This Love review does not contain spoilers.
Love Season 3
“We’re indestructible. We’re invincible.”
Love is messy. It’s a feeling that can make people hurl objects at one another, sleep behind each other’s backs, affectionately pop each other’s pimples, but also help each other bring out their best selves. It’s lightning in a bottle that’s never the same twice and Love has done an impressive job at tapping into that explosive energy. Love’s first two seasons depict Mickey and Gus’ separate struggles, as well as the growing pains of their relationship as they begin to accept it. Now that the groundwork has been laid, this final season is meant to follow these two as they finally find themselves in a committed, “normal” relationship. That’s a strong enough angle for the show’s final year, but this last look at Mickey and Gus’ relationship lacks some of the raw, chaotic energy that helped define its previous seasons.
Love’s second season didn’t feel as groundbreaking as its debut year, and this is unfortunately a trend that continues into season three. That disclaimer aside, that’s not to say that this is a bad season of television or that it doesn’t have something to say. In fact, it’s nice to see the production team realize that three years is enough for this story and that this vehicle won’t draw itself out and needlessly jeopardize Mickey and Gus’ relationship and happiness in the process. Brevity is definitely Love’s friend and the series makes the most of this final season.
Love still features some big laughs, but so much of its humor comes from knowing the relatable beats of what it’s like to be in a relationship. As season three begins, Mickey and Gus are now the sort of insufferable super couple that they’ve mocked in the past. They feel invincible. This final year explores new relationship territory for the pair, such as road trips, helping your significant other heal when they’re on the mend, going to a wedding together, and figuring out who your real friends are as you begin to grow up.
Tension in the show no longer comes from worrying whether Mickey and Gus will break out into some fight or if something will go wrong, but rather how the two of them get along with everyone else. At the same time, it’s also satisfying to see that Gus and Mickey know how to defuse an argument when they do tiptoe up to one and that they’re able to avoid mistakes that tripped them up in the past. And when one does slip through the cracks, they don’t crumble like they used to do. That’s the good thing about relationships. Even when you hit a bunch of gutterballs, your other half can still knock out a bunch of strikes and even things out.
It’s almost eerie how happy and sweet Mickey and Gus are now, and while it might give the audience a bit of whiplash, it feels like a comfort the show has earned. It might be a little annoying to see these two operate in “true love” mode, but the show wants to nauseate you to that degree. This arguably is a slightly less challenging version of the show, but it’s one that still feels authentic to its mission statement. It’s deeply cathartic to just watch Gus and Mickey go on a healing spree to try and help those around them while they attempt to keep their own shit together and not have everything fall apart.
This season of the show is also important because it puts into perspective the fact that Mickey and Gus have only known each other for six months. Love makes the effort to point out that this time period is the alleged “sweet spot” in a relationship, but it also implies that it’s about to be make or break time.
All of this means even more when Mickey and Gus’ previous relationships are also put into consideration, and the audience realizes that they’ve been through all of these emotional beats before. Love also wisely plays Gus and Mickey’s relatively short relationship in juxtaposition to marriages that have been strong for decades and other more established bonds. It helps illustrate that no two relationships are identical and everyone moves at a different pace, regardless of how long they’ve been together.
With everything going seemingly well for Gus and Mickey, the series then poses the question of, “What do you do when everything is okay?” This naturally also touches on deeper issues, like if Gus only liked Mickey because she was flawed (and vice versa). What this analysis leaves Mickey and Gus with is the honest fact that all that people can do is get through each day and try not to screw up. There’s something beautiful and refreshing about that simple realization.
On that note, through all of this bliss, the cracks in Gus and Mickey’s perfect union begin to show and it’s just gutting whenever it happens. You desperately want this show to end with these two together and at their happiest, rather than some realization that they’re better off apart. Every time that Mickey or Gus does do something stupid, you just want to scream at the screen.
A lot of what makes Love work is its brilliant cast and their effortless performances. Everyone here is still incredible and has amazing chemistry with one another. All of the emotion and honesty still hit like a ton of bricks. Love is still very much a show that involves watching people hang out while different character types interact and co-exist. After all, isn’t that what life and love are really all about?
Love expertly depicts relatable, human situations with incredibly precise clarity. The stakes might not be the highest in this series, but it’s just so easy to watch and “spend time” with these characters. To add to that, the show’s arguments are also some of the most real and authentic fights that you’ll find on TV.
This final season makes the smart decision to not bury its main cast under new characters or last-minute additions, but it does allow Mike Mitchell’s Randy and Chris Witaske’s Chris to get some well-deserved promotions. Even Brett Gelman’s Dr. Greg gets a welcome arc and the opportunity to grow this year, too. His success runs in complete opposition to Mickey’s and it makes for an interesting conflict.
Another joy of this season is that Bertie develops more of a backbone and really tries to assert herself. It’s a great development for her character that’s long overdue. There’s an episode where it’s Bertie’s birthday and it manages to simultaneously be the most devastating and heartwarming thing ever. Frankly, a lot of these actors’ do their best work of the series in this season, but that’s especially true for Claudia O’Doherty and Gillian Jacobs. The real stand out of the season, however, is Witaske. His bond with Bertie is the most adorable thing ever.
Outside of the relationship fodder, Gus tries to push his screenwriting career further and makes several big moves in that department, as he attempts to branch out as an actual filmmaker and not just a writer. Gus is optimistic and ready to change his life and finally take control, even if it does seem like the universe is testing him at times. Mickey, on the other hand, receives inspiration and positive momentum when her hard work at her radio job finally begins to pay off. She faces nourishment while Gus is put through the wringer, but they both have similar dreams.
Love’s swan song amounts to a leisurely final lap that may not be as powerful and eye-opening as its first two seasons, but it’s a season that feels like the natural progression of everything that’s come before. The season gets a little messy towards the end—much like relationships themselves—but it has a real sweet conclusion that more or less feels right for the show. Some people will inevitably feel like this conclusion is rushed, or that it isn’t the right decision for these characters. Even though this is certainly not the end of these characters’ stories, it still feels like the right time to leave them, and it’s easy to imagine what will happen next in their lives.
Gus and Mickey aren’t perfect. The two of them are still learning and they will surely have plenty of mistakes ahead of them. However, they’ve figured out the algorithm of their love and they have a system that works for them. That doesn’t mean that they won’t ever fight again, but they know where they stand with each other. That’s not necessarily exciting television to follow for another season, but it feels like an earned ending.
Love’s third and final season premieres March 9 on Netflix.
This review is based on all twelve half-hour episodes of Love’s third season.