Words by Jessica Rovniak.
Calling a series Love creates expectations, and for the cynics those expectations are somewhere along the lines of cheesy, basic crap. But alas dear pessimists! You are mistaken! (Oh, and to the dreamers who think it’ll be cathartic, or a festival of dance, you’re also mistaken.)
Love, which debuted on Netflix on February 19, gives a little to both the optimist and the pessimist. Covering modern love, both romantic and platonic, it also tackles addiction in an intimate and unexpected way.
Speaking of unhealthy behavior, I binge-watched the series in a 5.5 hour marathon. (Don’t worry, I’ve done worse) Here is the Netflix series Love, created by Judd Apatow, Lesley Arfin, and Paul Rust, as binged by a dreamer.
EPISODE ONE: “IT BEGINS”
And begin it did, with a bang. Literally. The series opens with Mickey (Gillian Jacobs) and Gus (Paul Rust) banging their respective significant other. The look on Paul Rust’s face during sex will haunt your dreams, or nightmares, for at least another few weeks. Unfortunately, my extensive research in romantic comedies indicates a couple banging in the first minutes of the show is not a good sign. Throw in a “ONE MONTH LATER” card, and yikes.
Of course, Gus’ girlfriend Natalie (Milana Vayntrub) admits to cheating, and Mickey’s boyfriend Eric (Kyle Kinane) still lives with his mother. The line was drawn when she finds his mother still buys his pants… cause like… pshhhh… who still does that right?
Another “ANOTHER MONTH LATER” card, Damn.
Basically, their lives are a mess. Gus gets sucked into a “kickback” with some college kids that live at his new apartment complex. I’m sorry, but who the actual fuck says “kickback.” I am not that old. (Or am I?) Is it a Cali thing? I need answers. If people really say kickback, please let me know. Also, please let me know if all kickbacks end with an unexpected 3-way, because then I’ll give them another chance. As we could have surmised, Gus is not a veteran 3-way kind of dude, but he does know something’s a little off when the participants reveal they are…sisters. A hammered Gus kicks the ladies out of his apartment.
[Editor’s Note: Yes, kickback is a West coast term. And no, they don’t usually end in a 3-way but I’ve been in New York for some years now. Things may have changed. –Erika Ramirez]
Meanwhile, Mickey takes in a roommate, Bertie (Claudia O’Doherty), who is the most adorable person in the universe. Mickey continues to go on a nice little journey of taking a bunch of Ambien and meeting Eric at Bliss House, a “church for all churches” that preaches to “ask for love and you shall receive.” Despite me screaming “no, no, no, no,” on my couch, Mickey takes the stage during the service to announce that waiting, and asking for love has been ruining her life, but she is convinced that her married friends don’t have it figured out either. She just wants to figure it out. PREACH GIRL!
As fate would have it, these nights lead two hungover protagonists to the SAME GAS STATION. Isn’t life grand? Romance conquers all!
Favorite line: “You’re fucking fake nice, and that’s worse than being mean!”
What I ate (during the episode): A bagel I ordered that morning, and forgot about.
EPISODE TWO: “ONE LONG DAY”
In the oh-so annoying instance of forgetting your wallet, Gus offers to buy Mickey’s coffee at the gas station. (And they say chivalry is dead! Take that!)
She insists on paying him back, and they walk to her place. This part has beautifully quiet and real moments, but quirky (cant leave out the quirk). The moment I fell in love was when Gus explains the plot of the movie Armed and Dangerous, because he’s all my guy friends. They all know way too much about way too many movies. When he corrects her about the house in Nightmare on Elm Street not being the house where Freddy Kruger lives, but actually the house where the girl who had dreams about him lived, I out loud yelled, “Holy shit, he is Ryan and Joe.”
When Mickey realizes she left her wallet at Bliss House, her and Gus set out of what becomes one long day. She retrieves her wallet, and they hot box her car. We very quickly realize that Gus does NOT smoke weed and is immediately useless and adorable. In his dazed stupor, Gus gives Mickey his ex’s address instead of his own. Oh boy, here we go.
First, they fight. Second, she demands he take his DVD collection with him. (Uh, they’re Blu-rays lady!) Third, she drops the horrific bomb that she never really cheated; she just said that so he would finally leave. The line encapsulating her repression was, “Your kindness was pure hostility.”
While in the car, Gus revolts against his historically romantic nature, blaming songs and movies for our false belief in love–he throws his Blu-rays out the window onto the streets of L.A. (Him throwing out When Harry Met Sally hurt my feelings a little bit, but hey, we love and forgive.) Of course, he regrets his actions immediately upon getting home. But the sentiment! The sentiment reigns on!
Favorite line: Natalie (on the Blu-rays): “Well, it’s all just shit you can watch online.”
Gus: “You can’t watch it online, these Blu-rays have exclusive special features. Yah, bitch.”
What I ate: A solid liter of ginger ale.
EPISODE THREE: “TESTED”
The pressure is on. Gus readies himself to text Mickey. The first text. What do you say? Dear god. This is crucial. I’m on the edge of my couch.
Gus lands on the time-tested, never flawed, perfectly cavalier, “Sup?” Then, as we all must do, he goes on living his life, and waiting.
Gus works as a tutor on the set of a network show “Witchita” about suburban witches. It’s as bad as it sounds. As someone who has worked on set before, they pretty much nail it, especially Kevin (Jordan Rock) of Craft Services, who acts as his on set friend and confidant. Aria (Iris Apatow) is the child actor that Gus tutors, and she’s a little shit. Like many spoiled children, she only wants to watch vine videos, and Gus is no match for her. The show runner Susan Cheryl (Tracie Thoms) informs him that if Aria doesn’t pass the state exam she can’t work for 30 days, and he’ll be fired. Oh also, Mickey hasn’t texted back yet.
