Because Netflix originals so rarely disappoint, I binged one all weekend: Judd Apatow’s Love. It started out sort of slow, and at first I couldn’t get past how annoyed I was with Gus (for the record, I would have broken up with him too because HOLY COW he is annoying in that first episode). It really hits its stride after the second or third episode though, as it finds clever ways to embrace the cringe-worthy awkwardness that often accompanies modern dating. Love is especially refreshing in its approach to romance in the sense that Apatow’s intentions are not to define romantic love as the ultimate catalyst for achieving happiness. As Adrienne Lafrance writes in this Atlantic article, much of Apatow’s work, particularly Love, “[is] about more than winning the girl…[its] about how you become a good person” (2016). So often it seems that television and film (particularly romantic comedies) default to conceptualizing romantic partners and relationships as being prerequisites to fulfillment. Love challenges this narrative in the same ways that BoJack Horseman and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend do.
Still from Love, “It Begins,” (Season 1, Episode 1, 2016) Image from http://variety.com/2016/tv/reviews/love-review-judd-apatow-netflix-paul-rust-gillian-jacobs-comedy-1201695005/
In the first episode we’re introduced to Gus, Mickey and their significant others. Both relationships end painfully, and the rest of the episode is spent chronicling the fallout from the breakups. In an attempt to reach closure, Mickey’s ex-boyfriend invites her to attend a new-age church service. Drugged up on Ambien and likely still suffering from the post-breakup blues, Mickey jumps up onto the stage to lament the reality that “hoping for love has ruined [her] life”. I don’t want to sound like a pessimist, but this felt so relevant! I really appreciate the ways in which this show plays with the idea that “love” isn’t necessarily always the “end all, be all” of one’s life. Don’t get me wrong: relationships can be incredible and fun and bring about lots of happiness, especially when they’re new. But I also think that spending all of your energy on the idea of love instead of simply engaging in the act of it will leave you miserable and unsatisfied. I’m glad this show addresses that in a way that doesn’t feel condescending.
So—it’s not my new favorite show or anything, but it definitely made me a laugh out loud a couple of times, and it offered some substantial food for thought. For those of you who’ve seen the show, what did you think?