Judd Apatow makes it easy to love people. He also makes it painfully realistic to hate the ones around you.
In his new Netflix series Love, he channels love and hate with his main characters, and it is a ride worth sitting through.
In perfect Apatowian nature, Love takes place in LA, where we are introduced to Gus Cruikshank, played by Paul Rust (this is not a typo) – who happens to be the writer of the series, as well. You may remember Rust as the dweeb who was in love with Beth Cooper in the movie I Love You Beth Cooper. Rust has not changed much in appearance; he still has the youthful geekiness that is enduring by nature. Gus works for a TV series called Witchita, which is essentially a mockery of all the shitty CW shows that teenagers fall deeply in love with. No, he is not a screenwriter, but instead is the on-set tutor who takes care of Arya (wonderfully played by Iris Apatow), who can barely squeeze in a fifteen-minute lesson. Gus aspires to be one of the top dogs for the set, and day-by-day he snakes his way around the screenwriting world of Witchita. Gus is essentially a hack, someone who looks to become something bigger, but hasn’t got the balls to take a leap of faith. He charms us externally; he’s a nerd, ultra-polite, and seems to be a man-child with good intentions.
Mickey Dobbs (Gillian Jacobs) is the Manic Pixie Dream Girl who got beat up by that shitty city called LA. She is super-hip, relishes being the cool girl, and has this downbeat temperament that is oddly soothing. She hops from one shitty boyfriend to another and the weight of their baggage rests comfortably on her shoulders. What she is finished with is never truly finished. Mickey works for a radio station and does a fairly decent job getting by with life. Mickey presents all her issues from the outside and what is presented to us as viewers is basically a pretty shitty person who is luckily attractive. An odd encounter between Mickey and Gus occurs, and this is Judd Apatow at his best. Unlike his films where he unravels the arcs of his protagonists in a span of two hours, he now has the liberty of a television season to hone what he would like to in his films.
Within the time-frame that television allows, Apatow and Rust make a chronology that allows you to invest in both Gus and Mickey. What you see on the outside is nothing like how they are on the inside. This slow burning effect is perfect for television, where it has the time to unveil each character. By the end of the series, you end up rooting for the character you didn’t several episodes before, whether it was Mickey or Gus. We are allowed to witness each character unveil. This is also the flaw of the show. Due to its length, some moments seem unnecessary and drab and we as viewers witness endless scenes of the highest cringe, but yet this is what makes it so great. Ladies and gentlemen, this is life, none of us are perfect and it is uncannily displayed in Love. The show takes place in a span of a week and it feels like an eternity. Have you experienced weeks where it felt like twenty years have sucked the life out of you? I would hope so because if you haven’t, then you have not lived the life of the millennial/post-millennial generation.
I categorize this show as a Modern Day Rom-Com or (MRC), which is highly prevalent, especially in television. We have shows like Master of None, which in thirty minutes shows the difficulty of dating in the modern age and goes into a deeper level with race; if you aren’t white and you are in the dating game, it’s ten times harder. Aziz tastefully explores the dating sphere and being a minority. We also have FX’s You’re the Worst which sadly has its thunder stolen by It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia. Amongst the three, it is the most sitcom-ish, yet it is incredibly endearing due to the excellent chemistry between Aya Cash and Chris Geere. They are easily the shittiest people in LA, yet you’ll find yourself rooting for them.
Love manages to blend the two respective series’ with an injection of Apatow’s comedic realism. The characters are written with layers like Lena Dunham’s Girls, but neither have the charm or the humor like the HBO series. You can see it as a hindrance, and I see it as a slap in the face. None of us are perfect and yet Love finds a way to let you sit through it and curl into a ball out of disgust, yet you’ll find yourself crawling out because it’s so painfully relatable. None of its greatness would be possible without Rust’s cynical and organic script blended with the perfect casting of Gillian Jacobs. If she doesn’t get any sort of award recognition for her work, it would be an absolute shame. She is ultra dynamic as Mickey, and Paul Rust perfectly unravels her psyche as Gus. Sit through and enjoy it for its honesty and its slimy sense of humor. You’ll learn more about yourself with its unlikable premise. Why? Because it is real.