Judd Apatow takes his comedy train to Netflix, collaborating with comedian Paul Rust for new show Love.
It’s the story of a boy (played by Rust) and a girl (Community’s Gillian Jacobs) who are going through their own variously screwed up lives and cross paths by chance. It sounds like the set up for another familiar romance, but this show that doesn’t really play by those normal genre rules.
Instead it’s a fairly low key look at relationships, romantic and otherwise, and more of a realistic glimpse at two people who aren’t really sure where their life is going. He’s an on set tutor on a popular TV series while she’s a producer on a radio show and as they spend time with each other, and apart, we slowly get more insight into what they’re about.
There are definitely shades of Apatow here in the setups and the tone of the comedic moments but there’s less focus on the gags, to the benefit of the story – something Aptaow seems to have forgotten in recent years. It’s mostly a drama with some funny moments, something which works well across ten 30 minute episodes.
Rust’s Gus is an interesting character because he moves past the nerd stereotype. Don’t get me wrong, he’s plenty nerdy and I couldn’t quite get on board with the parties where he meets up with his friends to invent theme tunes to popular movies but he isn’t defined by the typical aspects of that character.
He can be strong and assertive, and while his predilection is towards kindness and honesty there’s darker layer which comes out from time to time. And while he’s obviously interested in pursuing Jacobs’ Mickey from the outset, he doesn’t come off as a creep, at least for the most part.
Rust is great, which is probably not that surprising in a series he created and wrote for himself, presumably playing a version of himself, but Jacobs doesn’t get quite as much room to develop. She’s a young woman with problems which are realistically teased out very slowly.
That aspect is interesting to watch but the performance is a bit slight, sinking into bitchy resting face a little too often. There are layers to be found though as well as some surprisingly dark material and she certainly settles into the role over the 10 episodes.
Love isn’t quite what I expected from the Apatow brand – there isn’t a lot of ad-libbing nor much crude humour and many episodes would be more easily characterised as drama than comedy – but there’s a sense of entertaining realism to the way the relationships progress, and a some strong supporting talent. My favourite is definitely Australian actress Claudia O'Doherty who gets to really shine during an awkward date.
Forget the Apatow name, Love is its own thing and an engaging mix of drama, complicated relationships, familiar failures, naughty bits and light comedy and its well worth checking out on Netflix.
All 10 episodes of season 1 of Love will be on Netflix on the 19th of February 2016. A 12 episode second season is already in the works.