Love Life — Season 1 Review
by KJ Proulx
HBO has proven over the many years they’ve been around that quality is their top priority. Whether you’re talking about shows like The Sopranos or more recently Game of Thrones (just to name the popular ones), it seems as though they hit far more home runs than fouls. With the launch of HBO Max in a few places around the world, a few new series have recently been released by them, and Love Life is one that I have taken the time to check out. Although I think this is a very solid series, here’s why I believe it’s also the least HBO-ish show that HBO has done in a long time.
Many descriptions for this series on websites like IMDB or Wikipedia have used the term anthology to describe the episodic nature of how this story is told. Personally, I didn’t see it that way. Love Life is a story about Darby (Anna Kendrick ) and she’s in every episode, as is nearly every supporting character. This first season follows her as she falls for a different man in each episode, trying to find her true love. I love the structure of this show, as it gives certain storylines time to breathe, instead of montaging over it. For that reason alone, I was sucked into the life of Darby due to the unique nature of the story being told.
This is the type of series that works really well in giving multiple directors a crack at individual episodes. Even though the same character is being followed, it’s a new romance so new voices are definitely welcomed in the director's chair. Nothing about this series felt uneven at all, which was a pleasant surprise. In fact, each episode felt fresh due to new directors coming in and out of the show. This is actually what kept this series from feeling far too familiar and cliche. This is also precisely what I was talking about when I called it the least HBO-ish show in a while. It felt more like a series you would see on Netflix or Amazon Prime, which isn’t a bad thing, but this light-hearted rom-com series just didn’t feel as resonant as some of HBO’s other programming.
I would say the biggest gripe I have towards this series is the fact that you sort of know how most of the episodes are going to end up, seeing as each episode has her with someone new. There are absolutely story threads that keep that from feeling overwhelmingly repetitive, but it did take me out of it at times. They do switch it up by having an episode set in the past and a few obvious ones that you know won’t last, and I felt that’s where the series was at its best. Yes, you want to root for Darby to find love and surely some of the episodes will focus on that, but I felt the best writing was done during the short flings because they almost felt like contained stories. Still, I wouldn’t exactly call this show an anthology, even though that made it sound like one.
Creator Sam Boyd, who assembled a great team to progress his vision, also directed the very first and very last episode of this season, which was fairly obvious, as the creative touch was very much the same in these two episodes. I loved where this season began, as well as where it concluded, leaving me happy to watch more. The main issue with this series though, is that it can feel slightly repetitive and formulaic in terms of how the majority of the episodes play out. Overall, Love Life is a very solid first season and the potential for a second is definitely there, even though it will probably have a very different feel. For fans of a good rom-com, this series maybe for you.
Check out the trailer below: