The first season of Judd Apatow‘s LOVE wasn’t the most hyped series of Netflix’s roster, but regardless it proved a refreshing take on what a romantic comedy series could be. For the most part, it leaned away from the tropes and kept the focus not on this idealised way we expect romance to be, but on how it more often-than-not manifests in our own world. In a world where romance-driven series often fall on cliche, LOVE felt not just a little different but different enough to find its groove.
Picking up right from the final scene of the first season, the second season feels a lot more confident. Smartly, it takes the development of the relationship between Mickey (Paul Rust) and Gus (Gillian Jacobs) one day at a time – at least for the most part. This structure allows for tighter pacing in episodes and makes the ebbing and flowing of their relationship feel more authentic.
One of the ways the show keeps thing fresh here is in how it leans away from taking the simple way out. Episodes aren’t always the same jumble of setup, complication and conclusion. Some are just about the everyday experience of being in a relationship. Some days are good. Some days are great. Some days are bad. Some days are a joy, others are a mess. In practice, it makes for both less predictable and, ultimately, more authentic storytelling.
It’s also an approach that’s effectively augmented by the series’ fun setting of Los Angeles. Like the first season, there’s some fun commentary on celebrity culture and Gus’ unusual job of teaching a child actor on a terrible supernatural TV series called Witchita. In fact, on the whole, the second season is a lot better at fitting the grooves of the setting and getting the most out of it, rather than just leaning on the novelty.
The first season of LOVE went out of its way to establish Mickey and Gus as characters. Despite the two leads now being in more of a direct relationship, the show continues to spend as much time developing the two as it does exploring the dynamic between them. After all, the show pretty much boils down to their chemistry. Take it or leave it.
In fact, often-times, it leans into the dual-sided nature of its characterizations to the benefit of both sides of the coin. The show never reaches the same pedigree of character pieces on the level of a show like Girls, Louie or Atlanta – but they’re a delight regardless.
The series’ side cast also continues to be an ancillary but fun part of the show. Like the first season, Bertie (Claudia O’Doherty) proves the standout. She makes for a strong contrast to the dry cynicism of the LOVE’s other characters and just a great modern example of an Australian character. Tracie Thoms’ not-so-subtle analogue to Shonda Rhimes and Iris Apatow’s Arya also hold their own.
The second season of LOVE doesn’t do a whole lot to close the gap on comparable series like Girls or You’re The Worst, but manages to hold its own regardless. It never feels like the funniest thing on Netflix but rarely delivers a dull moment in its earnest adventure through modern romance.
Review Score: FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
The entire second season of LOVE will be available globally on Netflix from the 10th of March.