Any discussion of the British Netflix series Lovesick must first acknowledge that it originally premiered as Scrotal Recall. The former name was a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, it certainly raised some eyebrows. On the other, it completely misrepresented the show, which happens to be the story of an overly emotional bloke who is diagnosed with chlamydia. Lovesick—while still perhaps overly reliant on a pun—is more fitting. Not just because it’s not as crass, but also because it’s a good representation of how the show makes its viewers feel. Upon finishing the second season, which premiered on Netflix earlier in November, my heart broke.
The first episode of the entire series establishes that this show is not just about a man with an STI. It’s also makes it clear that it’s not interested in his sexual exploits, so much as it is about his quest for love and how that relates to one person in particular: Evie. The first season ended on a major cliffhanger for the two of them. Evie, about to get married, is having a drink with Dylan when their friend Luke bursts in and tells Evie that Dylan loves her. It’s an ending that leaves Dylan the vulnerable party, though Evie herself is also experiencing a complicated onslaught of emotions. She finally has confirmation of what she’s long wanted to hear, but only as she’s moving on her with her life.
Eight episodes later, the action is paused in a very similar position, except Dylan is now the one content in his relationship, and Evie is left single and heartbroken. It’s a frustrating conclusion, but not necessarily a bad or unsatisfying one. The new installments only deepen the sense that Evie and Dylan are fated because flashback structure gives the audience even more insight into their history. We see their initial hookup—born out of disappointing party dates—and how Dylan’s initial eagerness to turn it into something more sends the less-romantic Evie running. We learn that Dylan sleeps with Evie’s sister by accident. We understand how Evie comes to articulate her true feelings for Dylan. If this all seems a little confusing, well, that’s one of the show’s faults. Its time hopping can make the chronology overly complicated to follow. However, as annoying as it can be sometimes, learning the information piecemeal is rewarding. Dylan and Evie’s story isn’t an especially novel one. It’s a variation on traditional rom-com formulas, but what makes it special is the way it’s told.
In the present day timeline, Dylan is pursing a relationship with Abigail, a bartender he sleeps with in the pilot at his friend Angus’ wedding. It’s easy to root for them. Calm and funny Abigail is a good foil for Dylan’s amorous neuroticism. That is, until she has villain potential: A flashback reveals that Evie and Abigail actually meet before Abigail and Dylan do. Abigail is working the bar the night the gang first visits her hotel to sample it as a potential venue. Evie, sleepless, comes downstairs for a drink, and the two end up bonding about their guy troubles. Evie confesses that she has been thinking about her best friend, and helps Abigail break up with a clingy chef. If not for a pissed off concierge, who throws away a note Evie leaves for her, the two may have become good friends.
So did Abigail know that Dylan was the one that Evie was talking about? Well, no. Years later Dylan takes Abigail to Angus’ divorce party to introduce her to his pals. There she and Evie recognize one another, and Abigail realizes that Dylan was the one she was talking about all those months back. But there’s no blow-up, and Abigail wasn’t knowingly sabotaging anything: The two resolve any conflict with understanding. Abigail only gets angry when she comes to learn that Dylan lied to her about just how many times he and Evie were together. During the finale’s last moments Dylan comes to figure out why Abigail is devastated, and they reconcile. Meanwhile, Evie admits that she has called her wedding off. She is, after all, still in love with Dylan.
I’m not sure how much longer the show can tease out this will they/won’t they, but it has done a great job of making it even more interesting, two seasons in—not an easy feat. This is because Lovesick is more about time than it is about relationships. It understands how people come in and out of one another’s lives, and how every encounter is meaningful, regardless of the detours it may inspire. Take, for instance, Luke: He’s initially established as a lothario. Turns out his desire to fuck around was a result of past sadness. In the long run, it doesn’t matter whether or not Evie and Dylan finally get together. That may be too neat for this series, but it’s also the reason it’s worth watching.