TV Review: ‘Love’

Love TV Review Netflix
Courtesy of Netflix

Judd Apatow’s movies tend to run rather long for romantic comedies, but that pales next to the canvas that’s available on “Love,” a 10-part Netflix series that follows the slow-gestating relationship between Gus and Mickey, as well as the assorted oddballs that surround them. Highly specific to L.A., for good and ill, the show revolves around frequently irritating protagonists that will present a challenge to viewers’ rooting interest, but there are enough moments of sheer awkwardness and bawdy humor to make this a series a core audience should be able to like, if not, you know, love.

The first episode of the show, co-created by Apatow, Lesley Arfin and series star Paul Rust, introduces Rust’s Gus, an on-set tutor for the bratty 12-year-old star of a TV series, as he discovers his girlfriend has been cheating on him. Their subsequent breakup lands him in a temporary-living complex known as the Springwood, as played by Los Angeles’ post-divorce conclave, the Oakwood Apartments. (The child actor is portrayed by Apatow’s daughter, Iris, further bringing a slightly meta quality to its Hollywood commentary.)

Elsewhere, Mickey (Gillian Jacobs) — who works at a satellite radio station — is ending her own toxic relationship, building toward a not-so-cute meeting. The two forge an unlikely friendship that slowly grows into something more.

Inevitably, there are countless missteps and pitfalls along the way, including her decision to try fixing him up with her slightly daft roommate (Australian comic Claudia O’Doherty), which goes disastrously (and pretty hilariously) wrong, to the point where the two are simultaneously texting her about how terrible it is.

With his halting, over-sharing, slightly nerdy manner, Rust can’t help but evoke thoughts of a young Woody Allen (even though Gus at one point specifically says the two aren’t alike), but at his core, he’s generally a nice guy. And that spurs discomfort in Mickey, who walks around with a perpetual chip on her shoulder, harbors inner demons, and is generally attracted to people who aren’t especially good for her. This prompts her to treat him lousy enough to produce what in romantic comedy terms would be the obligatory third-act crisis, which here includes the distracting presence of an actress on Gus’ show (“Ground Floor’s” Briga Heelan), who’s really nice because she’s, well, Canadian.

As the title suggests, this is all a long, slow-motion deconstruction of how a relationship can evolve, with a lot of setbacks and detours, and a strong sense of L.A. as a backdrop. Not surprisingly, that template (in which most episodes exceed 30 minutes) yields a certain hit-miss quality, from the highlight bad-date episode, and Gus and his pals writing theme songs for movies that don’t have them, to a pointless guest shot involving Andy Dick, the L.A. Metro and a couple tablets of Ecstasy.

The series is particularly well cast around the fringes, including Brett Gelman as Mickey’s boss — who dispenses on-air relationship advice — and Tracie Thomas as the prickly executive producer of the show on which Gus is working. Naturally, Gus has written a spec script, and in a later episode there’s an extended peek into the writers room that will likely resonate more within a 20-mile radius of the Hollywood sign than beyond it.

Ultimately, though, the focus on Gus and Mickey — joining a growing list of comedies about self-obsessed urban characters at different stages of the life/relationship spectrum, from “You’re the Worst” to HBO’s “Togetherness” and its Apatow-produced companion “Girls” — blunts “Love’s” appeal, leaving a show defined more by moments than by its overarching plot.

Put another way, while it was easy enough, and mildly enjoyable, to binge through the 10 episodes (all of which were made available), having now seen this extended introduction to their story, it would be hard to muster much enthusiasm for devoting another two hours — much less five — to see where this modern tale of “When Gus Met Mickey” goes from here.

TV Review: 'Love'

(Series; Netflix, Fri. Feb. 19)

Production

Filmed in Los Angeles by Apatow Prods., Don’t Ask Arfin and Rust’s Western Shed in association with Legendary Television.

Crew

Executive producers, Judd Apatow, Paul Rust, Lesley Arfin, Brent Forrester, Dean Holland; co-executive producer, Alexandra Rushfield; supervising producer, Dave King; producer, Dara Weintraub; director, Holland; writers, Apatow, Arfin, Rust; camera, Tim Suhrstedt; production designer, Ian Phillips; editor, Dan Shalk; music, Lyle Workman; casting, Allison Jones, Ben Harris. 40 MIN.

