Love made its Netflix premiere last weekend to what I felt like was very little fanfare. It stars Gillian Jacobs and Paul Rust, who are recognizable when you see them but certainly not household names. I knew it was directed by Judd Apatow beforehand, and he sometimes makes moderately funny movies, so I decided to give it the millennial treatment and binge watch the show in under two days.
Our protagonist, Gus, is your prototypical Judd Apatow character. He’s a bit of a dork, his girlfriend (who becomes his ex-girlfriend) hates him, and most importantly he’s incredibly lost in his personal and professional life. He works as a tutor for the child actors of a fictional television show called “Witchita,” which, if it were real, would either be airing on ABC Family or The CW on Tuesday nights at 7 p.m. Gillian Jacobs plays Mickey, a promiscuous stoner who jumps from one partner to another at the drop of a hat. Like Gus, Mickey is lost. This is due in part to her constant battle with addiction (which she sometimes seeks treatment for), but also because she has a shitty boss and a fucked up love life. Mickey works as radio show producer, so from the outset it’s not hard to see that the romance between our two main characters could only happen in Los Angeles. If your only knowledge of the L.A. social scene was watching this show, you will hate the city by the end of the last episode. Love will almost certainly appeal to any twenty-something living in L.A., but the show is exclusionary in that it expects that everyone watching is an aspiring screenwriter and knows what it’s like to be living there. More on that in a minute.
I loved the first three episodes of this show because they were realistic. Gus’s girlfriend breaks up with him unceremoniously and under false pretenses, he takes a walk alone to the gas station and meets an irate Mickey. She has her own relationship issues with her on-again off-again cokehead boyfriend who appears to be on the wrong side of 40. Mickey is irate because 1.) she forgot her wallet at home, and 2.) her sort of boyfriend who just left her house doesn’t give her the respect she feels she deserves. So Gus pays for her cigarettes, and we have established a friendship in the first few minutes of the first episode. Fine, no complaints so far. Soon after Gus and Mickey become friends, and Mickey sets Gus up on a date with her roommate. This is a hilarious disaster and is also, in my opinion, the most realistic plot point of the series.
First of all, Gillian Jacobs character is WAY too hot to give a guy who looks like Paul Rust the time of day, so for him to get set up with her roommate is truthful to what would happen in the vainest city on Earth. Gus lives alone in an unpopular part of town and throws parties with his friends where they create theme songs to bad movies. He’s desperately trying to get a script he wrote greenlit, which is also realistic. I visited Los Angeles for a week and a half last year and I’m not exaggerating when I say that every person I met told me they were a writer. But like I said above, you wouldn’t know that unless you’ve lived there or visited for an extended period of time, which makes the show exclusive and pretentious.
So the nerd meets a pretty girl. Pretty girl realizes she needs a nice guy. Nice guy wins. It’s a story we’ve seen a million times.
The dialogue is very funny at times, and it rings true because Judd Apatow has written a ton of movies just like this show. But similar to every movie he’s ever made, things take way longer than they should to materialize. Every Apatow directed movie I’ve seen was about thirty minutes too long. The same goes for Love, except this is a ten episode series, and I’d say it was at the very least two episodes too long. Gus and Mickey don’t start hooking up until something like the seventh episode, which leaves us with two episodes to wrap everything up.
The idea of doing a “slow burn” is not some new, revolutionary idea. Game of Thrones is probably the best example of a television show that takes time to build characters and plot lines. I stopped watching after the second season because I couldn’t keep the goddamn characters straight. But the slow burn works for a lot of shows because there are so many things that need explaining. Love is not one of those shows. For Apatow to take seven episodes to get us, the viewer, to Gus and Mickey just sort of dating is annoying and incredibly frustrating. The episodes are anywhere from 40 to 60 minutes a piece, and although I love binge watching tv shows just as much as anyone, I wanted to stop watching after the fifth episode. The story goes nowhere from episode 4 to episode 7. This isn’t Game of Thrones, and there are only so many weed and sex jokes I can take before it gets old.
The premise of the show is a solid one, and I can understand why it’s already renewed for a second season. People (read: me) will watch and finish a season in a couple days. Gus and Mickey would never start dating in real life, though. I don’t even think Mickey would hook up with a guy like Gus. Gus takes her to a fucking magic show on their first date. Conventional wisdom says that getting taken to a magic show is not going to parlay itself into sex or a second date. And it’s fine that the writers of this show went for the easy clichéd story of the down on his luck loser who ends up with the hot girl, but my God. Get to the fucking point. This story could have been told in six or seven episodes and saved me three and half hours. I’ll more than likely be hate watching season two when it gets released. I’ve been hearing people talk about Love like it’s some sort of modern day Gone With The Wind. I’m here to tell you that it’s not, but if you’re staying in this weekend and need something to watch, this is the show for you. Just don’t watch Love with the expectation that you’re going to get something introspective or original..
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