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.

As by now you may have realized, everything in “Love” plays out in near-real time. It creates a perpetual slow burn, but allows the character’s and their motives room to breathe.

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While Gus hangs with an Allstar UCB 401 improv class at his apartment, making up title songs for movies that don’t have title songs–or, as Allen puts it, “The dorkiest thing I’ve ever heard”–Mickey gets ready for her old friend Shaun’s party with Bertie, who’s possibly her only current friend now. While Mickey regales Bertie with tales of wild, topless nights, while conspicuously alone besides her Aussie roommate, Gus’s super lame–but obviously very fun–hang again highlight the differences in our two lead’s lives. Up until this point, Mickey has maintained the upper hand in whatever it is they’re doing, but with “Party In The Hills,” we see the dynamic shift as Gus demonstrates his worth (maybe you’ve heard of the D.E.N.N.I.S. System?) and Mickey confronts ghosts from her past.

Mickey nonchalantly invites Gus to Shaun’s party, refusing to admit her motives behind the text, claiming that “I just think he’d be really fun at a party.” No, you don’t. No one has ever once thought that about Gus. And, lo and behold, he is not especially fun. Showing up embarrassingly on time, he offers to wash off the busy couple’s patio furniture for their guests (doing a frankly above and beyond job of it). His minor gaffes continue to pile up: First, he tattoos “sarcoma” on a guy’s back, later he hides in the bathroom to call Cori after Mickey ditches him. But taking his friend’s advice to chill out a little does him a lot of good, as he inspires a sweet jam sesh to spontaneously generate in the living room, and catches the eye of a partygoer who is so cool that she pulls off wearing a giant t-shirt as a dress.

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Meanwhile, Mickey’s laidback vibe is put to the test by a gauntlet of ex-boyfriends past. First of all, you do not need to say hi to an ex. Ever. After being publicly berated by Dusty for her past discretions, we get the clearest look into her psyche when she declares, “You did shit to me too. That’s called being in a relationship.” If Gus has a problem with being too nice, it’s apparent that Mickey’s track record skews decidedly “mean.” Lying both to Dusty and herself, she hits every bottle hard, drinking to blot out guilt or sadness or, really, any emotion. When she sees Gus cozying up to aforementioned T-Shirt Dress Girl, it all becomes too much to handle. Unable to process her feelings–about Dusty, about Gus, about herself–she attempts to turn the quiet party into a bonafide rager, bellyflopping into the pool in a scene straight out of an AU Almost Famous.

Alone in the bathroom together, it seems Gus and Mickey may finally be something…until a drunk, wet Mickey instead suggests that her two “nice friends” go on a date. They are less than enthused, but agree, because they’re nice.

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It’s a tale as old as time: Boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, girl hasn’t done sufficient emotional work on herself to recognize and accept this love, girl suggests boy and girl’s friend go on date to simultaneously push him away and keep him close. Classic.

Grade: B+

Random Thoughts:

  • Heartbreaking to see 2/3 of Don’t Stop Or We’ll Die on screen.
  • Gus hosing off the patio furniture despite being called “Russ,” and doing an endearingly good job; jamming with the same guy later; tattooing “sarcoma” on someone’s back: These are reasons why Gus is a “catch.”
  • Aw, the Silverlake Resevoir still has water… Although is this supposed to be the Beverly Hills? Something doesn’t add up…the perfect crime…
  • “Saw you in the back of an Instagram photo” woof, the future is here and it is…not great you guys.
  • I need, like, 600 more words to dissect the anatomy of that Bertie/John Early/Joe Mande tequila tasting scene.
  • “Atwater Karl”

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