Browse Josh's Portfolio and the Comic, Reviews or Blog archive.

Josh Suffers Through Netflix’s Love

Love is a ten-episode Netflix show created by Judd Apatow, Paul Rust & Lesley Arfin.  The show chronicles the slow steps along the way of two single people, Gus (Paul Rust) and Mickey (Gillian Jacobs), as the find their way into a relationship with one another.

I was interested in watching Love because of the involvement of Judd Apatow.  I started watching Freaks and Geeks back when the pilot originally aired, and I was immediately hooked on Judd Apatow and Paul Feig’s gloriously unique, funny and heartbreaking creation.  I have been a huge fan ever since of pretty much every person who was in front of and behind the camera on Freaks and Geeks.  I eagerly followed Judd Apatow to his next TV show, the equally great (and, sadly, equally unsuccessful) show Undeclared.  When Mr. Apatow found big-screen success, I was thrilled, and I have enjoyed all of his films.  I adore The 40 Year Old Virgin, and even Mr. Apatow’s lesser big-screen works such as Funny People and This is Forty have given me a lot of enjoyment.  When I read that Mr. Apatow would be returning to TV a few years ago, producing HBO’s Girls, I was excited, though I quickly discovered that I did not really enjoy that particular show.  I stuck with Girls through its first three seasons before giving up.  I respect it as a well-made and unique piece of work, but I ultimately found all the characters to be so unlikable that I found watching the show to be a chore.

When I read that Mr. Apatow would also be producing a new Netflix show, Love, I was again excited.  Unfortunately, I feel about Love very similarly to the way I felt about Girls.  I hugely respect it as a well-made show, and it’s great to see such a specific, idiosyncratic voice brought to life on TV.  It’s clear that with both Girls and Love, Mr. Apatow is allowing his co-creators’ unique voices to shine through.  (With Girls, that would be Lena Dunham and Jennifer Konner, while here in Love it’s the married pair of Paul Rust — who also stars as Gus — and Lesley Arfin.)  It’s great to see these new, unique voices.  Sadly, it’s just that I don’t find myself enjoying either of these shows.

Freaks and Geeks was painful and awkward, but I adored each and every one of the characters, and so I could go along for the ride even when it was painful.  And the show was often able to be hugely, fall on the floor funny.  I can’t say that either of those things are true of Love.  There were a few big laughs, for sure, but those moments were few and far between in these ten episodes.  And while I respect the show for giving us a warts-and-all portrayal of the two very flawed, very human lead characters, Mickey and Gus, after a few episodes I found them both to be so unlikable that I had a hard time investing in the show and the arc of their relationship.  By about six or seven episodes in, I found the experience of watching the show to be almost painful, and it was only the completist in me that drove me to plow through and finish the season.

What I enjoyed the most about the show was the clever nature of it’s very detailed, almost minute-by-minute look at the slow arc of Gus and Mickey’s beginning a relationship.  What most other shows might have covered in their first episode, Love zooms in on to slowly allow to unfold over the course of this entire first season of episodes.  That’s a very interesting, very unique approach, and I really love that idea.

Both Paul Rust and Gillian Jacobs do strong work as the two leads.  And the show has a strong array of supporting players.  Brett Gelman is a hoot as Mickey’s somewhat unhinged boss Dr. Greg, the host of a psychiatric radio show.  I enjoyed all the the bizarre friends Gus gets to know from his apartment building, a group that includes Freaks and Geeks vets Dave (Gruber) Allen and Steve Bannos, and also Charlyne Yi.  I also enjoyed seeing Judd Apatow’s daughter Iris Allen as the pampered TV child-star for whom Gus works as a tutor.  Andy Dick appears playing himself as a guest-star in episode six, “Andy,” and he’s a lot of fun.  Probably my favorite stand-out in the cast was Claudia O’Doherty as Bertie, Mickey’s put-upon but consistently cheerful Australian apartment-mate.  (Bertie featured heavily in my favorite sequence from the whole season, her catastrophic date with Gus in which they both decide to do everything they can to tank the date.)

Another highlight of the show for me were the scenes with Gus and his friends as they hang out and attempt to compose their own theme songs for movies like Carlito’s Way and The Perfect Storm.  Those scenes were very clever, and gently funny as we got to enjoy the silly banter between Gus and his friends.  I liked the tone of those scenes — even when things got tense late in the season when Gus accidentally invited two paramours to his hang-out — and I wish that tone had carried over more of the show.

Overall, this wasn’t a show for me.  It just didn’t speak to me at all.  I’m glad to have seen it and I applaud Mr. Rust, Ms. Arfin, and Mr. Apatow in creating a unique new show, but I don’t expect to continue as a viewer should they move forward with a second season.

(If you enjoyed this show more than I did, please allow me to direct you to this wonderfully in-depth interview with Love’s stars Paul Rust and Gillian Jacobs, conducted by Hitfix’s Alan Sepinwall.)

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someone