But, Mickey has her own problems. When she gets into a fender bender while replying to Gus, his response flies to the back burner. On top of that, her life at work gets weird. She works as a programming manager at a radio show called “Heart Work.” When the host, her boss Dr. Greg Colter (Brett Gelman) hits on her she realizes that she’ll be fired like every other girl who hasn’t reciprocated feelings for him if she doesn’t act now. Realizing that she can’t live unemployed, in a fit of panic, she over does it just a bit, and sleeps with him. “You can’t fire me now, because you’re fucking me,” she announces mid-coital. Is this feminism? Is she crazy? All I know is my roommate and I yelled, in unison, “Why is she doing this?”
Back to Gus: Aria has a major meltdown during the test that actually makes her kind of empathetic; there’s a lot of pressure on child actors. She storms out of the test after smashing a banana on her head, which was hilarious, but you know, also sad. Gus finishes her test for her, he gets to keep his job, but, still no response from Mickey.
Mickey’s boss freaks out on her. Turns out, he fired those other girls for legit reasons and he genuinely liked Mickey…Shit. After a fit of rage, he leaves by saying, “You just really hurt my feelings.” Damn, you hurt a grown man’s feelings.
After all this, while eating ice cream with her roommate, she remembers to text Gus back, “Nothing. Sup with you?” His day is made, as is mine.
Favorite line: Kevin to Gus, on the first text: “Nothing dries up a vagina more than a paragraph.”
What I ate: Almost a whole bag of flaming hot Cheetos. I will not clarify as to whether it was family-size or not.
EPISODE FOUR: “A PARTY IN THE HILLS”
THIS. A title song party: Gus and his friends get together and write title songs for movies that don’t have them. “Perfect Storm” is the choice of the evening, and it is fantastic.
But, the party gets put on hold when Mickey invites Gus to a party in the hills “at 7.” Gus, our lovable dork, shows up at 7, on the dot. COME ON DUDE. Does Mickey seem like an on-time person? Well, regardless of my hollering at the TV, he waltzes in right at 7, and is the first person at the party.
Once Mickey shows up it doesn’t get much better. She fights with two exes just as Gus settles in with an Adidas-logo ridden blonde, and starts a jam session with the host. Mickey starts to drink, despite agreeing to be the designated driver. A speech ensues: She encourages party-goers to re-live the glory days of their youth! (Look Mickey, if it went south for Tina and Amy in Sisters, its going south for you too.) It ends with everyone jumping in the pool, including Mickey–except she belly flops off the roof and gets the wind knocked out of her.
As she and Gus sit in the bathroom recovering, Bertie joins them. Mickey realizes they are both the nicest people she knows and decides that they should go on a date. Ugh, no.
Favorite line: When Bertie sings the Australian drinking song.
What I ate: Nothing, instead I online shopped. Everyone was dressed super cool in this episode that it inspired my Spring wardrobe.
EPISODE FIVE: THE DATE
This episode starts with Mickey in an AA meeting.
Contrary to her drunken night the night before, she claims sobriety in the meeting. In her car, she cries as she resets her app from 1 year and 5 months to zero. I didn’t expect this going in. It’s getting real.
Gus and Bertie have their date that night. Gus arrives early per usual. The date is just the right amount of awful that makes you wonder, does this person suck or are we just having a bad time? Their mutual desire to be respectful and nice becomes problematic when they’re seated under a cold air vent and next to a very loud Italian guy.
Meanwhile, Mickey tries to distract herself from drinking and smoking with just about anything like, learning the harmonica, masturbating, and rearranging the living room.
Back on the date (after Gus insists they move tables), Bertie means to text Mickey saying that the date isn’t going well, but she texts Gus on accident. In an effort to find the good in the horribly bad, Gus screen caps the text from Bertie and sends it to Mickey, and adds that “I’m embracing this disaster and seeing how hard I can bomb.” YES.
Kicking it up a notch, Mickey texts Bertie giving her a heads up. The two fight fire with fire, making absurd and rude opinions on sensitive topics. (Finally, another 9/11 conspiracy theorist!) Mickey then texts Gus that Bertie knows that he knows. (Are you still following?) The back and forth culminates in Gus choking on a piece of steak, which Bertie thinks is part of the bit–it’s not. He barfs.
When the texts stop coming, Mickey struggles again. She meets with her neighbor Syd (Kerri Kenney-Silver) and tells her about AA. Syd empathizes; she’s been there too. She doesn’t necessarily advocate for AA, but does advise Mickey to surround herself with people who care. She only met her husband, once she decided to hold out for someone who was nice to her. Yeah, Kerri Kenney-Silver! I think I know who you’re talking about!
After Bertie and Gus return from their date, and announce they’ll be just friends, Gus confronts Mickey about the setup. She knew that he liked her, and he’s not OK with being pawned off just so she doesn’t have to date him.
She runs out to his car as he leaves, and kisses him through the window. THERE’S MY ROM COM MOMENT!
Favorite line: “Maybe I’m not nice. Like sometimes, if a waiter is really bad, I’ll tip them like 30% so they go, like, ‘Uh, I didn’t deserve this.'” –Gus.
Fun fact: I wrote this summary in the bathroom, because flaming hot Cheetos.