As the trailers and promo materials for the final season of Netflix’s LOVE started rolling out, I made peace with something: it wasn’t going to have a happy ending. By all accounts, Gus and Mickey, its two intentionally unlikable protagonists, aren’t meant for each other.
Mickey is damaged from years of terrible relationships with terrible men and looks to Gus, almost desperately, as her salvation from it all. She has zero impulse control, often resulting in angry outbursts of misdirected rage and a struggle with her addictions. Gus, meanwhile, is a neurotic asshole who has a whole lot of darkness beneath his harmless geek veneer.
The end of season 2 seemed to doom the relationship between the pair before it even properly started. Mickey hid her infidelity from Gus before claiming she was ready to properly commit, leaving the unsuspecting Gus delighted. The stage was set for massive blowout in the final season, but apart from a couple of fights where Gus realised that, hey, maybe I am the crazy one, the couple seemed to be in perfect harmony, certainly a better pairing than the previous seasons had illustrated.
Come the final episode, my anxiety had gone through the roof as I squirmed in my seat awaiting the revelation. On a whim, Gus and Mickey decide to elope to Catalina and get married on the beach. Conventional wisdom convinced me that this would be it, the fireworks would explode and Love would end the way Judd Apatow had originally envisioned: with heartbreak. When Randy started giving an awkward speech, I feared the worst, that the truth would slip out, the sad indie music would kick in, and the show would be left on a devastating full stop.
Thankfully, it wasn’t to be, and in the grand scheme of LOVE as a show, it couldn’t really have wrapped up on a more apt note.
LOVE’s main appeal over its three seasons is how it’s an unflinchingly true depiction of what love is really like. There are some Hallmark scenes in its final season, such as the pair finally admitting that they love each other, but there’s not a boombox or bouquet of flowers in sight. Gus and Mickey, after the latter unwittingly passes on her illness to the former, have a massive fight and it just sort of comes out. It’s a lo-fi reveal that may underwhelm fans of romantic movies and shows, but it sums up the couple as a whole. It’s messy and imperfect but somehow also totally right.
You won’t get a better example of the show’s ethos than in final stages. After bad omens and cold feet, the couple decide to call off their impromptu wedding before slinking off late at night to get married in secret. They both laugh throughout, realising just how ridiculous the situation is. And that’s it. There’s no flash-forward or montage, just a question mark on their future.
At first, the consumer in me wanted finality, the tidy little bow to tie everything together. I was annoyed that these two relatable, terrible people who I had grown to love and hate in equal measures had their stories left hanging, like there was so much left to tell. I went to bed annoyed, left with so many questions and such little in the way of resolution before I realised that I was meant to feel annoyed.
So much of our media is open and shut; there’s a beginning, middle, and end to almost every film or show that conclusively and satisfyingly rounds things off. LOVE has never been like that; I really don’t know why I expected anything else. Love itself isn’t perfect, and if you think your relationship truly is, you aren’t being truthful with each other. That’s what this show is all about, highlighting that, beyond all the photo book moments, love is not easy and it doesn’t always make sense, but when you feel that connection to someone, it’s worth fighting to keep.
While it wasn’t without its flaws, Netflix’s LOVE showed love for what it really is without the heart-shaped goggles. Couples don’t always make sense, secrets are never told, and Australian girls called Bertie are the best.