The Netflix original series Love follows nice guy Gus (Paul Rust) and brazen wild-child Mickey (Gillian Jacobs) as they navigate intimacy, commitment and love. Written and executive produced by Judd Apatow, Rust and Lesley Arfin, it is an unflinching, hilarious and excruciatingly honest take on modern relationships.
During roundtables and a panel at the TCA Press Tour, co-creators Apatow and Rust, along with actress Gillian Jacobs, talked about evolving from a movie to a TV series, compiling their own relationship stories for the characters, what makes this show different, shooting in Los Angeles, why it’s okay that Mickey is not always a likeable character, and getting some lee-way with episode length. We’ve compiled a list of 16 things that you should know about Love.
Judd Apatow, Paul Rust and Lesley Arfin co-created the show together. It started off as a movie, but they thought there was enough story to mine to do a 10-episode TV series.
- Rust and Arfin are married and were a jumping off point for Gus and Mickey, but it evolved from there, as they compiled relationship stories. Rust said, “A day into the writers’ room, I was like, ‘Oh, this is not us. If we just try to transcribe what went on in our lives, it won’t be interesting.’ But, it’s been a dream. I love my wife, and it’s such a thrill, in a relationship, to be able to collaborate, creatively. It’s romantic. I like it.”
- The part of Mickey was written with Gillian Jacobs in mind to play the role, and they were able to get her to join the cast. After Community, Jacobs had been looking to do a show that had two leads that was in the world of dramedy, where she could have serious and funny scenes, so this show was ideal for her. She said, “I think I was so fortunate to have six years on such a great show, but it’s fun to do something very different, tonally, with your next project, especially with the quality of writing and the collaborators. I don’t think it gets much better than this, so it felt like a no-brainer.”
- Rust sees Apatow as a mentor, and he feels that mentoring began when he was in college and watched Freaks and Geeks. He said, “Watching that show and seeing that perfect mix of writing about your own experiences set me on this course, to begin with. It just so happened, a few years later, I got to meet Judd.”
- Apatow feels that this show is different from other shows that explore a similar subject. He said, “I liked the idea of just following every single beat of the relationship. I think that’s something nobody else has done. The things that you would usually skip over and jump to a month later, we’re just not skipping over. If you have a date and the next day is awkward, we’re going to do the full awkward day. If there’s a fight and they don’t talk for awhile, we might go several episodes where they don’t even see each other. We’re just trying to have it move differently than other shows have done before, and have it be realistic and funny.”
The trio of creators didn’t have any clashes with writing this show because they’re very similar in their personalities and experiences. For Episode 5, when Gus goes on a date, Rust and Apatow sat down and made a list of everything that had ever gone wrong with them, and then put that into the show.
- They wanted to shoot the show in Los Angeles and make it a special, unique aspect of the story. With a small cast, they were able to pull it off without it being as costly as it can be.
- Jacobs can relate to the loneliness and isolation these characters experience because she experienced it herself when she first moved to Los Angeles. She said, “I first came to L.A. to audition for pilot season, and I really didn’t know anyone. The only people I would meet are the girls I was up against at auditions, so it wasn’t the friendliest bunch. I actually looked at an apartment at a place very similar to where Gus lives and I found that to be depressing because this woman had lived in the apartment for so many years, and she rented out her second room to people, every pilot season. It wasn’t really until I had moved here full-time for Community and I had a job that it gave me structure in my life and I made friends. I lot of people who move to L.A. say that you have to go find the city. It doesn’t present itself to you, in the same way that New York does. But I do think that that is modern life, as well. It’s not just Los Angeles.”
- Gus and Mickey are apart for much of the series, living their separate lives. Jacobs said, “I think it’s great that you get the full context of these people’s lives. You meet them and you’re intrigued by who these people are, and then, as the season goes on, you really learn why they are the way they are. It was interesting because I saw [Rust] on set far more as a writer than I did as an actor, for the first chunk of the season. I really didn’t see Gus’ side of the world until the very end of the season. I thought it was a really great way to go in-depth with these characters.”
Mickey is not always a likeable character, and that’s something that Jacobs is totally okay with. She said, “It’s great to see a character who wears her vulnerabilities on her sleeve. She is someone who is struggling and trying to figure things out. She wants to be better, wants love and wants to have figured it all out, but she clearly hasn’t and she can’t hide that she hasn’t. There is something really refreshing about that and, as an actor, selfishly, those are my favorite types of characters to play.”
- Having been in some R-rated and raunchy films, Jacobs said it feels naughty to be the raunchy one on this show, especially when she’s swearing on set and knows it’s going to make it in, unbleeped. “For me, I’m a very boring person in my real life, so I got to act out a lot of misbehaving fantasies with Mickey. It was really fun.”
- Gus works in the entertainment industry as a set teacher, but this show spotlights the mundane and unglamorous side of Hollywood. There are so many nooks and crannies of people who have jobs, so they wanted to show the people you don’t normally get to see.
- The idea for the TV series that Gus works on set came out of kicking around a lot of goofy television show ideas. They ended up with a mediocre supernatural teen show called Wichita, and then got Apatow’s daughter, Iris, to play the lead character on it.
- Netflix allows the writers the freedom to take their time with telling the story. For a network, the entire season would probably have happened in the first episode. But they’re able to stretch it out with near-misses and miscommunications, and have a period of time where they’re not connecting.
Even though it’s technically a half-hour show (which would typically mean about 22-minutes), Netflix also gives them some lee-way in the time length. Said Apatow, “It allows us to tell the story in the right amount of time. With TV shows, they do all sorts of things to get to time. They’ll even speed up the show, and then change the pitch of their voice so that they can squeeze 24 minutes into 21 minutes, and so it’s nice to know that you can be 22 minutes or 31 minutes, or whatever the story demands. I like that. There’s one [episode] that’s 40 minutes, but most of them are right around 29 or 30. I think it’s an incredible thing for creative people to not be hemmed, in that way.”
- They also kept in mind that viewers would likely be watching these episodes in batches, if not all at once. Said Apatow, “All of the episodes really do continue, maybe not from the exact moment, but it is a continuous story. We never jump three months forward, or anything like that. That was part of the intention of the show. So, if there’s a pause between two people who just met each other calling each other, for us, it might be several episodes long. We tried to keep in mind that the experience of watching it wouldn’t be the one episode, but at least two or three. That was really the fun, for all of us, to try to figure out what that experience would be like. The weird thing is that we didn’t get to find out that experience for people because we were making it so fast that we didn’t show 10 episodes to people to see how it was going.”
Love is available on Netflix.