Love, the romantic comedy starring Gillian Jacobs and Paul Rust debuted its third and final season Friday on Netflix. I have some thoughts on the final season — with full spoilers — followed by a conversation with Judd Apatow, who co-created the show with Rust and Lesley Arfin, coming up just as soon as I insist on a mutual breakup…
The first two years of Love often played as the story of a couple who didn’t really belong together. At first, it seemed that Mickey was the problem, with her addictions to sex and alcohol and drugs, and then it seemed like neurotic, temperamental people pleaser Gus was the bigger obstacle to the two of them making it work. And because, as Apatow notes below, the vision for the series involved covering “all the moments that most shows skip over” when dramatizing relationships, there could be periods when even when things were healthy between Mickey and Gus, something felt off because of the amount of time we were lingering on this moment or that.
Season three mostly chronicles a healthy period in the relationship — which itself provides license to focus on some of the show’s funny supporting characters, primarily Claudia O’Doherty’s Bertie — until late in the run when a visit to see Gus’s family in South Dakota seems like the thing that will finally wreck things for good, because Mickey thinks Gus believes she’ll never truly get her act together. Instead, Gus finally acknowledges that he’s been much more screwed up all along, and that honesty’s enough to both bring them back together and inspire them to get married, which they do at the very end of the finale after several fits and starts.
The season, like the rest of the run, is shaggy and occasionally too mortifying to watch scenes in one sitting, but I also felt by the end like Apatow and company had put in the work to make the conclusion of Mickey and Gus’s story feel earned, and not like a happy ending for its own sake. That’s the downside and upside to applying the Breaking Bad-style approach of dramatizing the in-between moments to a romantic comedy, but the payoff ultimately felt worth it.
I spoke with Apatow about the ending — and about the fact that he gets to conclude his shows properly now, when he couldn’t always do that earlier in his career — why a Freaks and Geeks sequel series is unlikely for reasons beyond the logistics of getting everyone back together, and more.
When you and Paul and Lesley first came up with the idea for the show, how long did you think it might run?
I don’t know. I think that we wanted to feel like we covered a major movement in the relationship. But, I don’t think we had a specific vision, or even an end, in mind. We were interested in the idea of showing all the moments that most shows skip over. So if they didn’t talk in between their first and second dates, we would just show all the things that happened when they weren’t talking. If they broke up, we would show what their lives were like during the breakup. Things like that.