I firmly believe that the best romantic comedies are no longer found at the movies, but rather on TV. From USA’s woefully under appreciated “Playing House” to FXX’s equally great “You’re the Worst,”the stories that once played out on the big screen with Tom Hanks– and Meg Ryan-types in the leads can now be found on the small screen with just a little bit more edge and finesse than their predecessors. Netflix’s latest venture into streaming TV, “Love,” appears to be the next great example of that.
Now I must admit, as of writing this I am only two episodes into the 10-episode first season, but I’ve already seen enough to keep me watching. Created by Judd Apatow, Lesley Arfin and Paul Rust, “Love” follows the growing relationship between Mickey, a somewhat troubled program manager at a satellite radio station (played by the great Gillian Jacobs), and Gus, a dopey but seemingly well-meaning on-set tutor (played by Rust). The two first meet at the end of the first episode in a chance encounter at a convenience store and end up spending a large portion the day together. They don’t necessarily seem like they would be a match; Mickey seems willing to do just about whatever, whenever (probably fueled by what appears to be somewhat frequent drug use), whereas Gus is a little more careful and restrained. But once they start talking and, more importantly, cracking jokes (in a typical Apatow fashion), a definite chemistry comes across. You want to see what they do and hear what they say. You want to stick around to see how things shake out.
It definitely doesn’t hurt that the writing is clever and funny and Jacobs and Rust both do an excellent job of bringing their characters to life, as do all of the other actors on the show. The series is really firing on all cylinders, in what seems to be typical Netflix fashion.
Like many of the characters on this new wave of romantic comedies on TV (and unlike many of the characters in the romantic comedies of film’s past), Mickey and Gus aren’t necessarily nailing it at life. They have very obvious flaws and failings. They’re not the people we aspire to be; they’re the people that we are. People just trying to figure it out like everyone else. I think that’s a key element in the success of these newer romantic comedy TV series; people aren’t looking for something necessarily aspirational or grand, that can be saved for the primetime soaps like “Scandal” and “Empire.” People are looking for something that they can identify with. Most people don’t fall in love as a result of some elaborate mix-up or heightened situation. Most people just meet a stranger in a random place and decide to talk to them, or in the case of Mickey and Gus, pay for their coffee. It’s relatable, realistic and above all, charming.
Season 1 of “Love” can be found on Netflix now. I highly suggest that you watch it soon, because it’s only a matter of time before it’s all anyone can talk about.
Have you watched any of “Love?” Have another newer romantic comedy-fueled TV series to recommend? Want my Netflix password so you can watch “Love” for free? That last one’s not gonna happen, but feel free to share any other thoughts in the comments. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to begin preparations for next week’s Oscars. Trust me, it’s a week-long process. And like I always say…