When Netflix’s Love introduces its audience to Mickey (played by Gillian Jacobs) it instantly cultivates the image of a certain kind of girl: hotboxing in cars with guys she just met, wearing a swimsuit under jeans to a “church,” and fully expecting to get away with forgetting her wallet at home. Dripping with every visible trace of fun, detached, indie girl that we’ve been collectively trained to register as cool (if not Manic Pixie), Love turns a curve by exploring what happens when the subject of one’s infatuation turns out to be more than just your standard cool girl — but a complex, increasingly problematic woman with very real addiction issues.
Written and developed by Judd Apatow, star Paul Rust (who plays Gus), and Rust’s off-screen wife, fellow “cool girl” writer Lesley Arfin, Love builds on a modern television trope that has not been without its lack of press in the last few years: female leads who aren’t exactly likable. While certainly nothing new to the increasingly diverse, feminist-leaning spectrum present on TV today — Broad City, You’re The Worstand Girls (on which Arfin previously served as staff writer) come to mind — what makes Love’s Mickey interesting is that she feels like a fully-fleshed response to criticism that dogged Apatow earlier in his film career — that instantly recognizable Apatowian male fantasy of cluelessly goofy, complicated everymen who become entangled with insanely gorgeous, less complicated women.
For all intents and purposes, Mickey, though intentionally made under to pronounce her dark circles, unwashed hair and makeup-free complexion, is still the most glow-y, effortlessly beautiful version of Gillian Jacobs there ever was. But what the series does so well is cleverly undercut her conventional attractiveness with some very ugly, self-destructive impulses that still somehow (thanks to Jacobs’ portrayal) play as sympathetic.