The complete first season of Love Life is now streaming on HBO Max.
By Greg Wheeler
Love Life is a series that can be split into two distinct halves. The first plays out as a below-average rom-com with questionable character motivations and uneven episodes that lack a consistent rhythm. After three or four episodes, however, HBO Max’s latest series really starts to come into its own, delivering some pretty good episodes and a much better second-half. With Anna Kendrick in the driving seat and a simple but enjoyable premise, Love Life isn’t going to win any awards but it does make a decent case for its already green-lit second season.
The story itself follows Darby, a hopeless romantic throwing herself head-first into different relationships in a bid to try and find romance. The first half is admittedly a little rough around the edges, with Darby getting drunk at a funeral, lying to one of the boys she dates, and ultimately failing to establish herself as a likable protagonist. Around the midway point, Darby starts to grow up and mature, which is where the series really starts to get into a good grove with one particularly brilliant episode helping to bridge the gap between the good and the not-so-good.
The episodes themselves follow a similar pattern, beginning with a bite of narration and some expository text showing how long it’s been since the previous relationship Darby finds herself in. Along the way, her friends Jim, Sara, and Mallory all have their own arcs and there’s some decent work done to flesh this out and prevent the show from stagnating into “relationship of the week” territory.
This is where some of the cleverness of the story comes into play as the aptly titled Love Life becomes a double entendre. The show becomes much more about an exploration of loving your own life as much as it is wading through lackluster dates to find the perfect partner. There are some mother/daughter ties, love between friends, and even just a general love and affection toward your own career and personal journey. All of this combines to give this one a bit more depth than the surface level episodes early on would have you believe.
With each episode clocking in at around 30 minutes or so and consistent rhythm and pacing to most of the episodes, Love Life doesn’t reinvent the wheel with its production design but does enough to keep you watching. The series does have some problems with its plot at times and the writing isn’t quite as sharp as it could be, but there’s enough here to enjoy nonetheless.
Despite that though, Love Life doesn’t quite do enough to stand out next to so many other romantic comedies of its kind. Sure, the series has a few stand out moments and one episode, in particular, is easily up there with one of the best this year, but the series fails to become the brightest spark it could be. It’s not a bad show per se and it’s a perfectly enjoyable binge-watch, but it’s also one that’s unlikely to stand out when the year is done.
I give Love Life a B.