TV Review: Love : The Complete First Season (USA, 2016)

Created and written by comedic auteur Judd Apatow, Love  approaches things from a different place to Netflix’s other efforts.

As I said in my impressions piece, Love is best described as a slightly more-grounded You’re The Worst.  It’s not interested in the melodramatic highs of modern relationships – but the long awkward and often-mundane moments between them. It’s a show about holding our assumptions about what romance is supposed to look like to account and finding the humor in the ways in which it doesn’t hold up.

The series centers on the friendship that emerges between Mickey (Gillian Jacobs) and Gus (Paul Rust) in the aftermath of an chance meeting at a convenience store. Rust does a great job here as the awkward and straight-laced Gus but he’s occasionally overshadowed by Jacob’s work as Mickey, who often steals the show.

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At first glance, it’s easy to characterize Mickey as the same kind of quirky, wannabe-riot-girl Jacobs embodied in Community but like her turn in last year’s season of Girls, there’s a lot more to the character than first appears. It helps that the script gives her a lot to work with here – letting her not just explore Mickey’s frustrated (and hilarious) blunt attitude to life but also the dark self-destructive streak and loneliness that lurks below the surface.

No romantic sitcom would be complete without it’s supporting players and Love delivers.  Claudia O’Doherty’s performance as Mickey’s Australian roommate Birdie is hilarious and endearing while Brett Gelman nails it as the egocentric radio host Dr. Greg.

Throughout its ten-episode first season, Love is often messy, awkward and heart-warmingly-genuine.  It also leans a little too heavily into its setting from time to time. The trials and tribulations that Gus and Mickey are faced with individually aren’t always as compelling as the ones they face together. Gus’ adventures behind-the-scenes of television show Witchita might be funny, but they sometimes run against the relatable-grain the rest of the show embodies.

Love is a cocktail of funny modern romantic comedy carried by the chemistry of its leads. It’s got solid writing and directing and even if it sometimes gets a bit carried away, it’s immediately likable and easy to recommend.

Review Score: FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

Love is available to stream now on Netflix.

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