Few episodes of Love have worked as well to illustrates the show’s central conceit as “Housesitting.” The romanticized idea of the wild girl getting together with the sweet, staid guy is entirely picked apart in this episode, which was started in full force in “Marty Dobbs.” But instead of ending with a sweet bonding moment of the couple flipping off airplanes, “Housesitting” ends with bitter reality. The first season dealt with how that reality pervaded the courting process, while the second season has, appropriately enough, looked at that bitter reality after the happily ever after kiss. At this point, I can confidently deduce that I enjoy the latter exploration to the former. The stakes are higher, deeper than they were before. I have seen how Gus and Mickey can be successful, how they can work, and I’m more invested in the outcome, even that outcome should be that they are ultimately not together.

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Gus is housesitting at a friend’s gorgeous mansion — for real, this plus Big Little Lies is some major real estate porn — and invites Mickey along, partially so they can play house and partially so they can watch Gus’ big episode of Wichita, and mingle their friends together. Because we’ve spent so much time in the minutia of their relationship, and because it’s been split over two seasons, I’m always sort of shocked when Gus mentions how little time they’ve actually spent together, like he does in “Shrooms.” They’ve only been together a month, and yet it seems like so much longer. When Gus casually mentions the length of his relationship with Mickey, the idea of spending a weekend away together becomes that much more daunting. They might spend the day together regularly, but there’s still escape, there’s still a place to go. But, here, that’s not case.

The episode continues Gus and Mickey’s relationship success, even if that romance involves sitting by a pool and popping bacne. But soon Mickey starts doing Mickey — she starts rifling through the owners’ things and ignores the dogs until they poop on the floor — while Gus starts to nitpick. Isn’t Mickey smoking more than normal? But those are relatively small issues in the grand scheme of a relationship; they can generally be overcome. But it’s the conversation about trophy wives that really spell the great rift in their romantic ideologies. Gus believes that beautiful younger women marry older, gnarled men for some iota of love, while Mickey only see the pragmatic benefit. “I’d rather see the pictures of the wedding night. Choking down that dick? Jesus lord, she earned every cent,” Mickey says about Jerry Hall. Whether Jerry Hall enjoys choking down Rupert Murdoch’s dick or not is where they differ the most. Scratch that, this exchange is where they differ the most:

Gus: If Rupert Murdoch didn’t exist, there wouldn’t be The Simpsons.

Mickey: I’m willing to live with that.

I’m assuming Gus is not.

At the beginning of Gus’ viewing party, Mickey starts to complain to Syd about how Gus treats her sobriety. He’s too invested in it. “Sometimes I feel like I’m his fixer upper … it’s almost like he was getting off at watching me be damaged,” Mickey says. That idea is juxtaposted with what Gus tells Kevin: “”She’s like a puzzle and I love puzzles.” But Mickey’s not a puzzle, she’s a woman, and the idea that Gus could possibly solve this woman is at the root of Mickey’s issue with him. (Kevin’s response is, as always, great: “I like a nice 24 piece puzzle. Mickey seems like a 500 piece puzzle.”)

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But Gus’ interest in Mickey’s sobriety only goes so far. When Andy Dick, reprising his role from the first season, shows up at an inopportune time (did Mickey invite him to the party?), Gus is more concerned with Mickey not watching the episode than her participating in AA sanctioned coaching. This fight was one of the examples of what Esther talked about in her “Marty Dobbs” review: People either hate Mickey or they hate Gus. On one hand, Mickey could have told Andy to wait an hour and dealt with his problems after the episode. On the other, Gus could have been genuine about his interest in her sobriety, putting his feelings aside for her. Neither of them are right; both have the right to argue why their actions made sense to them at the time. But both could make the argument why the other was in the wrong. Where your empathy lies is about perspective and experience of the viewer, and that’s what makes this episode interesting above all

But here’s where Gus discovers that the romantic fantasy of the wild-free spirited woman does not exactly make for the easy, comfortable relationship that he’s used to. “You want to be treated like dirt and ignored because that’s what you’re familiar with,” Gus tells Mickey. That damage he was so interested in mending, the puzzle he was so interested in putting together actually are not just personality novelties. They have real human consequences that affect both Mickey and him, leading to Mickey bailing for the weekend. She’s not willing to fight for what they have just yet.

Stray observations

  • “My mom dug out all the halloween decorations so they’d have witch stuff everywhere.” “Want to fuck outside?”
  • “I can talk shit with anyone, but popping someone’s pimples…”
  • “Do you hate that I smoke?” ” Do you want me to hate it?”
  • “I feel like the kind of woman who is great at dinner parties but probably is a little bit racist.”
  • “i’m barely exaggerating.”

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