The Buzz: Why we love hate-watching 'Love'
Thank God for Netflix. The streaming service brought us Mike Birbiglia’s new standup special Thank God for Jokes the same time it brought us the second season of Love. This just proves that, no matter the quality of their content, Netflix is consistently putting out bingeable material – even if we sometimes binge shows for the wrong reasons. Check out our reviews below:
Love season 2 review: There is a moment, early in the second season of Judd Apatow’s Netflix original Love, where characters converse about watching a bad television show just to see how bad it can get. It is the type of stupidly ironic and/or hipster thing the writers of the show mistakenly believe millennials enjoy, right alongside spontaneous trips to the beach despite not liking water, or writing title songs for movies that don’t have them. Maybe, in a rare moment of accuracy, the writers got that one observation correct – I love to hate-watch cringeworthy shows like Love, for example. The show never disappoints; there are plenty of cringes to have.
While improved from the first, season two is still trying to cajole audiences into rooting for its two irredeemable – at times infuriating – lead characters to be a couple; despite the obvious toxicity that oozes out whenever they are together. Co-creator and writer Paul Rust plays Gus, a smarmy, nerdy guy living in Los Angeles. He is uninteresting at best and a complete asshole at worst, which is most of the time. But the writers do not want us to notice – or maybe they don't notice themselves. Gillian Jacobs plays Mickey, an addict of everything she enjoys: sex, drugs, relationships, cigarettes – you name it. Wide-eyed and spunky, Jacobs plays her character to better result than Rust, though is still saddled down by the outright silliness some of the scripts call for.
The problem with this show is both main characters are unwatchable. Just when you start to warm up to Mickey, she does something to make you hate her again. In an early episode, she sabotages a perfectly fine dinner party because she is the only single guest there, and millennials can not handle insecurities, remember? Meanwhile, it is clear Rust does not want the writers besmirching his character too much. Rust, in a clear power trip, throws an endless array of hot Hollywood babes his way, even though his character is intentionally a jerk and would have trouble finding someone have as attractive in the real world – let alone someone as beautiful as Jacobs.
For the second season in a row, Gus ruins a career-defining opportunity for himself by having a temper tantrum in his workplace. When moments like these happen in the show, you think to yourself – this is the point. We are not supposed to root for these characters until they eventually realize their errors and come around. Two excruciating seasons in, and we are still waiting on that moment. In the CW’s massively underrated Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, we follow intentionally bad characters as they start and end relationships with each other, and we root for them to break up. This show is the opposite of that – we are rooting for the characters to break up, but the writers are trying to strong-arm us into wanting the opposite. It is the point of the show to not like either character, but where is the payoff?
Shows like It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia are able to make us root for intentionally bad characters. Each of that show’s characters have exaggerated flaws that they acknowledge and own. Love, on the other hand, has trouble giving its characters flaws other than they’re-millennials-and-don’t-know-what-they’re-doing-isn’t-that-so-relatable syndrome. The show is an awkward blend of over-the-top circumstances mixed with a feeble attempt at being relatable. It sells itself as a realistic examination of modern millennial romance, and that is its biggest flaw.
There is one episode where Mickey gets authentic character development. Her father, who goes by the full name Marty Dobbs (played by Daniel Stern) is in LA for a day while traveling, and visits his daughter for the first time in a few years. Here we get some dirt on Mickey’s character (her father is a jerk, but also an older male version of her), and Jacobs is finally given the opportunity to exercise her acting chops. It is the one episode that gives us reason to root for either character, and is done pretty well.
But still, that is one out of 12 episodes this season. I can not wait for season three. I’d love to tear that one apart as well.
Mike Birbiglia’s Thank God for Jokes: Mike Birbiglia is the guy you saw in that one movie who was pretty funny and then you forgot he existed. Thank God for Jokes is the comedian’s third standup, but probably the first you have watched. And it is worth the wait – Birbiglia defies comedians who rely on dynamic volume and expression for laughs, playing it straight as a down-to-earth dude who just happens to make zany observations.
Above all, Birbiglia is a sweetheart. He dedicates a decent amount of time to making cat puns, then making jokes about him and his wife loving cat puns. He is not a mean comedian, even though he shrewdly points out that nowadays it is impossible for someone to make a joke without somebody else getting offended (don’t worry, he’s not overtly political). His tendency to deliver punch lines as whispers rather than declarations speaks to his character; he is not the loudest or most memorable entertainer, but when he has your attention, he really draws you in. It is almost always worth listening.