Yep, you heard right fellow plebeians. Judd Apatow has applied his serenely honest comedy to a Netflix original series. Suffice it to say, it’s flipping hilarious. With the second season making its way to Netflix in a week, on March 10th, it’s only right we set the stage. This one’s for all the binging enthusiasts out there.

Synopsis: Love follows the journey of two young adults, Gus and Mickey, as they each stumble blindly through one humorous romantic experience after another. One’s that guy whose always trying to get his way unassertively and the other’s that girl who can’t seem to get her life straightened out.

So first off, Gus and Mickey. Both are uncommon names that I haven’t heard for quite some time. I assume that the name choices were intentional. Close your eyes and try to picture Gus. Maybe I’m wrong, but I’m guessing you see a traditionally masculine man instead of the passive-aggressive Gus we see in this story. Mickey might be a harder name to do the same for, but I’m certain the name should carry a level of friendliness and magic that this character neglects to express.

Just as Scott Neustadter’s 500 Days of Summer opens with a warning that it is not a love story, I will welcome you with a remark that Love is very different from what you would expect to see from a series with such a title. Of course with Judd Apatow producing and writing, it can only be expected. My boy Judd has never been one for idealistic relationship portrayals.

The series opens with the bitter end of two relationships. Gus learns that his soon-to-be-ex has cheated on him, so he cuts the cord and moves on. Mickey tires of her man-child boyfriend and lets him go to focus on her future.

Fast forward a month later and we meet our leads as individuals for the first time.

Gus works on a tv show set as a tutor to the child star of Witchita, a supernatural primetime series. For him, it’s nothing more than a means to an end. He works on the set in the hopes of one day delivering his spec script, of one of the show’s episodes, into the hands of one of the writers or the producer.

Mickey works at a radio station as a program manager. Her boss, who fulfills a role on the station’s broadcast as a Dr. Phil type, just exudes scum as he consistently makes creepy attempts at flirting with her. She struggles with alcoholism and selfish narcissism. 

It isn’t until the closing moments of the first episode that the two lead characters, Gus and Mickey, cross paths with one another. Once they cross paths, their fates are forever changed, immediately even. Now as you read this, a part of you might imagine them immediately falling in love or patiently tending to obvious embers of passion between them in a tacky fashion. Disregard that notion right now and don’t be too hard on yourself. It’s only natural that we would jump to this conclusion because we have been conditioned to by the formulaic Hollywood depictions we’ve been accustomed to year after year.

The first half of the series plays their relationship very subtly. This is part of the magic of the series, the realistic nature of how many relationships naturally unfold. Gus develops a crush on Mickey and attempts to pursue her while playing it cool. Mickey’s messages are a little on the unclear side, but only because she’s too emotionally preoccupied to notice Gus’s feelings for her or care about them. At first, there’s a potential tension between the two. Fortunately, it’s presented as it occurs in reality, as very uncertain and possibly misread. Meanwhile, Mickey’s life is weighed down by the failures of her past relationships and the errors of her ways.

The second half of the series is when their relationship turns into something much more romantic. After going on a mutually uninterested date with Mickey’s roommate, under Mickey’s recommendation, Gus expresses his feelings for Mickey. So it begins. Their relationship is sweet initially, but also adequately downplayed. Their romantic relationship gets off to a rocky start and begs the question, Are they better as friends? While Gus is attracted to Mickey, they hardly fit with one another.

After their first date, everything flips on its head. What I appreciate most about this point of the show is that even though they aren’t a match made in heaven, capable of cursing even the goddess of love with envy, their dynamic and how we see them as individual characters changes. Also, their relationship is a realistic mess of budding romantic interests instead of the immediately committed, stable alternative.

Of course I’d be remiss if I went without mentioning Andy Dick showing up for a brief spell playing himself. Now say what you may about abusing “star power,” but Andy Dick always makes everything better.

Although Gus maintains a passive-aggressive nature throughout the entire duration of the first season, after the halfway point of the season we see him irritated more often with Mickey’s personality flaws. Meanwhile, Mickey instills in him a confidence that everyone around him starts to notice and he uses it to his advantage. Their relationship withers and takes a back seat to Gus’s rising popularity on the Hollywood set. He begins to make a difference on set and even manages to sell his spec script to the show’s writers.

Mickey’s life grows exponentially worse. She becomes more interested in Gus and their roles switch completely. She loses the confidence she originally showcased and gets pretty hung up on the lad. She even falls victim to the dreaded menace that is Facebook stalking. In other words, she peruses his Facebook feed and pictures, bursting into tears over moments she remembers as much happier than they actually were. 

Gus and confidence are a great match at some points, a poor pairing at others. He starts acting like a world-class douche towards Mickey and their awkward relationship, made all the worse by his passive-aggressive demeanor. A female star on set attracts his attention and she quickly takes Mickey’s spot. The whole series of unfolding events make the show engaging and challenging not to binge. Every interaction between the lead characters and the people around them makes you just want to know what happens next or what will come of it.

Mickey and Gus’s relationship goes out with a bang, much more violently than it began… or so it seems. They go their separate ways until coincidentally reuniting right before the allegorical bell rings.

So, they ended up together after all, a statement that I feel accurately depicts a good portion of the relationships I see in reality.

For so long, stories revolving around romance have been focused on love at first sight or puppy love. Now don’t get me wrong. I never tire of these tales because there is something refreshing about most of them. Still, I readily embrace the appearance of a story that presents relationships as otherwise. I’m immensely poised for the second season and by that, I mean I’ll post myself in front of the tv for a day. My only grievance is not having more to consume once the next season ends.

Are you a comrade in the trenches of Netflix’s Love? Do you likewise praise Netflix’s prowess for developing addicting originals? Make it known. Got anything else to say? Make sure to leave a comment below, we’d love to hear it.

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