A Netflix Original Series with a male lead working in the entertainment industry fumbling through relationships — sounds eerily familiar, right?
The release of Netflix’s “Love” comes on the heals of Aziz Ansari’s critically-acclaimed Netflix Original Series, “Master of None.”
“Love,” produced by Judd Apatow (“This is 40”), stars Gillian Jacobs (“Community”) as Mickey and Paul Rust (“Comedy Bang! Bang!”) as Gus. The two 30-somethings flail and flounder in their own lives and are eventually brought together — kind of — by a chance occurrence.
The Netflix Original Series departs from Apatow’s generally optimistic, albeit gritty, perspective on love and relationships and presents something darker. What it may lack in timing and character likability “Love” compensates for in the way it turns common romantic comedy tropes on their head — and that it finally does capture your attention.
The comedic relief of the show is Mickey’s new roommate, Bertie, played by Claudia O’Doherty (“Trainwreck“). When she first appears, Bertie seems like a flat, one-dimensional character possibly used to provide moral compass. However, Bertie proves to be crucial to the show’s, sometimes compromised, comedic rhythm.
When films and television series address the aging of a “wild party girl,” the struggle of addiction seems like a natural direction. However, rarely is a character introduced smack-dab in the middle of a rocky period of relapse and recovery. Jacobs is able to cover more emotional terrain in this role than audiences have seen from her in shows like “Community,” and she does so with skill.
Of course, audiences also get a taste of the bitter side of Mickey. Mickey lacks self-control, makes reckless and selfish decisions and, the most cutting realization of the show, is that she is fully aware of this. Jacob’s character is constantly self-deprecating and making destructive decisions — putting her deep insecurity on full display.
Mickey is almost unlikable, and that is where the show succeeds. “Love” presents two characters so unlikable that they are incredibly relatable. Rust’s character also walks this delicate line. Gus should be the lovable nerd but is instead not particularly good at his job: his “fake movie title theme nights” are cringe-worthily pretentious, and he can be a jerk to women.
Gus’s ex-girlfriend may actually be right — Gus is not really nice, he is just “fake nice.” “Love” struggles to find its direction, but once it does it delivers moments that are new and genuine with some humor along the way.
All ten episodes of “Love” are available to stream on Netflix, and season two will premiere in 2017.