was that Gus is just so awful. Mickey is a bad person a lot of the time but it is explained four episodes in that she is an addict, struggling with drink and drugs. This informs much of her story and our understanding of the character. Of course, it helps that Jacob is a fantastic actress who flickers here between over-confident and vulnerable with a particular sensitivity.

On the other hand, Gus is billed by himself, his colleagues and his friends as a loveable dork- and often he is. But other times he is just a complete jerk out of nowhere. He explodes at the end of the series and absolutely nothing built up to it. And seriously- a wannabe writer who works on a TV set doesn’t understand how collaborative the writing process for an episode is? As if.

Fear not- I still think Rust’s acting is great, stammering away or shouting so fearsomely that it’s uncomfortable to watch. I just wish he had a better character curve to work with.

The best scene is undoubtedly Gus jamming Jet by Paul McCartney and Wings at a party while Mickey slowly freaks out then gets into a huge fight with not one but two of her exes just outside. One of these components alone would have been excellent, but to me the whole scene epitomises the best of the show, its writing and its direction.

One of Bertie’s scene-stealing moments can’t be far behind in the rankings though. I loved Mickey’s quirky Australian roommate- and the burly guy she bonds with at a party. Hopefully I’m not the only one.

In conclusion: Love has intriguing ideas, funny and serious bits, it’s not too cliched- I just hope the success of the first series means the second can receive even more TLC and give us what we need from Gus.

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