For those who haven’t yet watched Love—a sharp Netflix comedy about modern dating in L.A. co-created by Judd Apatow, Lesley Arfin, and Paul Rust, who also stars in the show along with Gillian Jacobs—do so now. The first season of the show skewers romance, laying bare all of its beautiful, disgusting guts. The second season premieres Thursday at midnight on the streaming service; binge at your own discretion.
Love is centered on the potential romance of two characters who meet cute at an Echo Park convenience store: free-spirited Mickey (Jacobs), a program manager at a radio station with a laundry list of addictions (alcoholism, drugs, sex, and yes, love); and Gus (Rust), an uptight, on-set tutor for a supernatural teen period drama whose ex thinks he’s too nice. Their would-be romance is plagued, however, by pitfalls ranging from missed signals (Mickey sets Gus up with her roommate) and awkward dates (Gus takes Mickey to the famed Magic Castle but she’s unimpressed). There’s awkward sex, sure, but that’s balanced by moments of genuine catharsis―like Mickey opening up about her problems to Gus in the season one finale at that same convenience store. It’s the kind of show where you might find yourself rolling your eyes at the characters’ questionable actions one minute and rooting for them the next.
On Monday night at the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan I watched a preview of Season Two of Love, followed by a post-screening discussion with Apatow, Rust, and Jacobs, moderated by Saturday Night Live‘s Vanessa Bayer. Love may not be particularly Jewy, but Apatow does manage to sneak in a few references. In season one, for instance, the young actress that Gus tutors, played by Apatow’s daughter, Iris, makes a comment about an Orthodox Jewish accountant. Apatow’s Jewish sensibilities might have an even greater influence on this season’s writing―he announced during the talk that one of the stars of Barry Levinson’s Diner will play Mickey’s father.
Jewish verve aside, if the preview (which, I should note, was not the first episode of season two) was any indication, this season features some classic Apatovian antics―tender moments set in relief against sophomoric hijinks.
When we re-meet Love’s lovelorn Angelenos, they seem somewhat settled into the rhythms of coupledom (they agree to order takeout, then make out). As Jacobs described during the roundtable, “They’re two people who feel unlovable at their core and found someone who can affirm them for the first time.”
A quiet night in quickly escalates into stoner screwball territory when Mickey unearths a bag of shrooms in her effort to expunge her motley collection of mind-altering substances. She convinces Gus, her nebbishy foil, to partake (she’ll stay sober and be his trip guru, she assures him). Mickey’s outgoing Australian roommate, Bertie (Claudia O’Doherty), and Bertie’s boyfriend, Randy (Mike Mitchell), more eagerly agree to ingest the drugs.
The episode reaches its climax when Randy sees a coyote in Mickey’s backyard and decides to follow it down the sloping streets of Silver Lake. Their madcap pursuit of the creature, soundtracked with a sonorous ballad straight out of a western, leads them to a nice-looking house that Randy insists on breaking into through a window.
“This house is pretty basic,” Gus deadpans―and it is, at least in comparison to Mickey’s colorful boho abode, with its assortment of plants and cozy accouterments.
In addition to being riotous fun, the preview contained one of the most touching scenes in the series to date. Gus, a cinephile, praises Mickey’s beauty by comparing her to an Old Hollywood actress, and proclaims, in turn, “I know I’m not one of the beautiful people.” Rust articulates the line by gesturing broadly to his nose.
Although neither Rust nor his character is Jewish, his Semitic appearance has been something of a running joke in Hollywood. During the roundtable, he told a favorite anecdote: The story of how he met Arfin, now his wife. They were both at the same party, and Arfin asked Sarah Silverman whether or not he was a member of the tribe. Silverman told her, “If he’s not, his face should sue God.”