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Love makes you root against the main characters

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It’s rare that at the end of romantic comedy, I’m actively rooting for the two main characters to stay as far away from each other as humanly possible. But that’s pretty much how “The End Of The Beginning” went. As soon as Mickey checked Instagram, I found myself yelling, “No, no, what are you doing? Stop! Stay away!” That did not happen in, say, Sweet Home Alabama.

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Both Mickey and Gus experience their own shitty days. Mickey has lost Grandpa the cat, and even though she has been a shit friend to Bertie – who confronts her about how much she has been a shit friend – Bertie still helps her look for Grandpa, regardless. With Grandpa gone, though, she experiences the consequences of her actions. She left the door open, the cat ran away. You make bad choices, and bad things happen. These choices lead Mickey to a sex and love addicts meeting. Her appearance gives the tiniest bit of hope that Mickey may actually turn her life around, instead of relying on guys like Gus to keep her safe and her life on track.

Gus continues to meltdown at work because he ultimately can’t get over the fact that he’s not right. He’s spent so much time being self-righteous and convinced he’s doing the nice guy thing that when he’s actually tested, and humbled, he can’t take it. “You’re no Siskel! You’re no Ebert!” he screams at the woman taking notes in the writer’s room. He’s ultimately fired from his post, and the only thing that saves him is Arya’s intervention, a humiliating fall from the high of having his script purchased in “The Table Read.” Arya has nothing to lose, she doesn’t even want to be on Wichita. “I don’t want to work here! I don’t want to work anywhere! I want to raise show dogs!” she yells at Susan. Gus goes from dead man walking to saved by a child. It doesn’t help that Heidi tells Gus that he’s just a set crush. Hey, at least she’s honest.

But this episode, much like “The Table Read” is all about the confrontation at the end. Their meeting at the convenience store is in line with the themes of skewed romantic comedy that Love has been playing with all along. When Mickey says to Gus that she can’t be with him, that she’s just there to essentially apologize for what she’s put him through over the last couple of days, and comes clean, it should be this act of true love, something akin to the …When Harry Met Sally scene where Harry tells Sally how he really feels about her (“I love that you get cold when it’s 71 degrees out. I love that it takes you an hour and a half to order a sandwich…” etc.).

This final scene between Gus and Mickey has happened in countless romantic comedies to countless couples who have spent their previous time together proving why they should be together. Mickey and Gus have spent the previous nine installments proving why they shouldn’t be together. The worst part is that a monumentally depressed Gus isn’t so interested in the sins that Mickey is confessing to committing. He doesn’t care that she’s monumentally fucked up. He only cares about the immediate joy that kissing her will bring. He’s causing her harm, she’s okay with the harm he’s causing. They are together in their misery, until next season at least.

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So how was Love overall? I enjoyed it, partly because, not in spite, of that fact that it was a challenging watch. I appreciated seeing the dark sides of these character types that are so overused that we know there faults and foibles well, but don’t actually ever witness them. Gillian Jacobs and Paul Rust reveled in Mickey and Gus’ awfulness, never pulling back. But I can’t say I will miss them in the interim between season one and two (the show was ordered as part of a two season deal with Netflix). It’s the sweet and lovely Bertie that will make me want to revisit the show. Love may have been happy to exist to in the darkness of two types of characters, it’s the supporting sweetness and light that always made me want to come back for more.

Stray observations

There were a lot of hilarious lines about murder in this episode: “Hurry up, they’re going to kill Grandpa!” “I’m very excited to kill Elise.” “We don’t burn them, we don’t have an incinerator. We don’t even have wifi.”

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Robin Tunney in the sex addicts anonymous meeting made me think that this was just an extension of her Empire Records character.

Apologies for the incongruous picture. Netflix didn’t want have one from the final episode and I just liked this one.

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