Love is patient, love is kind, but Love is finally coming to an end. I say "finally" because even though this is just the third season of the Judd Apatow series, it ran out of story to tell about ten episodes ago. However, so did Mickey (Gillian Jacobs) and Gus (Paul Rust). The whole premise of their relationship was their determination to keep trying something that patently doesn't work, and, just like the show itself, and just like me tuning in each season, it happens again and again without anyone once considering that maybe it needs to be over.
The plot of the first season essentially repeated itself in the second season. The things around them may have changed, but both times, Mickey and Gus struggled to make something romantic work. Season 3 is only different in the sense that they're giving labels a go, but it's hard to imagine that will make all the problems we already know they have just disappear. It feels like they've been doing this forever, but as the couple points out in season 3, it's actually only been five months. A five month story told over three years.
Seriously, why am I still watching? Sure, season 3 is good! Their relationship both warms and breaks my heart, the writing is smart, and I continue to be charmed by Claudia O'Doherty. But if I know what happens, why do I keep coming back? Is it because I think this time will be different, and they'll actually work things out? Is it because I want to be proven right by having predicted that they won't? Is it because I'm not ready to find a different show to fill the Love-shaped place in my heart? And why am I asking Judd Apatow the same questions I've had to ask myself in pretty much every doomed relationship?
The most irritating thing about Love might be also what makes it genius. Season 3 continues to make viewers a participant in this relationship, whether they like it or not. If you're still tuning in, it means you're just as trapped as the protagonists, and any smugness we feel is moot because the very fact that we're watching means we still think something could change.
If anything, watching this third season has taught me that the things I'm shouting at Mickey and Gus on my screen are also things I should be learning to say in relationships. And maybe that's the point, to turn the lens back on ourselves and to learn from the unhealthy patterns we just watched unfold. But, if I had to guess, there's no point at all. There is no right answer. We all get stuck in these bad ruts sometimes. Let's just hope ours also stop after three seasons.
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