Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Love’s Mickey and Gus are not good people

Illustration for article titled Love’s Mickey and Gus are not good people

When we first get together with someone, going against the prevailing narrative, we aren’t all consumed by them. A text may send us into butterflies-in-the-tummy zone but this idea that this new person is all we can think about it utter garbage because, I mean, someone’s got to pay the rent around here. It makes sense that Gus spends his morning crafting the perfect “Sup?” text plus emoji, and Mickey reads it, gets distracted after a fender bender hit and run that is entirely her fault. She forgets it, and Gus, exists until the end of the episode. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t some cognitive dissonance in my brain that believes that because these two people are characters that they should be constantly obsessing over each other, texting back and forth and discussing their love lives with friends and colleagues. That happens to a small degree — Gus bonds with his boss’ craft servicing nephew nepotism hire in a fun scene. But for the most part the beginning of your normal, average everyday love — the not the epic kind they sell us in movies and books — starts with a forgotten text message rather than bang (although, sometimes the bang comes first. Rimshot!). Gus texts Mickey “Sup?” she gets distracted by life. It doesn’t means she doesn’t like him any less, it just means she has things to do like commit a minor felony and avoid getting fired.

But what does that mean in terms of the narrative? That’s why we’re all here isn’t it. I’m still on the fence about that, even after marinating with this episode for awhile. My rom-com informed brain wants to see them together, but the luxury of 10 episodes, rather than two hours, allows this time for Gus and Mickey to be their own people again, to return to work and make mistakes and live their lives. I have expectations as a devotee of the genre but at the same time I know that Love is trying to subvert the genre in a lot of ways. But even a rom-com subverting success like You’re The Worst made sure that we knew its two central characters were together before establishing them as separate people with separate lives. Love seems intent on doing the opposite. Did Gus and Mickey’s separation make it any less of an episode? Not really. This is a show that’s clearly meant to be watched in several episode stretches rather than one at a time, and viewing Love that way may make their time part more palatable. But I’m not sure their separation helped the episode either.

While Gus and Mickey may be apart for the episode, they are both living somewhat parallel lives by existing in the moral grey area. They both think they are doing the right thing, when, in fact, they aren’t being paragons of good either. Gus’ is probably the more interesting case because he’s unconsciously doing the wrong thing. Aria (played so well by Judd Apatow’s younger daughter Iris) refuses to take the ERBs, an exam she needs to pass or face work stoppage, because she’s either really good at manipulating Gus to do whatever she wants (which we saw countless times through this episode) or she’s legitimately headed for Amanda Bynes territory. Either way, her outburst convinces Gus to take the test for her. As I said in my review for “One Long Day,” I’m kind of fascinated by this idea of hostile kindness that Natalie brings up when Gus and Mickey accidentally stop by. He think he’s doing the right thing by helping this young girl pass her test when the best thing for her — whether she’s manipulating Gus or not — is ultimately to let her fail. He’s more of a detriment than a help.

Mickey knows her actions are entirely self-serving but she’s okay with that because they are also self-preserving. Brett Gelman did wonderful things with Dr. Greg in this episode. He spent the previous two working the pervy-weirdo angle he’s so inherently good at, but in “Tested,” he makes you feel bad for a guy you’ve spent the last hour not liking. Dr. Greg starts to hit on Mickey and her impulse-driven brain believes the best way to deal with the situation is to have sex with her boss and then blackmail him via threatened sexual harassment so she doesn’t fire him. I really hated that Mickey slept with Dr. Greg. It’s not out of character for Mickey to fuck Dr. Greg in order to save herself. So hating that Mickey had sex with Dr. Greg was probably the reaction the writers were going for, especially in concert with one of the episode’s central themes — that our lives go on even after we meet this person we’re destined to couple up with.

Stray observations

  • Starting to love Bertie (Claudia O’Doherty) so much.
  • “My hair looks better better than my face today.”
  • When Mickey responds to Dr. Gregg’s flirtations by saying, “I’m so flattered” with complete disgust, I had such a gut-check reaction. I, and the many women who have had unwanted advances in the office, have had to do the same thing.