Thursday, July 7, 2016

TV Review: LOVE - Season 1

Created by Paul Rust, Lesley Arfin and Judd Apatow, Love is a Netflix Original romantic comedy series that is way less pretentious and quirky than its title suggests. After a very bad day Mickey (Gillian Jacobs) meets Gus (Paul Rust) at their local grocery store after he paid her coffee, as she had no money with her. Love tells the story of the two of them trying to figure out their very messy lives whilst feeling a connection for each other after that first quirky, yet sweet day together.

After Freaks and Geeks and Undeclared, Judd Apatow has graced us with another brilliant series to add to his resume and it is so wonderful that he finally gets the chance to do a second season, as both of his previous shows were cancelled after their first season and they were both so deserving of further character work.

This is the third time I find myself reviewing a Judd Apatow series in less than two months and I feel like I'm being kind of repetitive because the reason this show succeeds is exactly the same reason his others do. Apatow treats the characters with affection and love and develops them in a constantly poignant and relatable way, whilst never loosing a sense of fun and love for life which lights up the screen. This treatment of the characters comes with the usual, non-stop laughs that constantly carry forward the storytelling in an effort of combination between comedy and story that is both perfect and extremely rare to find.

The writers populate this show with such distinguishable and unique characters, it never feels like they have to stop and halt the story just to get a gag and some laughs out of it. They integrate every person organically, and whilst it is clear that almost every side character is playing off a stereotype, they always get away with it, both because of great self-consciousness and because of genuine story beats where all of the people are handed turns that ground them in reality. So, whenever the comedy come out, it gradually builds and releases flowing naturally with story. It is such a difficult thing to pull off, but Apatow has demonstrated throughout all of his career that he has a natural instinct for playing to stereotypes, reversing them, mocking them, using them correctly to understand a character instantaneously and ultimately delivering the laughs without ever feeling slightly offensive nor looking down at these characters.

Now, the show's merits don't end simply on comedy value, actually comedy might be secondary to what is the primary focus of the writers, which is the relationship between Mickey and Gus. This is a great opportunity to look at blossoming relationships, the complications of dating and trying to make someone else like you, but most of all looking at two different types of broken individuals (one admittedly more than the other) and the challenges they face in their every day lives which aren't, by any means, romanticized, and instead ring so true and bittersweet.

I think this series gave me a crush on Gillian Jacobs, who brings to life Mickey in all of her off beat charisma and humanity. She is for sure the character whom I most related to, but also the one that had the most interesting arc. There are many, many points in the show where Mickey takes decisions that aren't necessarily understandable, looking from the outside-in, but Jacobs grounds the character so much as she strips away any filters and gives this incredibly human performance that manages to make us stick with her even when she repeatedly makes the wrong choices. Paul Rust isn't any less interesting, and while his struggles are very different from Mickey's, it makes for a very fresh dynamic throughout the show. Gus is painted as a very coherent character and the perfect "Apatowian" under-dog who has become a staple of the years still never loosing his fascination with audiences thanks to an always original take on the dynamic.

Does the show have flaws? Yes, it is occasionally a little too exuberant and the approach to some characters might be considered simplistic or rushed at times, but on such a low budget it is extremely impressive to look at the quality of storytelling and character development we are handed in five and a half hours of content that pass by in the blink of an eye, with another 12 episodes coming next year.  Another joyful gem from Judd Apatow.

James's Score: 8/10

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