Love started out as a story about a girl and a boy who hardly looked like a good match but would one day fall in love. Mickey (Gillian Jacobs) and Gus (Paul Rust) spent almost the entire first episode apart, only meeting each other in the final few minutes and launching one of the most dysfunctional romances of this decade.
The final season of the show opens a few months after the end of season two, which saw Mickey and Gus agree to become a real couple. Mickey and Gus appear to be happy with where they are in life, which contrasts the real victims of this season – Bertie and Randy’s (Claudia O’Doherty and Mike Mitchell respectively) relationship, which was teased in season one and took off in season two.
The crux of the season is dependent on showcasing the good that Mickey and Gus bring to each other. These two characters are far from perfect, but it is knowing that they are working towards improving themselves and each other that takes what once was seen as a disastrous mix and making the output be something successful.
Bertie and Randy, on the other hand, brought out the worst in each other and it was time for the couple to break up. Randy had always been too reliant on Bertie, and it was mysterious as to why she stuck with him as long as she did. Randy has a victim complex and he spent the season flaunting that off (the crappy holiday home in Hemet, being homeless and out of work etc.) that it is amazing that Bertie didn’t cut that relationship short sooner.
One of my favourite aspects of a television series is when the show feels comfortable enough to dedicate episodes to supporting characters. While Claudia O’Doherty is billed as a main cast member, her character has often been relegated to the sidelines and given mainly B plots, with her A plots fuelling Mickey or Gus’ storylines. Having an episode dedicated to her birthday is monumental, especially in the final season. It gives breathing room to the other plots, while also respecting and even celebrating a wonderful cornerstone of the series. Her romance with Chris (Chris Witaske) felt natural, and it grew out of mutual respect for each other. Chris is able to appreciate Bertie in ways that Randy is unable and it is delightful to watch their love blossom, even if it grows in murky waters.
Paul Rust has revealed the show was going to open with a title card that read “by the end of this show, these two people will be broken up.” While that idea was dropped, it seemed that this would be the way the series would end – either with a break up or a reconciliation after something horrible. It is admirable, then, that the series manages to find a happy ending for the couple, an ending full of possibilities and wonder. And while the couple sailed on smooth waters for a lot of the season, they finally had the one big fight that was holding them both back.
The penultimate episode delivered one of the best arguments of the series, as it finally moves Mickey and Gus into new territory in their relationship. Gus has always been a problematic part of the series. He comes across as creepy, which is commented on several times during the series, but his heart has always in the right place. He has squandered any work opportunities that were presented to him, such as being invited into the Witchita writers room, and to learn that he accepts being a pushover because he is controlling in his work with a bunch of anger issues makes sense. The email to Ridley Scott, in which Gus demands to be taken more seriously but ends up forwarding emails he sent to his mother about what to say, is perfectly in line with the character that we’ve grown to know.
The falling out that Gus had with Hollywood and the film industry perfectly illuminates why his confidence is shot in a lot of his professional interactions, and that his goofy ball personality rubs people the wrong way. He is a man who had an opportunity to succeed, but failed spectacularly while being laughed out of any good business opportunities. For Gus to pick himself up after that and go back to the set of a television series as a teacher is humiliating and it’s no wonder he tries to suck up to the writers of the show in order to get ahead, and why he puts a 6 month time limit on his teaching position at Witchita.
A lot of the first two seasons of the show explored how Mickey is fucked up in multiple aspects of her life, and for the third season of the show to explore how Gus is just as fucked up puts them on an elevated playing field. In a lot of ways, the fact that they acknowledge their faults, and even love each other despite those flaws, highlights how this could be a dysfunctional couple that lasts.
Though Mickey cheating on Gus is brought up a few times throughout the season, Gus never learns of Mickey’s infidelity from the second season and it feels refreshing for a series to not use that kind of drama as the driving force for conflict. Love avoids this completely by diverging this conflict and having it come out of the potential for Gus to learn about it or for Mickey to once again slip up and self destruct.
It also flips the cheating trope on its head where men in media cheat but they mostly aren’t punished harshly for what they do. It’s also a driving force for wondering how these characters lives continue now that the series is over. It is possible that Gus does find out and their lives are thrown into chaos – after all, Mickey does talk about how they broke the relationship barrier by realising they can just be honest with each other. It is also possible that Gus never finds out and they both move on with their lives.
Love‘s final season is a perfect send off to these characters and their stories. This has been a series that I fell in love with from the first episode and I am sad to see it gone. It was captivating how the show made Los Angeles look like one of the most romantic places in the world and it really served as a fantastic backdrop against the love story between Mickey and Gus.
Love Seasons 1-3 are streaming now on Netflix.