×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

TV Review: ‘Love’

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

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

More TV

  • Alfonso Cuaron71st Annual Writers Guild Awards,

    Alfonso Cuarón on Academy's 'Inevitable' Reversal on Televised Oscar Categories

    Alfonso Cuarón isn’t exactly surprised that the Academy reversed its decision and will now air all the Oscar categories during the live show on Sunday. Feb. 24. Calling the decision “inevitable,”Cuarón tells Variety that he thinks the Academy should take things even further. “Let’s stop calling them technical categories!” he told Variety on Sunday night [...]

  • Desus Nice The Kid Mero

    TV Shows to Watch the Week of Feb. 18, 2019: Academy Awards, 'Desus & Mero'

    Welcome back to Tune In: our weekly newsletter offering a guide to the best of the week’s TV. Each week, Variety’s TV team combs through the week’s schedule, selecting our picks of what to watch and when/how to watch them. This week, the Academy Awards air and Desus & Mero make their debut on Showtime. [...]

  • WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 00:00:01

    BBC Takes Stake in New Company Set Up by ‘Luther,’ ‘Bodyguard’ Exec

    BBC Studios has taken a minority stake in Firebird Pictures, the new drama indie being set up by BBC execs Elizabeth Kilgarriff and Craig Holleworth. Kilgarriff’s credits include “Luther,” “Poldark,” “McMafia” and upcoming Richard Gere-starrer “MotherFatherSon.” She commissioned breakout drama hit “Bodyguard.” Holleworth will be the new company’s COO, having run business and operations for [...]

  • Punisher Jessica Jones

    Marvel's 'The Punisher,' 'Jessica Jones' Canceled at Netflix

    The last of Netflix’s Marvel shows are officially ending. “The Punisher” has been canceled after its second season, and the upcoming third season of “Jessica Jones” will be its last, Netflix confirmed on Monday. The announcement comes after Netflix gave the ax to its other Marvel series: “Daredevil,” “Iron First,” and “Luke Cage.” Related Judd Apatow’s Netflix [...]

  • SND Boards Comedy Series 'Family Shake'

    SND Boards Comedy Series 'Family Shake' With 'Desperate Parents' Producer

    SND, the commercial arm of the French TV network M6, has acquired worldwide distribution rights to “Family Shake,” a comedy series written by Baya Kasmi and Michel Leclerc. SND is the latest vertically integrated French film group to start handling live-action series, following TF1 Studio, Studiocanal and Gaumont, among others. Produced by Gaëlle Cholet at [...]

  • 'Super Shiro' Anime Series Inspired by

    'Super Shiro' Anime Series Inspired by 'Crayon Shin-chan'

    The enduringly popular Japanese cartoon franchise “Crayon Shin-chan” has inspired a new animated TV series, “Super Shiro.” “Crayon Shin-chan” has been on air since 1992 and inspired 26 feature films. “Super Shiro” is a fast-paced chase series, for kids, based on original IP by Yoshito Usui and scripted by on Kimiko Ueno.  The series is [...]

  • Us Television Writers and Producers Maria

    ‘Mad Men’s’ Andre, Maria Jacquemetton Set for Series Mania’s UGC Writers Campus

    MADRID — André and Maria Jacquemetton, the Emmy and WGA Award-winning writer-producers of AMC’s “Mad Men” and consulting producers on Amazon Studios’ “The Romanoffs,” will serve as Guests of Honor at Series Mania’s UGC Writers Campus, a workshop whose participants include Denmark’s Christina Miller-Harris and Israel’s Noy Carmel. The Jacquemettons will deliver a masterclass and [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content