LOVE ON NETFLIX: A Review

When I saw Netflix released a new show, I got excited. Nothing new about that. Netflix originals usually end up being the best shows because they have no filter and they're really not trying to please anyone. Not really targeting any specific demographics, desperately trying to get good ratings.

Therefore, I went into Love with an open mind.

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Yet it was very clear to me that the entire show was about the romanticization of a manic pixie dream girl. A manic pixie dream girl is a term coined by film critic Nathan Rabin. They're described as, "that bubbly, shallow cinematic creature that exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures."

Manic pixie dream girls literally exist for male pleasure. The girls usually had a hard childhood, a past of bad relationships, a history of not fitting in, or some bad mental illness or addiction. The disturbing thing is that their male counterparts don't actually love them, but they love the idea of them. They love how they make them feel.

Their male counterparts romanticize these women and their brutal pasts instead of actually trying to help them. THAT, my friends, is the problem with the manic pixie dream girl.

And that is exactly what Love is.

Gus (Paul Rust) uses Mickey (Gillian Jacobs) and her drug addiction / mental illness to his advantage when it makes him feel dangerous, yet when she is in dyer need of his help, he is nowhere to be seen. She is nothing but a boost to his self-esteem, an object to make him feel better about himself.

So, let me get this straight: Paul Rust not only is a creator of the show Love, but he is credited as a writer. And quite obviously, he is the leading man in the show. Fair enough.

The attractiveness gap in Hollywood has always been terrible, but this show is the EPITOME OF THAT. Every single woman on the show throws themselves at unattractive, unemployed, boring men without even thinking. Many critics state this show shows relationships in a very realistic sense, but that would never happen in real life. Women actually think for themselves in the real world.

I think it's safe to say women everywhere are sick of the narrative where the bland boring white guy gets everything he wants although he has no talent. He gets the girl of his dreams after years of suspiciously experimenting with attractive women. He has the best job in the world although he is the definition of uninteresting. He has a huge posse of friends that worship him although his personality is dryer than the sahara desert. Why? Because Hollywood loves to promote white male entitlement! Yay!

Their depiction of relationships and love isn't what struck me as realistic and accurate, but their depiction of Los Angeles is what I found brilliant. They shine light on the neighborhoods not often shown in your typical LA based film, such as Echo Park. They show bars, gas stations, and streets, and show that the city of angels is more than glamour and glitz. It has plastic, rough areas and it has suburbs that'll make you feel like you're in the Midwest.

Anyway, I normally don't judge a show on it's diversity (or lack thereof), but there was something about Love that caught my attention.

ALL of the shows leads are white. The love interests are white. The best friends are white. The people with actual motivation to their character are white. Considering the fact that in Southern California, hispanic people take up 39% of the population, whereas white people take up 38%, this shouldn't be happening. It's not even logistically accurate to make all of the leads caucasian if the setting is in Southern California. Normally I wouldn't really care, but it bothered me how they went out of their way to make the background characters and supporting roles diverse.

"Hey, every character with depth and meaning will be white, but so we don't look racist, we're going to add one person of every race in group scenes. Cool!"

When people say they want more diversity on screen, they aren't saying they want representation in the background characters. We don't want stereotypes. Forget the clever black friend sidekick or the quirky asian guy that gets a few episodes. We don't need scenes to look like the United Nations. We're just asking for diverse leads that actually have depth to them and exist for themselves, not just for the benefit of the white characters. In fact, it's extremely unrealistic to make all your leads white and then all of your background characters over-the-top diverse. That's not how life works.

Love is the show you watch when you've finished Making a Murderer and you're waiting for new seasons of Orange is the New Black and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. You don't feel like watching a movie and you don't have the courage to start an entirely new series.

Love is 10 short episodes that'll take you at most a week to finish, so it's not like you have to give your heart and soul to Judd Apatow and Paul Rust to finish the series. It's an easy watch and doesn't take a whole lot out of you. So, watch it if you want? I guess? I mean, I give it a 4/10. But hey, if you're in a film studies class and you want to critique the living hell out of a TV series - THIS IS PERFECT FOR YOU. Perfect.

2 comments

  1. I didn't see Gillian Jacobs' character as the manic pixie dream girl. Viewers themselves "fall in love with" the classic manic pixie dream girl, but Gillian Jacobs' character was not adorable in her quirks. I saw her as a selfish, irresponsible, flawed character who just happened to be very attractive. The message I took from the ending was that it doesn't matter how rude and selfish you are to a potential mate; if you're attractive enough, they'll stick around. I thought the show did a good job portraying a set run by an African-American woman producer/director, but the other minority characters just had a throwaway line here and there. The rest of your analysis is spot-on though. Paul Rust's character wasn't even in the same league of attractiveness as his ex-girlfriend, the sisters, Mickey, or his co-worker. Only in a world where you get to cast your own love interest does he sleep with all of those women. No wonder average white guys feel so entitled to the most beautiful women wherever they are.
    Signed,
    An Average White Guy

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    1. That is very true, I was angry with Mickey just as much as I was angry with Gus. The problem is, the writers / producers clearly had a soft spot for Gus and unintentionally sided with him most of the time. Mickey is a very flawed character, yet Gus pursued her even when she purposely avoided a relationship with him. He romanticized her flaws for a self-esteem boost and because she was attractive. And as I said before, normally I won't criticize diversity in a film, but I know Paul Rust and Judd Apatow and their intentions. Judd is always under fire for lack of diversity, sexism and racist comments - so I know he intentionally put some color in the background to save his ass. That's what irked me. And of course, appearance isn't what matters in a relationship. When I saw Gus and Mickey together I didn't bat an eyelash. It was the pattern of unattractive losers dating and having sex with beautiful women that made me feel like this show was a misogynistic mess. Anyways, thanks for reading, and I'm glad you felt the same way. :) X

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