In a way, I wish that “It Begins” and “One Long Day” were actually one episode rather than two separate entities because it makes both leads, neither of whom are traditional rom-com staples, that much more palatable. A lot has been made about how Love is a show that is designed to be binged and “One Long Day” coupled with “It Begins” is an excellent case for how the two episodes are viewed better together than as on their own. This episode is not just about getting to Mickey and Gus together and seeing why they could potentially work as a couple, but also about getting to know them as characters. It helps that the episode is structured as a (low stakes) journey. They go to multiple places and have multiple mini-adventures so it seems like they’re doing a lot more together than they are. Mickey and Gus were not saintly in the first episode of the series, and they were sometimes even greatly unlikable, but that certainly felt purposeful. But it also made me hesitant about following them. Am I really going to like watching these inherently miserable people fall in miserable love with each other other? But “One Long Day” takes away a lot of that hesitation. These people are affable, we just didn’t get to see it yet. And, the point is, they are more affable because they are paired together for the entire episode, going on a an sorta-adventure around their Los Angeles neighborhood.

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One of the things that I was particularly struck by in this episode, and becomes increasingly apparent as I watch more of Love, is how it plays with this idea of the rom com lead. Everyone deserves love but in the movies that Gus tosses out of Mickey’s car window, neither Micky nor Gus — or really the types of characters they portray — are represented by the two who achieve it. But Mickey and Gus could fall into these tropes in two ways. The first is they are traditionally the best friend friend role — Gus the nerdy sweetheart, Mickey the rough around the edges chick with a bad ’tude who may say some sassy thing to the traditional ingenue. But the other is that they are traditionally rom com leads but slightly skewed.

Gus is a take on the nice guy, but as Natalie points out he was too nice, too understanding to the point where she wasn’t being heard. Natalie puts it best: “Your kindness becomes hostility.” I really love this idea, that he was so nice that she could not even break up with him without lying. We’re so accustomed to hating a girl like Natalie when it comes to this genre because she’s the cause of the lead’s sadness, but there’s this whole other side of the relationship that we didn’t get to see in the first episode — Gus’ oppressive niceness. “Don’t be a fucking hero,” Mickey says to Gus when he tries to let her off the hook about the cigs and coffee, immediately shutting down this niceness, Mickey has these moments of being a free spirit-type who gives no fucks and can open up Gus’ world. But she’s a stoner, she’s ill-tempered, she’s kind of a bitch, and I say what with legitimate and genuine affection for Mickey. So it’s not that these character don’t exactly fit the mold of the traditional rom-com, but they are the bizarro versions of them — a stretched out and distorted.

But also as “One Long Day” proves, this is very much following the same path of a traditional rom com as well, just stretched out. In the first episode, we learned who Mickey and Gus were apart from each other and they had their meet-cute. Now we are learning who they are together. The only difference is that this would have happened in the first quarter of a rom-com, rather than having the benefit of languishing in the every day and the normal. That’s one of the aspects of Love that I like: It allows itself to revel in the boring everyday. And I don’t mean boring in the sense that the show is boring, but boring in the sense that something isn’t happening all the time. All conversations don’t have to have meaning or give us great insight into the people we’re watching.

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Take Mickey and Gus hotboxing Mickey’s car. We get from that scene that Mickey smokes pot, Gus is not used to it, but that’s something that could have been garnered from their characters before. Instead, they go back and forth, having a conversation that really just establishes their rhythm together, rather than forces some great insight or moves the plot along. Instead, it allows them to build a rapport. But at the same time, it still feels very much rooted in the structure of a movie, not like a TV show. It’s still a rom com, stretched out over several segments that are still meant to be watched in one chunk. I liked “One Long Day” more than “It Begins” but I’m not sure this sense of extended movie bodes well for future episodes.

Stray observations

  • I was obsessed with the VH1 show The Pickup Artist for a while and read Neil Strauss’ The Game because I was kind of fascinated by how PUA were teaching men basic social lessons rather than some forbidden secrets. Anyway, I giggled when it occurred to me that Mickey and Gus were totally location shifting us — going to multiple places so the date felt longer and more meaningful.
  • “Tell your mom to go fuck yourself” was the biggest laugh of the series so far.
  • Gillian Jacobs yelling “Yeah! Go make lasagna with your mom and leave us alone!” about the special features of Goodfellas was another highlight.

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