[This is a review of Love season 2, episode 1. There will be SPOILERS.]
The Judd Apatow-produced Netflix comedy Love may not have made a big splash last year compared to the streaming service’s higher profile shows, but it certainly made a strong first impression in its rookie season as a refreshingly authentic look at a modern relationship — all the ups, downs, uncertainty, awkwardness, excitement, and intimacy included. For millennials especially, the series scored points for its honesty in navigating courtship in the 21st century while highlighting how small misunderstandings and a general lack of communication can prevent a deeper connection.
This reflection of real life also served as a reminder that things rarely play out like they do in Hollywood romances. So, even when season 1 ended with a seemingly heartfelt reunion between Mickey (Gillian Jacobs) and Gus (Paul Rust), we knew the two wouldn’t simply jump to living happily ever after. There was a clear sense that the largest hurdles in their relationship were still ahead, something that proved true in the earliest moments of Love‘s season 2 premiere, ‘On Lockdown.’
Picking up literally seconds after the events of season 1, the episode quickly reinforces the reality of Gus and Mickey’s situation. Having just come clean about her alcohol, drug and sex addictions and after outlining her plan to take a year off from dating, Mickey isn’t actually ready to be in a serious committed relationship with Gus. And despite Gus’s best efforts to get her to open up more about her problems, she shows she isn’t ready to fully trust him either.
Yet, in subtle ways, Mickey shows that she’s still interested. Even though she’s not prepared to get deep with Gus about her issues, she still agrees to go with him on an impromptu date (of sorts). This kicks off a long night together, and although she continues to repeat her desire to go home and be alone, Mickey can’t help but have a little fun getting involved in hijinks with Gus as the two attempt to evade the police cordon at his apartment building. It’s moments like these that the show does a great job of conveying Mickey’s complexity; she doesn’t necessarily want to be alone, despite the image she’s trying to project, but she’s also afraid to be open and vulnerable.
Like in season 1, the natural performances and the palpable chemistry between the leads are what sell these character moments the most. Jacobs is an absolute standout as the guarded and self-loathing former bad girl, while Rust more than holds his own as the well-intentioned, but naïve nice guy. And together, the two form an unlikely, yet somehow relatable couple that becomes easier to root for even as their relationship seems doomed to fail.
Of course, the effortless performances also lend to the comedy, which continues to strike an impressive balance between absurdity and groundedness; finding humor in both explosive and embarrassing moments, as well as small, quiet ones. In this episode in particular, laughs definitely came from both ends of that spectrum. In one moment, we had Gus trivialize Mickey’s addictions by comparing her struggles to what it’s like trying to avoid carbs on the Atkins Diet. Then later, he was getting tackled by police, even after identifying himself as someone who really respects the job they do.
Even based on what little we’ve seen from season 2 so far, it appears Love hasn’t missed a beat. So, we can reasonably expect more of the same raw energy, endearing (and not-so endearing) character flaws and relatable humor that made season 1 such an unexpected treat. Though, we should also note that this could be one of the lighter episodes of the season, because as Gus and Mickey’s relationship becomes more serious in future episodes, the tension will naturally build to points of heavy and necessary conflict.
At this point, what’s perhaps most interesting about the series is that it’s not clear that Gus and Mickey are actually right for each other. Like most people in young relationships, they still have plenty to learn about one another, but most of all, plenty to learn about themselves. We’re certainly looking forward to going on the journey with Gus and Mickey, so long as there are plenty of laughs along the way, too.
All 12 episodes of Love season 2 are available to stream now on Netflix.