The Good: Good performances, Moments of authentic character-building
The Bad: Continued plot delays, Moments of character dishonesty, Annoying drug conceits
The Basics: Love Season 2 manages to progress the protagonists of the show in a realistic and interesting way . . . for the most part.
I was not particularly grabbed by the first season of Love (reviewed here!), as it set up some interesting characters and then used them in unfortunately unremarkable ways. So, as Netflix released the second season of Love, it was one that I found myself surprised to binge. The second season of Love manages to do what the first season tried to avoid doing; actually putting Mickey and Gus together in a romantic relationship . . . while Mickey tries to work out her myriad of character issues.
Love Season 2 works fairly well when the characters are honest - both with themselves and with the people they are interacting with. Unfortunately, in its second season Love continues to find some painfully inorganic ways to progress the characters. So, while many of the character interactions include wonderful honesty between the characters, Gus lets Mickey talk him into doing drugs and Mickey starts to resent feeling like Gus's "fixer-upper." On the plus side, Mickey remains committed to the various anti-addiction organizations she is a part of, sometimes with Gus's help and that makes the second season of Love feel smarter and fresher than the first season.
Opening the exact moment of the first season's finale with Gus and Mickey squaring off in a convenience store parking lot, Mickey commits to a romantic relationship with Gus after the two get stuck in a lock-in situation when she brings Gus home. Mickey remains in SLAA (Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous) and Alcoholic's Anonymous while trying to develop a romantic relationship with Gus. The two struggle to find their place in one another's lives as Gus commits to the relationship while still working on Witchita with Heidi (with whom he had sex) and Mickey deals with her boss being more aggressive about her life during their company's merger.
While Gus and Mickey figure out their relationship, Bertie gets into a relationship with Gus's friend Randy. Mickey acts as guide when Bertie, Randy and Gus help her dispose of her psychedelic mushrooms by taking them. When Witchita gets cancelled, Gus is given the chance to follow Arya onto her next project. Mickey is miffed when Gus meets her father and outs her sobriety to him. The relationship experiences tension when Mickey feels monitored by Gus - especially about her smoking - and the two face being apart for the first time for a significant amount of time.
The second season of Love explores the difficulties of establishing an open, honest, relationship with an addict. Gus is set in his ways and trying to advance his career, while monitoring Mickey. Mickey struggles with being in a relationship with Gus while maintaining her various forms of sobriety. Love captures awkwardness and excitement that occurs early in relationships very well.
What does not work in the second season of Love is when the relationship gets thrown into artificial contrivances. Early in the season, Brian calls Mickey on her bullshit at a party incredibly well . . . but it is one of the few moments of character honesty in the season. There is something exceptionally frustrating about watching characters who have the absolutely right body language (shut off, reserved, arms crossed) for expressing boredom or concern about impending activities . . . but then go along with pitched activities. It is irritating, as well, because many of the characters who are proximate or in relationships with the person experiencing tension do not seem to notice the character who is having difficulty. So, for example, Mickey is very clear about not wanting to continue in discussions that do not interest her while at a dinner party and she generates drama during a game with her friends . . . but then she does not respond with the same respect she wanted when Gus is resistant to trying mushrooms.
The key characters in the second season of Love are:
Mickey Dobbs - Casting aside her reservations about being in a relationship so early in her sobriety, she commits to Gus while working her programs. She manages her sexual addiction by being faithful to Gus, but still gets very frustrated with him. She begins to work on her own career and gets thirty days sober. She tries to manage her relationship with Gus while getting angry a lot,
Gus Cruikshank - He tries to be supportive of Mickey, but often comes across as controlling. He tries to keep Mickey from using her mushrooms by taking them himself and he kisses up to Mickey's father when he visits. Gus continues to work for Arya after Witchita ends and that forces some distance between him and Mickey when he goes to Atlanta for a film project. He is a hugger and has trouble being alone while away from Mickey,
Bertie - Mickey's roommate, she leaps into a relationship with Randy. She tries to give good advice to Mickey and starts to flirt with another one of Gus's friends. She loans Randy some money. She starts to recognize just how many people push her around and begins to become more assertive,
Dr. Greg - He continues to be a narcissitic jackass, though Mickey starts to distance herself from working with him. He meddles in Mickey's relationship with Gus while at a party by spouting his psychobabble at him in a way that makes Mickey look terrible,
and Randy - He is reluctant to accept money from Bertie, despite needing it. He unsettles everyone by talking about killing others while on mushrooms. He struggles to get a job for the first time in his life. He and Mickey start to bond while they are out shopping and he generally satisfies Bertie until she realizes just how many people have pushed her around.
It is weird that in the second season of Love, Arya (a very minor character) acts as the embodiment of "love as sacrifice" for the show. And Love embodies well the difficulties of being in a relationship with a person with a lot of issues and personality, but then it continues to throw up contrivances. The viewer just keeps waiting for Mickey to cheat or fall off the wagon and it is hard not to get frustrated at Gus for how clunky he is in relating to people on a professional level.
On the acting front, it finally clicked with me who Gillian Jacobs was reminding me of in the first season. When Jacobs has moments of her voice cracking or getting raspy, she sounds exactly like Natasha Lyonne . . . or specifically, Natasha Lyonne doing an Emma Stone impersonation. Jacobs also seems like she is doing an awesome Anne Hathaway impression for some of the more emotive moments as Mickey.
Paul Rust has a very consistent affect as Gus in the second season of Love and Claudia O'Doherty continues to play Bertie as a timid pushover. There is more consistency in the performances than there is anything remotely approaching the actors pushing the envelope of their talent in the second season of Love.
On the technical front, the second season of Love features some odd technical glitches. Between the two seasons (season two picks up the same day as the first season finale and is about a month long for the twelve episodes) Brett Gelman lost a noticeable amount of weight and there are some moments when the show does irritating hand-held camerawork. And Love has some troublingly bad editing. There is a moment when an angry character is shown in three cuts - two very angry facial expressions when shown from the front, but a side view of her has the actress smiling entirely incongruently. The second season of Love seems oddly less-professional in its direction and production than the first season.
Ultimately, the second season of Love is better than the first and starts to tackle some of the inherent issues with the key characters . . . while still throwing up obvious roadblocks to keep the protagonists from truly being together.
For other works from the 2016 – 2017 television season, please check out my reviews of:
Santa Clarita Diet - Season 1
A Series Of Unfortunate Events - Season 1
One Day At A Time - Season 1
Travelers - Season 1
"Happy Fuckin' New Year" - Sense8
The OA - Season 1
Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life
"Invasion!" - Arrow
"Self Control" - Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.
"The Wrath Of Savitar" - The Flash
"Land Of The Lost" - Legends Of Tomorrow
"Exodus" - Supergirl
Luke Cage - Season 1
Stranger Things - Season 1
For other television reviews, please check out my Television Review Index Page for an organized listing!
© 2017 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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