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.
Ah. Well. Hmm. Ok. Just… give me a second, here. Hoooo boy.
Oh guys. Oh no. For a show titled Love, every episode feels like watching the slowest, brutalist, emotion-based MMA fight in history. I’ve started a mental checklist of “dick moves” for Gus, Mickey, and the vague concept of “the universe.” Mickey takes a commanding lead, slamming Gus mere seconds into the first round with a “sounds dumb,” after he invites her to a title song jam sesh that night. But a partial point has to go to The Universe, as we see Mickey smile in delight the second Gus leaves the room crestfallen. To be clear, she’s not happy because he’s dismayed–she doesn’t even notice, since eye contact seems to be on her “To Not Do” list.
In a down mood from Mickey’s tepid response, Gus shuffles through the workday. He agrees to help Heidi–the actress whose career he miraculously helped–run through lines, and, like any red-blooded American male, lets himself get schmoozed into inviting her over that night. Like any red-blooded American female, Mickey spends the day analyzing the date over and over with Shaun at a nail salon (although, in anti-romcom fashion, the two are unapologetically mouthy the entire time). She worries that she’s been too mean to Gus, and puzzles over why he hasn’t texted her yet. Isn’t that the whole point of boning a nice guy for once? Of course, the “two” way aspect of a relationship continues to elude her, as she never picks up the phone to text him either, deciding she’ll just see him at the party.
It’s the jam session where it all comes to a head. Heidi stands in sharp contrast to Mickey, embodying everything Mickey finds wrong with herself. Heidi is pretty, sweet, willing to put herself out there; Mickey’s all sharp angles, retreating into her shell and lashing out when threatened. Mickey can’t compete with this actress: If Heidi is an immaculately dressed storefront display, Mickey is corrugated cardboard pasted over with “under construction” signs. She’s genuinely hurt by Heidi’s presence, and Gus doesn’t make it any easier. Feeling guilty and confused, he lashes back in his own, passive-aggressive way. The discomfort and tension wouldn’t be this pronounced if there weren’t some genuine hurt feelings between the two. Cori’s the only one with some taste, here, as she says goodbye to Mickey.
After begging Bertie to act as a lifeline, Mickey bails on the party before her roommate gets there (again, the realism of this show is staggering: those apartment complexes are a living nightmare). One more for the “Mickey” column. But the mix up allows for a meet-cute of Bertie’s own, as she re-acquaints herself with Gus’s friend/“Constructive Ham Guy” (Mike Mitchell) from her focus group. After everyone leaves, Heidi emerges from the bathroom, having purposefully stayed behind the crowd. Her and Gus end up having the “bad kind of” crazy sex, while Mickey obsesses over the guy she maintains means nothing to her. It’s a heartbreaking case of not miscommunication, per se, but no communication at all.
- *35 minutes of sustained hyperventilation*