TV Review: Love

Zacharia Benalayat ‘17, T.V. Columnist

LOVE, a dramedy produced by Judd Apatow, was released just last week on Netflix, and it is a mess of a television show.

Now stop me if you’ve heard this before, but there are two young, white, 20- somethings who live comfortably in Los Angeles and their lives are SAD.  They are sad because their love lives are unfulfilling.  Gus (Paul Rust) is a nice guy who has a nice girlfriend and a seemingly bright future, except he’s fake nice. For example, he tells his girlfriend that he loves her.  She asks him to stop because he does it too much and that makes her feel pressured, but Gus gets angry and keeps doing it. This is not the behavior of a respectful boyfriend, but of someone who doesn’t care about his partner’s point of view, only his own, and this ultimately leads to the destruction of their relationship.  He’s a selfish lover and he can’t see how their breakup is his fault. In fact, he sees himself as the victim. He’s unlikable.  Throughout the first episode “It Begins,” we are given no reason to sympathize with him as he whines his way through his honestly not so bad life. Ultimately he does not indicate that he will learn his lesson. Instead, he will simply find “love” in the almost certainly brewing relationship with the equally screwed up Mickey (Gillian Jacobs).

And ultimately that’s a problem, because LOVE seems to show a broken and perverted kind of love.  Both emotionally damaged leads open the show just getting out of bad relationships.  Ideally through their budding relationship they will reach some sort of happiness, but the problem is there doesn’t seem to be any condemnation of Gus specifically for his bad behavior. Mickey’s bad relationship is not her own doing; Gus’s emotional instability is a direct result of his own abusive behavior in his prior relationship,  which both he and the show fail to see as a problem.  We know this because his girlfriend cheats on him, and he is therefore a sympathetic character, despite the fact that he is obviously emotionally manipulating and abusing her the entirety of her screen time.  But it is Gus we should feel sorry for because he is just “so nice.” In the opening episode, what should be a  reflective journey on what went wrong for him is instead an ego boost from sympathetic friends, and a threesome with two sisters that he turns down because he thinks that’s incest.  And this decision is somehow framed as noble, as if turning down a threesome makes him a better man.  The show seems to find no problem with his behaviors, and that’s bad writing.

I’d speak more on Mickey’s character, but Gillian Jacobs is given nothing to do besides drinking herself into a stupor so there’s not a lot to discuss.  I’ll say that she’s far more sympathetic a character than Gus though.  LOVE is poorly thought-out, sends bad messages, and has a thoroughly unlikable lead, but does not seem to realize it.  LOVE is a bad show, and if this first episode is any indication it will not improve as the series goes on.  It is not worth your time.

Recommendation: Don’t Watch It