Most real-life love stories don’t have the fairytale ending often portrayed in television, which is why it’s probably a good thing Netflix’s Love has concluded after only three seasons.
The first two seasons focused on the struggles of Mickey (Gillian Jacobs) and Gus (Paul Rust) — Mickey’s battle with alcoholism and sex addiction and Gus’ irritating inability to be anything but the “nice guy”.
Viewers get to see the two attempt a normal, mature relationship while also trying to navigate adulthood. Jacobs does an incredible job of being chaotic yet charming and while Gus’s lack of confidence and victim playing can be tiring, Rust’s performance is convincing and even painfully relatable at times.
Through a series of awkward relationship firsts, including road-trips, friend’s weddings, couple getaways and meeting families, executive-producer Judd Apatow delivers a serious, almost cynical take on modern love. Apatow still provides laugh-out-loud moments similar to his other works such as Knocked Up and Trainwreck, while also identifying some of the darkest parts of a relationship.
Season three’s utilisation of supporting characters is the best in the show’s history, especially in the case of Claudia O’Doherty’s character Bertie. Mickey’s delightfully awkward Australian roommate was long-overdue for more screen-time, and watching her finally find the confidence to ditch a comfortable, but very unhealthy relationship with Randy (Mike Mitchell) is the perfect way to conclude her character’s story.
One of the most powerful episodes of the season focuses just on Bertie and her connection with Randy’s friend Chris (Chris Witaske). When everyone else is unable to make time for her birthday celebrations, Chris takes Bertie on a birthday adventure where she realises that her fear of hurting Randy’s feelings is impeding on her own chances to be happy with Chris. It is simultaneously the purest and most heartbreaking situation to observe play out.
Vanessa Bayer also guest-stars as Gus’ recently divorced ex-girlfriend and delivers a hilarious yet crushing performance that differs greatly from her goofy, slap-stick comedy niche.
Outside of the romantic realm, the final season provides a realistic glimpse into friendships as well. Mickey has an eye-opening experience whilst trying to convince an old college pal she is sober and stable now. Following a disastrous evening trying to reconnect with her old friend, Mickey finally comes to the conclusion that people grow apart, and the only person she needs to prove her changes to is herself.
Messy family dynamics are represented in the episode “Anniversary Party” where Mickey accompanies Gus to his parent’s 40th anniversary celebration in South Dakota. Gus’ inevitable breakdown in front of his entire family following a week of trying to convince them he’s killing it in adulthood, while very uncomfortable, is the most honest and likable his character has ever been.
One thing that remained constant throughout the entire series and continued into the finale, was the sweet, indie-inspired soundtrack featuring nostalgic ballads from the likes of The Velvet Underground and Fleetwood Mac paired with more recent folk releases such as the Avett Brothers and Jakob Dylan.
While there are still cracks and faults in Mickey and Gus’s relationship, season three ends in a defining, transcendent moment between the two that leaves the viewer with a sense of comfort and hope for whatever the rest of their lives hold.