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'Love' at first sight: A look at Netflix's latest


February 23, 2016

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    “I’ve been asking and asking, and I haven’t gotten f—ing anything,” says Mickey, played by Gillian Jacobs. “Hoping and waiting and wishing and wanting love… Hoping... hoping for love has f—ing ruined my life.” 
    The romance in Love avoids being another cookie-cutter display of cute couples doing cute things. Instead, there’s a refreshing amount of uncomfortable darkness and authenticity attached to Netflix’s latest original feature, a Judd Apatow-produced romantic comedy show starring Gillian Jacobs (Community) and co-creator Paul Rust (I Love You Beth Cooper). 
    Part of its authenticity comes from its relaxed, naturalistic, pitch-perfect pacing. Jacobs and Rust’s characters, Mickey and Gus, only encounter each other near the very end of the 40-minute pilot. In fact, excluding the second episode, the first half of the 10-episode-long series spends long periods of screentime with the leads separated and away from each other. Early in the season, Mickey and Gus spend an entire episode deciding when and what to text each other while they each go about their separate days.
    Episodes tend to range between 30–40 minutes; the additional runtime, in comparison with a traditional network sitcom, gives Love the opportunity to let its comedic and dramatic scenes breathe. Sparks fly and butterflies flutter in spectacularly slow fashion for Mickey and Gus. In Love, laughs might occur quick and often, but romance is truly a slow burn. 
    Like most people’s venture into dating, Love doesn’t quite get it right the first time. It starts out super raunchy and uneven in its first episode. However, as soon as the second episode begins, it finds and settles into a nice groove. Characters rise above and deconstruct their original archetypes, become more grounded and given greater depth. 
    Jacobs’ heartbreaking portrayal of a woman left damaged and vulnerable by both addiction and a bad string of horrible boyfriends is absolutely breathtaking. In addition, Rust’s ability to emit low-key charm, in what could have easily been a pathetic and grating character, also deserves applause. The chemistry and repartee between Jacobs and Rust is what keeps Love’s heart alive and beating.  
    By the end of the show’s run, Mickey and Gus are still just as confused and unclear about how to navigate love and the messiness that comes with it. However, they, along with the show, have grown and transformed into something better than what they were before.

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