By Mackenzie Cutruzzula
After reading an article from Monday, Feb. 22, on Vulture that covered the trend of television shows that cast an average male actor aside a much more attractive female love interest, I was hesitant to watch Judd Apatow’s most recent venture, “Love,” which followed suit. That’s not to say Paul Rust, who plays leading man Gus, isn’t cute enough for Gillian Jacobs, who stars alongside him as Mickey. But in Hollywood terms, the couple is a bit mismatched from the outside looking in.
However, upon watching the series, Apatow restored my trust in his creative choices, because “Love” takes an unexpected approach to modern romance and the tropes the lead characters embody.
Gus is the stereotypical nice guy who just had his heart broken. He is a nerdy pushover who never goes out to get what he wants. Within this description, that is something overdone in Hollywood. Yet, Gus defies his archetype — he’s a nice guy, but that doesn’t make him a good person. Selfish and annoyingly not self-aware, Gus is more realistic, even as he is throwing all of his DVDs out of a moving car as an act of rebellion. He desperately wants to be liked and, in turn, is always trying to please those around him in typical good guy fashion, but he also does a really poor job of it because, like a real person, Gus has flaws.
My favorite part of the series was Mickey’s narrative arch because it was the most surprising. Set up to be the perfect “manic pixie dream girl,” Mickey has big, innocent eyes and a quirky taste and is placed into Gus’s life just when he needs someone like her most. It was almost as if “Garden State” director Zach Braff had written the script himself. Except “Love” was co-created by Rust and his real-life wife, Lesley Arfin, thankfully creating the ultimate demise of this trope.
Mickey isn’t just written as a vehicle to awaken Gus’s soul — she has an actual story with real emotions and problems that she is working through. Her problems aren’t just fixed because Gus is willing to love her, just like Gus isn’t suddenly a good person because Mickey is willing to take a chance on him.
Unlike other works by Apatow, “Love” is successful because it deals with dark issues and modern romance with a sense of realism instead of optimism. The characters are meant to be uncomfortable and frustrating because they are realistic and flawed — and that’s the best part.
By Sean Reis
When Judd Apatow’s “Love” was released exclusively on Netflix shortly after Valentine’s Day, I felt obligated to upset myself by watching the entire series (because I’m single). However, following my binge, I was surprised to find I was not upset for the reasons that I had predicted.
I was extremely disappointed with what I had dedicated my time to watch. “Love” felt as though I was watching an average, romantic, made-for-television comedy. The plot was cliché, featuring awkward guy Gus Cruikshank (played by co-creator Paul Rust) who meets beautiful women that seem to fall for him for unknown reasons.
From the first episode’s threesome scene, to Heidi (Briga Heelan), the actress who seduces Gus, to his rocky relationship with leading lady Mickey (Gillian Jacobs), these girls seem to flock to Gus — one of those usual romantic comedy stories often seen in movies.
But “Love” was an hour or so worth of watchable content that should have been made into one movie. It seemed like Apatow decided to stretch the story into 10 TV episodes instead, though, writing romantic filler to outweigh the comic relief. I literally only laughed out loud four or five times, and two of those times were during the season finale, which felt like quite the long wait for entertainment.
I also counted three episodes, as well as scenes from others, that could have been removed almost entirely without the show’s overall arc being broken. The third episode, for example, had necessary plot points, but they could have easily been written elsewhere because they were irrelevant to the episode’s fluff. Many scenes from other episodes deemed worthy for removal, too, because they were as though only to fill as much time as possible.
All forms of entertainment feature filler material, but when the filler does not “entertain,” well, does it really need to be included? Remove that fluff and the show could have been an excellent romantic comedy, but Apatow made “Love” 10 episodes too many for my love.