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Sunday, June 16, 2024

Netflix series ‘Love’ brings new angle to silver screen romantic comedies

Do you ever add something to your Netflix queue and completely forget about it? Or worse, know about your ever-growing line of potential silver screen masterpieces but are too lazy to start something new? You know, when the show’s trailer is staring you in the face, self-consciously wondering why you refuse to give it the time of day. Sure, Netflix tosses a little push notification here and there, but starting a new series requires a very specific mood. Are you ready to get attached to a whole new reality? What if the trailer is actually just the highlight reel? Do you even have time? Your commitment issues are showing.

For literal months, Netflix reminded me about “Love,” Judd Apatow’s latest venture, and I ignored it. I did not have time and I was not that interested. Nevertheless, Netflix persisted, and thank goodness.

Let “Love” out of your queue and press play; it is worthy of your attention.

This Netflix series, created by Apatow, Lesley Arfin and Paul Rust, follows the intertwining paths of chronic “nice guy with a dream” Gus Cruikshank (Rust) from Oklahoma and Mickey Dobbs (Gillian Jacobs), a Los Angeles girl casually addicted to nearly every vice possible, as they try to find the balance between dependence, obsession and self-acceptance on their path to falling in love.

“Love’s" 10-episode first season started off painfully indie, as in a slowness so extreme it took a few days to willingly finish. However, once the character banter started to feel relevant to the series’ formal plot—around the third episode, give or take—the audience will get hooked.

Mickey and Gus’ chemistry is as awkward, engaging and relatable as any two anti-dating humans could hope to be in an undefined, open-but-maybe-not relationship with an otherwise complete stranger. They met through happenstance and continue to fall together in hopes that there is something more than infatuation at the end of the tunnel.

Everyone knows that it’s hard to work on your own flaws while simultaneously attempting to hide them from everyone around you, but this happens to be where Mickey and Gus thrive. Gus, a wannabe scriptwriter currently working as an on-site tutor for a child actress on the set of a fictional young adult hit, “Witchita,” projects his co-dependence on a rather unlikeable Mickey, who has a habit of lying at Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, relying on Gus to feed her sex and love addiction. These characters are more than off-centered; they are in severe need of continual therapy and alone time. The audience consistently finds itself at the confusing intersection of cheering them on as a couple, wishing they would spend some time apart and never being too sure what is healthy or not.

This is why “Love” is proving to be so successful. In carving out a new corner of the romantic comedy genre—realism—we all see a very raw piece of ourselves in these characters. Love is hard, that we know, but Apatow and Company push further.

One of the most notable ways in which “Love” excels in reinventing romance on the silver screen is through their conceptualization of time. Typically, stories of this nature compress months, sometimes years, into a couple of seasons as a way to maximize emotion by skipping the mundane moments in-between milestones. “Love,” however, does the opposite. The first season was a little bit more than a week’s time and, by the end of the second season, not even two months has passed. This passing of time, or lack thereof, is significant to the storyline’s overall premise.

In regard to the storyline, this is real love in all of its glory. There is no such thing as the perfect relationship, regardless of what every Kate Hudson film has taught us. A budding romance is often a stressful venture that requires an ungodly amount of time and attention. This series not only accepts the emotional work that goes into starting something new, but celebrates these stressors in their rawest form. For example, finding a communication balance within a new relationship is a difficult task. Here is where most find themselves calculating response times, constructing a response with the precision of a nuclear scientist and panicking until the cycle begins again. “Love” embraces this chaotic reality by showcasing two individuals who are in the heart of this phase we all know too well.

“Love” is about the moments in between. It is more than the first kiss, an isolated fight or the first date story. It is waking up each morning and choosing to be next to someone. It is picking your battles and tirelessly working toward a compromise. It is messy, confusing and often fleeting—especially in the age of technology. It is rare to find a show that is able to capture this hodgepodge of emotions in all of their tumultuous glory, but “Love” does just that.

So here we are: Will Mickey and Gus make it? How many self-help groups can one be part of before one-on-one therapy is the answer? How many child actors need to employ Gus in order for him to afford his Los Angeles rent? Only time will tell.

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Hopefully the third season that Netflix ordered a few weeks ago will answer some of these pressing questions. With the release date and episode count still to be determined, now is the perfect time to cancel your Tinder date and watch the first two seasons of “Love” if you haven’t already. You will not regret it.

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