Fear not skeptics! ‘Love’ is certainly not a typical formulaic rom-com featuring an archetypal slate of trite exaggerations and absurdly implausible “feel good” stories about romantic companionship…or is it?
Judd Apatow, Lesley Arfin and company do a masterful job of introducing and defining their characters by placing them in impossibly whack situations. While the characters are easy to relate to they can be far from likable for much of the series. The real joy for viewers is watching the train derail over and over. If you’ve recently had an ugly break up, failed relationship, or are simply stuck in the echoes of loneliness this show is a heaping helping of schadenfreude!
You may remember leading lady Gillian Jacobs from her stint on ‘Community’ which ran for six seasons on NBC with relative success. If you enjoyed her performance as Britta you’re in for a pleasant surprise as she puts in an intensely incredible performance as Mickey Dobbs. She nails her role as a typical Jersey Girl – turned – California burn out. I hail from the great state of NJ and you can take it from me that Mickey Dobbs is barely fictional. I know ten different versions of Mickey in real life although few of them made it as far as the golden coast. Much like many of us this character doesn’t know if she wants to be a sweetheart rebel or a mean spirited loner. She is a walking juxtaposition as her outer beauty is fully countered by her inner turmoil. We’ve seen the “good guy saves flawed girl” story line a million times but that’s where we get the big swerve that makes ‘Love’ an honest deviation from the norm.
Enter co-creator Paul Rust and his character Gus Cruikshank. For much of the first season of this series Gus fits the typical “good guy geek” role. He wears thick black glasses, has a massive schnoz, and is so socially awkward it’s painful to watch. *Yawn* But wait…what’s this? He has major character flaws that have resulted in failed relationships and heartbreak. He’s not an injured baby bird who will be nursed back to health by a physically perfect female? Veering off the path of the rom-com trash heap becomes an every-episode quality for this show and it’s as refreshing as it’s entertaining.
When you factor in hysterical supporting performances by Comedy Bang! Bang! alumni Claudia O’Doherty as Mickey’s roommate and Brett Gelman as Dr. Greg Coulter this show is loaded with talent. Special shout out to Kyle Kinane who plays Mickey’s drug addict ex-boyfriend and literally left me in tears each time he graced the screen. I’d also be foolish not to mention Iris Apatow (Judd’s daughter) who fleshes out a fairly complex performance as mega-child-star Arya who just so happens to be tutored by Gus on the set of her smash hit TV show.
There are believable plot payoffs and a roller coaster of triumphs and disasters. The comedy value of this show is top notch. There are multiple laugh-out-loud moments in each episode. There is an “inside joke” quality that makes it feel familiar and the excellent writing makes sure they don’t succumb to the typical pit falls and tropes that define most shows and movies in this genre.