Warning: Spoilers ahead for Feel Good’s season 1 finale.
The first act of Netflix’s Feel Good premiere suggests you’re in for the kind of rom-com series you’ve experienced before. Something along the lines of early You’re the Worst or any episode of Lovesick: a comedy that tells the quirky love story of two messy, possibly incompatible people you will support no matter what.
By Feel Good’s season 1 finale, “Episode 6,” you know how very wrong you originally were. The streaming show, created by star/comedian Mae Martin, has seen the darkness of You’re the Worst’s most somber episodes — think Gretchen’s (Aya Cash) many struggles with depression — and decided to raise the stakes to an even more delicate mental health journey. Martin’s character, a heightened version of herself also named Mae Martin, spends “Episode 6” in the most dire throes of her cocaine addiction. In the midst of that crisis, she is also struggling through a breakup with her newest girlfriend, George (Call the Midwife actress Charlotte Ritchie).
After countless romantic difficulties, it’s easy to believe Mae and George need to take a break from their tumultuous relationship. Yet, your heart probably still flutters when the duo falls back into bed together in the final minutes of “Episode 6.”
Martin confirms that topsy-turvy feeling was crafted by design.
“I wanted to leave it kind of ambiguous at the end,” Martin — who co-wrote the series with best friend Joe Hampson — told Refinery29 recently over the phone. “I want people’s allegiances to flip flop.”
George does do a lot in “Episode 6” to suggest she may be better for Mae than we are originally led to believe. While George spends much of the series hiding Mae from her loved ones, she opens up in the finale. The crescendo of this growth arrives when Mae shows up to George’s flat after a bender with a Narcotics Anonymous acquaintance (Tom Andrews). Mae, recognizing she is in the middle of a mental health crisis, has already asked her parents for a ticket home to Canada. George doesn’t know any of this information and has invited Mae over for a post-breakup coffee. In the middle of George’s huge declaration of love, her posh mother (Pippa Haywood) abruptly comes crashing out of the kitchen closet (“There’s something funny about people being in closets anyway,” Martin laughed). George obviously put her in there as a grand romantic gesture for Mae.
This is how Mae realizes George — who previously only dated men — is ready to fully let her girlfriend into her life. It may seem like too little too late, but Martin is quick to point out that assumption isn’t really fair.
“Realistically, over the course of this series, Mae and George have only been together for like three months,” Martin says. “George evolves a lot, quite quickly. So I’m glad there’s a sense at the end that Mae’s going to give her another chance. It’s still up for grabs. I think if George continues to evolve, then I’m rooting for them I think.”
Martin, at minimum, is hoping audiences will embrace George, who initially “behaved a lot worse” in a 2017 pilot of Feel Good. “We definitely wanted to make sure George wasn’t this manic pixie dream girl. She’s flawed and three-dimensional,” Martin says of this final version of the character. “[Joe and I] thought, Actually, we really want people to see what Mae sees in George and to root for them.”
Although the gulf between the George viewers see and the IRL Disney princess Mae perceives George to be throughout much of Feel Good is vast, it shrinks in “Episode 6.” After George's mom leaves, George admits to Mae that she “needs” her and is in love with her. They quickly start making out and George is finally comfortable going down on Mae following episodes of awkwardness around oral sex. The couple is physically closer than ever, and George has purged all of her secrets around the relationship. Mae, on the other hand, is hiding the fact that she burned multiple bridges in her NA group and recently broke her cocaine sobriety (hence the new Sum 41 tattoo).
“They don’t have a lot in common except that they’re in love,” Martin explained. “I think a lot of people have had that experience where you’re with someone and pretty much the thing that keeps you together is that you’re just in love.”
If you think that technically sweet statement sounds like a recipe for Feel Good season 2 disaster, you're probably right. But at least George will be “carrying Mae’s bags,” as she says towards the close of “Episode 6,” until some inevitable calamity.
If you are struggling with substance abuse, please call the SAMHSA National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for free and confidential information.