What’s love got to do with it?

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?


-Callie Sartain


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5 Responses to What’s love got to do with it?

  1. mediaphiles says:

    I’ve seen the advertisement on Netflix for this show a couple of times, but have yet to watch any of it. Your analysis of it makes it seem really interesting. I’m often frustrated by the fact that rom coms place love as the ultimate fulfillment, so the idea of a show that tackles love, but doesn’t make it the number one priority in life, sounds intriguing. I’ll have to check it out!
    -Valerie Medoff

  2. mediaphiles says:

    This reminds me of Dr. Dalton’s favorite children’s story (we’ll have to ask her the name of it on Thursday because I forgot) but I think it totally adds to the “everything isn’t a Cinderella mentality.” I don’t think you sound pessimistic at all! I think Dr. Dalton would agree that this discussion about “love” and what is expected of us as people with those relationships is so hard – especially considering how intertextuality functions in that conversation. Interesting, Callie! Can’t wait to watch. – Corey

  3. mediaphiles says:

    I actually hate this show! Sorry to open with such a polarizing opinion, but I think that all this show serves to do with its pathetic/awkward/selfish characters is play into our generation’s pathetic/awkward/selfish ideas of love. Our generation has a phobia towards love, which is why we hook up and don’t date, are exclusive but are not boyfriend and girlfriend, etc. I think these attitudes only serve to perpetuate these non-romantic expectations and comfort people who are scared of labeling what love is. I agree that you’re right that we shouldn’t put all these expectations on love and should just simply engage with it, but I disagree that the show is the means to this end. – REECE GUIDA

  4. mediaphiles says:

    I haven’t seen the show, it never really caught my attention while I trolled on Netflix to find something new to watch. After reading your blog post I can’t say that I’ll watch but I am intrigued with your takeaways from the show because I completely agree! I really feel like a lot of people our age are putting way too much pressure on themselves to find “the one” and this seemingly perfect relationship that only exists on instagram. Of course it’s nearly impossible not to fall into that trap but I do think it’s important to realize that looking of your happiness in someone else or a relationship isn’t going to have a lasting affect because you need to love yourself first. -Courtney Green

  5. mediaphiles says:

    I watched the show when it first came out, primarily because I like most of Judd’s stuff and I’m a big fan of Paul Rust (particularly his appearances on the Comedy Bang! Bang! Podcast…check out his “New No-No!” routines on YouTube, they’re hilarious. Ok plug over). I was honestly kind of apathetic towards it. It had its moments, and I took away a lot of the same observations you list here, but I just didn’t feel like the show really said anything that hasn’t already been said before and been said better by other shows or films. It doesn’t quite make the exact same arguments as Love, but for the record, I think the best examination of modern romance to come out in the last few years is Spike Jonze’s brilliant and beautiful sci-fi love story Her. It gets at a number of similar ideas and is just a really profound and affecting movie. So if you’re interested in shows or films that make those kinds of statements, I would highly recommend it.

    –Kevin Pabst

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