Netflix’s ‘Love’: Why Gus is the Biggest Asshole on TV

Love Gus
Source: Vox

Cultured Vultures spoilers

After watching the trailer for Netflix’s Love a couple of months ago, I thought it would be a light-hearted look at a couple of fuck-ups trying to fix each other. Maybe there would be awkward sex, perhaps the nerdy one would lose his Yu-Gi-Oh collection; similar quirkiness.

One binge session later that lasted until 5am, it’s fair to say that I might have underestimated the depth of the show and one character in particular.

From the offset, Gus (Paul Rust) is painted as a nice guy, someone capable of making even the most sour-faced of people laugh with his charm and oddities. He is too afraid to stand up for himself, leading to his girlfriend claiming she’s had an affair to get some sort of rise out of him. Our reluctant hero certainly rises, telling her that she wish she would die (repeatedly) before leaving her for good.

That should have been an early indication of the kind of man Gus is, but it was easy at the time to just pass it off as passion and frustration – how often have you wished ill on your ex?

Time passes and Gus meets Mickey (Gillian Jacobs), the cool girl who he chases and obsesses over. Jacobs’ performance as the “damaged” woman creates great chemistry in the early stages of the relationship, making each awkward glance and missed confession feel that much more endearing. It’s a romance you want to work, a Hallmark moment that you don’t feel guilty for wanting to happen.

And then Gus shows his true colours.

After a disastrous first date at a magic club that shows just how incompatible the two truly are, Gus’ expressions tell how he really feels – he doesn’t care for Mickey at all.

Netflix Love
Source: Polygon

Just watch the scenes from the morning after the date. Gus never once shows any interest in Mickey again, failing to mention her in conversation with any of his friends or taking time to contact her. Barely even 24 hours after bedding Mickey, he’s moved on to his colleague: a vapid, boring caricature of an actress.

The viewer is given no clues as to his feelings towards Mickey during this time, which makes it all the more heart-wrenching when we see what this is doing to her. She is a troubled addict who is given no explanation for the sudden disinterest, culminating in a blazing row at Gus’ place of work.

The pair then go their separate ways: Gus continues his doomed “set crush” with his colleague and Mickey continues to spiral, seeking out help for love and sex addiction. Gus’ fortunes see an upswing as the story for his script is accepted by the producers of Wichita, where he also works as an on-set teacher for the young talent. After noticing that his work has been edited, Gus reacts like a child and ends up being fired. The affable, downtrodden nerd that we loved in the first few episodes is nowhere to be seen.

If my opinion of Gus wasn’t quite fully formed by the season finale, it certainly was by the closing scene. Having attended meetings, Mickey resolves to spend time to herself to find out who she really is and to make peace with that person. Meanwhile, following the end of his “set crush”, a forlorn Gus makes his way to pick up some comfort food, but not before an obsessive Mickey notices his post on Instagram about it. When she tracks Gus down to where they first met, he reacts selfishly.

By kissing her during the last few frames of the series, Gus is basically wanting what he can’t have, fully knowing that Mickey is so infatuated with him that she will relent and take him back. You could construe this as a happy ending, the two polar opposites coming together again. It’s anything but. Gus is setting Mickey up for more heartbreak, and he knows it. He’s a borderline sociopath, a “fake nice” guy in love with the idea of love who panics when confronted with the real thing.

So, you can keep your Governors and your bastard kings – there’s one nerd who’s made his way to the top of my shitlist as the biggest asshole on TV.

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