Welcome to The A.V. Club’s Love binge-watch. From Friday, February 19 through Sunday, February 21, A.V. Club contributor Shelby Fero will be watching and reviewing every episode of Netflix’s new romantic comedy. You can watch and comment along with her here, or chime in on the individual episode reviews. For those watching the show at a more moderate pace, reviews by Molly Eichel will run daily starting Monday, February 22.

It’s finally here: Mickey and Gus’s first official date. The two prepare in their own ways, with Gus chatting away to the clerk at the car wash–where he’s over-preparing in his excitement for the evening (a very different look than his apologetic “my car smells like McDonald’s” that he offered Bertie.) Mickey underplays her feelings for Gus to Bertie and her neighbor, refusing to convey the depth of her emotions. It’s a familiar defense mechanism; who says they’re excited when they’re actually excited? What if it goes wrong? You’re going to open yourself up to that kind of embarrassment? Let everyone judge you for foolishly hoping for the best? If you’re Mickey, like Hell you’ll let that happen. But her feelings for Gus are palpable through the denials, and it’s with giddiness that the two approach the night.

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Getting sex out of the way on a date isn’t the worst thing. If you still want to hang out after, you know you’re thinking with your head instead of your endocrine system. And they do still want to hang–Mickey prefers staying in, but she’s willing to get out of bed in respect of Gus’s plans. It’s here that the night begins its slow devolution, as Gus surprises Mickey with a night at The Magic Castle (which, by the way, is invite only, and after six years in Los Angeles, I still cannot decide how I feel about that).

Don’t get me wrong, Mickey has some real shit to deal with. Could she be more polite in general? Sure. Could she remember that insulting people’s interests in jest is still insulting? Of course! But that’s not Mickey, and–from where I stand–Gus is more at fault for the worst parts of the night than he believes. He refuses to compromise his view of how a date should go, and how his date should act. He’s so psyched up to take her to The Magic Castle that he willfully ignores the parts of Mickey that might not exactly gel with the strict castle rules. At least she’s trying: It would be fun to follow an overly-excited patron around all night, to enjoy magic through her eyes. Mickey’s inability to be anything but herself lands her in hot water constantly, but, on a date, we’re supposed to be ourselves. Unlike Bertie and Gus, Mickey won’t play along when she thinks something’s dumb, but she’s not actively trying to ruin Gus’s night either. It’s not brattiness that keeps her from memorizing the magician’s card–she honestly didn’t think to do it. Instead of rolling with these minor, kind of hilarious, setbacks, Gus grows increasingly embarrassed by her actions. He begrudgingly breaks the dress code and gives her his jacket during the show, despite being the one to pick out her flimsy outfit in the first place.

For Gus, the “perfect date” is what’s at stake here, not Mickey’s actual enjoyment of the evening. It’s not “nice” of Gus to plan a rigid date for someone he barely knows, and he takes all of Mickey’s ribbing to heart. And Gus’s look of discomfort as Mickey gets herself off with a vibrator encapsulates his discomfort with Mickey’s brand of selfishness. It’s never clear when she’s acting out of admirable independence, or total self-service.

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Grade: B+

Random Thoughts:

  • Eyyy! John Ennis
  • I gotta know how you guys are feeling/seeing Mickey, by now. If I were skinnier and unmedicated, I think we’d act almost 100% the same, so a lot of the “shittier” things she does don’t strike me as that bad. I get why someone wouldn’t want their date shitting all over a thing they like during a date, intellectually, except that to fake politeness is the height of insult to me. If I’m pretending to like the shitty 80s metal band you like you can be sure that I’m not trying to keep this relationship going in a real way. Mickey’s insults are sometimes borne from insecurity or embarrassment, which is cruel to me, but other times she’s simply delighting in every facet of Gus, even the dorky ones. It’s Gus who takes them as a personal attack. Ok, now I’m really projecting here.
  • “Um. Pina Colada?” is the only appropriate response to a 30-something year old man asking you what the sexiest air freshener scent is.

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