Some of you may have watched Darby Carter (Anna Kendrick, “Pitch Perfect”) in season one of “Love Life” as she struggled through her 20s and the many men those years brought with them. Fortunately, HBO Max has more in store for you. “Love Life” is back for a second season, but this time the audience will be living vicariously through the romantic affairs of Marcus Watkins (William Jackson Harper, “The Good Place”).
Marcus is a New York book editor striving to rewrite his own love story. After his marriage goes to shambles, he experiences being single and the many relationships that come with it — both the good and bad. Each episode is a glimpse into one of Marcus’s many romantic entanglements over the course of several years. The big question: Which woman will be “the one”?
While the show is an entertaining and relatively light watch, the viewer is reminded that love is difficult and maintaining a relationship is no easy task. Marcus, as a recent divorcé, is a prime example. With each new date, casual hookup or one-night stand, we are privy to the desperation and loneliness that singlehood brings through the eyes of someone encountering it firsthand.
So far, the second season of “Love Life” has yet to disappoint. In fact, it’s arguably superior to the first season. Although Darby’s mess of a dating life proved to be amusing, Marcus’s character is more likable and subsequently, the audience can’t help but root for him. As the show is primarily centered around his experiences, being able to connect to Marcus is imperative and the show does this in that his character is charming, funny and easy to relate to.
Additionally, the series touches upon deeper aspects of dating. As a Black man married to a white woman, Marcus began to question whether his wife truly understood him. He even notes that he never had a long-term relationship with a Black woman because he was scared he’d “fuck it up.” And so, this presents a larger, societal problem: who someone should love versus who they want to love.
“Love Life” doesn’t shy away from the ugliness of love but rather portrays how difficult it can be. The audience is presented with this concept that as humans, we want to love someone and have that love be reciprocated. However, as seen with Marcus, partners question each other, people fall out of love and marriages fail.
And so, the show takes what is a refreshing and long overdue perspective on the genre of romantic comedy. Instead of false representations of twenty-first-century relationships and “happily ever afters,” the audience is witness to a complicated character who has insecurities and doubts, much like they do.
As Marcus takes on a single life full of “swiping right” and awkward first dates, the audience watches knowingly and sympathetically. With each new woman who enters his life, we get to experience the cringe-worthy, the ugly and the thrilling aspects of love. Maybe if we’re lucky, “Love Life” will come back with a third season, and with it, we’ll get to enjoy another person’s disastrous dating history.
Daily Arts Writer Molly Hirsch can be reached at email@example.com.