Cast

Gillian Jacobs, Paul Rust, Claudia O’Doherty, Iris Apatow, Brett Gelman, Tracie Thomas

Filed Under:

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 13

Leave a Reply

13 Comments

Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

  1. dillon77 says:

    Have just watched all 10 shows and agree with a lot of the viewpoints exchanged here, even if they are at odds with one another:
    – the Gus character needs to be fleshed out more in season 2 if he’s going to become more likeable. At first, I found him another guy who is performing “out of his league” because he seemed to be friendly and had interests, although he was a little tightly wound and controlling. Why was that? Never developed or even hinted at.
    – His good fortune at the end all came crashing down at the end, like a House of Cards, but too much, too fast.
    – And his reaction to Mickey coming clean and honest with him was to passionately kiss her? That seemed more about him. If he cared about her, a strong hug was what was needed.

    – Liked a lot of the secondary characters, particularly her Aussie roommate (Claudia O’Doherty?), a few buds from the singing parties, etc.

    – Mickey’s best match-up personality-wise thus far was Apatow’s daughter.

    – In spite of all this, I’m interested to see where this all goes in season 2, if there is a season 2.

  2. ron poorman. says:

    I’d love to see where Gus and Mickey go from here. I cant muster any enthusiasm for this mundane and generally sucky review.

  3. Bob says:

    SUCKS Stupid nerd gets hot mess. How original. I hate him even more after knocked up.

  4. Ann Davis says:

    Now in episode 6 and lead addressed as ‘nazi princess’– Judd- WTF is your problem??

  5. Ann Davis says:

    Just starting the first one and am struck by the comment that the child star’s accountant is an ‘orthodox jew so he must know what he’s doing’. Why this dialogue? Would you say in 2016 that the kid’s basketball coach is black so he must know what he’s doing? Why feed the stereotypes?
    I notice these sort of anti-Jewish jabs throughout Judd’s work and I really hate it. Something from his Sysoset Long Island past? I don’t know but without brilliant Hollywood Jews, Judd would be nowhere.

  6. Tom says:

    I believed them as a couple considering that she’s rebounding from a string of terrible relationships and Gus comes along and seems like a nice guy, which she thinks may be good for her. Instead he turns out to be an insensitive, self-absorbed passive-aggressive little brat who is never redeemed, never shows remorse, and is only ever acknowledged as an unbearable person in indirect ways. It could have been interesting and I watched until the end hoping that it would turn out well, but the writers just stabbed the show in the heart by having Gus take advantage of Mickey’s addiction and vulnerability in the very last moments of the last episode, and pretending that it’s some romantic reunion when it’s just an emotionally abusive relationship in the making.

    The characters are good, the acting was good, the show was funny at times and mellow and entertaining, but considering the ending I feel like I’ve spent several hours of just watching a girl miserably struggling by herself so as to not drown in her addiction problem and then never actually getting better. Mickey’s exes blame her for her messed up life, her therapist boss blames her, Bertie blames her, that old cat guy blames her, the shelter lady blames her, Gus blames her, and she blames herself constantly. All the while Gus is shown to be attractive to 7 girls that are way out of his league, keeps chilling with all his friends, gets his script bought, keeps his job despite lashing out and being fired, AND gets the girl at the end. I mean… what?

  7. Mayzie May says:

    I didn’t believe them as a couple at all. I liked Gus at times but found Mickey completely unlikeable. And Mickey going from Bad Ass to blubbering school girl was very unbelievable.

  8. amanda says:

    Am I the only person that didn’t find it believe the relationship at all? They just didn’t seem believable as a couple. I found them both pretty unlikable. Also the whole beautiful troubled girl is a bit over done

  9. dan says:

    I find the Gus character impossible to like. If I met this person in real life, after two hours of “yeahh, I mean no, right? Absolutely, for sure” I’d want to punch him. Hard. His ex-girlfriend, the girl in the car wash, most of the crew on the show he works on etc etc find him excruciating, so why am I supposed to like him? I really enjoy Mickey but I don’t buy her finding him attractive or likable or anything besides unbearable.
    Have I made it clear I don’t like Gus? Ok then.

  10. Bowtie22 says:

    This show was amazing! Rough at times but honest. The characters feel real and the actors bring it home. Netflix has a winner with this one. Paul Rust and Gillian Jacobs were outstanding.

  11. Jpe says:

    That’s probably the most asinine comment I’ve ever read on this board.

  12. Stewarthart@me.com says:

    The female lead character is a flithy smoker. Who could get within 3 feet of her except another flithy smoker. I’ll be skipping this one.

More TV News from Variety

Loading