By Murphy Kenefick, Columnist
At this point in the streaming business, Netflix is working its way towards a monopoly. There seems to be a new season or series of original content every week—so much so that it’s almost impossible to consume it all. But last year, when Judd Apatow (“Knocked Up,” “Trainwreck”) debuted the first season of “Love” right after Valentine’s Day, I was immediately interested. The show revolves around Mickey and Gus, two individuals so messy that they’re only bound to make an even bigger one with each other. The first season deals with their separate lives more than their relationship, presenting an interesting deviation from the typical romantic comedy fare.
But after the somewhat-cliffhanger of the season one finale, “Love” is back a year later with 12 episodes as opposed to the previous 10. At first, I was excited to learn that there was going to be more content this year, but then as the show got going, I realized that this was a poor choice. The show presents a very casual look at relationships and life in general, featuring a huge ensemble cast, a multitude of minor comedic situations, and the occasional moment of love itself. With this longer season, instead of fleshing out new storylines, it often took more time to meander and rely on previously established characters and jokes. Even if these recurring things are funny, i.e. making theme songs for movies, arguing with neighbors and texting miscommunications, the real heart of the show isn’t as present as usual. The adjustment back into the world of the show takes much longer than it should, and only a real fan of the first season (like myself) would have patience for it. But, in this day and age, it doesn’t take a lot of effort to sit back and let the next episode begin.
It isn’t until episode seven that the entire series makes a sharp turn for the better. The frivolous, introductory stories take a backseat and we’re finally able to really focus on the subjects that actually matter in the way that they were presented in the first season. We see the harsh realities of Mickey’s alcoholism, Gus’ co-dependence and various other issues that resonate. If what I described doesn’t really sound like a fun comedy, well…that’s the magic of the latter half of this season. Somehow, the writers manage to make each of those topics accessible and lace them with enough humor to make them enjoyable as well. The characters are empathetic, never irritating, and it’s through these difficult subjects that we get to know them even better.
By the end, I only want to participate more in the banal, yet bizarre, lives of the two central characters, along with the dozens of supporting ones that have cemented themselves into the story. It’s all endearing, entertaining and ultimately optimistic despite the plethora of obstacles the two have to overcome. If you’re looking for your next worthwhile, easy-going, well-written Netflix original, I would recommend “Love,” especially for the last few episodes. Knowing Netflix’s new accelerated rate of production, this show is likely to continue for a while, and I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next.