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

Love separates Gus and Mickey, yet they still manage to do damage to each other

Illustration for article titled Love separates Gus and Mickey, yet they still manage to do damage to each other

“Hey, Real talk. last night was a mistake. I don’t blame you but i think we both know it was wrong.”

That’s the text that Mickey keeps trying to send to Gus after their parking lot tryst. But, of course, Gus already knows it was a mistake. He shouldn’t have texted her the picture of Michael Landon’s hair, he shouldn’t have met her snacks, he shouldn’t have fucked her in the parking lot. In “Friends Night Out,” we get this fucked up rom-com version of how Mickey and Gus’ relationship should play out. They both pine for each other while they are apart — she smells his t-shirt, he proactively rebuffs the advances of another woman — and they are cute and smiley when they finally meet up again, but twinged with the assholishness that pervades each character. They pine for each other because everyone else can’t stand them. In “While You Were Sleeping,” there’s the actual consequences of their ”happy ending.” By disregarding what Mickey wanted, or at least said she wanted — minimal contact — and then getting what he wanted — sex — Gus finally figures out that he’s done more harm than good. That her addictions are not the cute quirks of movies, but actually problems deeply manifested within her.

So Gus and Mickey spend “While You Were Sleeping” apart without the sweet reunion of “Friends Night Out.” Yet, they still pervade each other’s thoughts and actions. Mickey keeps returning to the text. Gus continues to rebuff the affections of beautiful women who feel the need to throw themselves at him sexually.

I like the episodes of Love where it’s just Mickey and Gus (okay, and Bertie, always Bertie) the best and these diversions into their lives outside of each other, particularly their professional lives, never interest me as much as when they have their own adventures and their sweet, silly, and messy chemistry sets the tone for the episode. Things get messier when the thrust of the episode isn’t about just the two of them or their evolving, and often damaging, relationship with each other.

Mickey gets embroiled in the personal life of her coworker Truman (Bobby Lee), who convinces her that his car has been stolen by her boxer girlfriend who sleeps with other people but doesn’t allow him to do the same. This is all lies, as Truman’s story gets more ridiculous and his girlfriend actually comes home. But Mickey is so quick to believe this guy, and help him even as his story gets increasingly odd. Her intentions are good, she wants to help her friend, but even that’s not successful as the true story comes out: Truman is a terrible person. (“I gave him $400 last week and you know what he did? Bet on me to lose.” “Your knee was way worse than you said it was. I thought I had insider information.”)

Mickey still sees herself as this savior for Truman, putting herself on the line in order to save him. But she’s not a savior at all, just an unwitting participant in Lily and Truman’s severely damaged relationship. Like “On Lockdown,” Love goes big with it’s semi-car chase and Lily throwing herself onto the hood of a car to stop Mickey and Truman, and I agree with Erik that those setpieces don’t jive as well with Love’s quieter, better moments. And like in “Friends Night Out,” Mickey is stirring shit for shit’s stirring shake. She believes she’s bettering herself by going to meetings and justifying her relationship with Gus with actual feelings, but she’s still just causing trouble in an effort to try to make her own life that much more interesting by participating in someone else’s shitstorm of a relationship. What redeems this storyline in the way that it’s true to the central theme of the show is that same inability, or refusal, to learn and grow. Truman and Lily stay together in the end because of some apparently expert cunnilingus skills, and therefore Mickey’s sees no wrong in either Truman’s behavior or her own.


Gus returns to Witchita, where he was fired from the writer’s room in after a meltdown that rivaled a Mr. Belvedere testicle injury story that was heretofore unaware of but is apparently true (perhaps Judd Apatow heard the story from his buddy Adam Sandler who was a guest star on the episode in question). The set of Witchita seems to be at odds with the way of the rest of his life works in which he tends toward “the blameless nice guy.” He can justify his way in and out of most situations because he’s a good guy, who often doesn’t understand his own self-serving intentions. But there’s almost a sort of cosmic retribution as Heidi (the wonderful Briga Heelan, who is about to be Tina Fey’s next leading lady) as she blames Gus for an intangible agida that he’s seemingly caused in her life and career. That feeling escalates even further as a stuntman accidentally falls from the steeple that’s supposed to serve as the mechanism for Heidi’s character’s demise, and everyone blames Gus for it as if his episode included a guy’s horrific injury (“He fell just like a rock! Just like a rock on the floor”). While I do enjoy Iris Apatow’s disturbingly wise beyond her years Arya, Gus’ work life never interests me as much as his personal one does, where he lucks into opportunity only to royally fuck it up. I suppose his entertainment industry job gives texture to Love’s Los Angeles setting, but I was particularly irked in this episode by the conclusion of this storyline as his boss Susan (Tracie Thorns) propositions him after he drives her home. These beautiful women throw themselves at Gus for no particular reason. This isn’t a knock on Paul Rust’s looks, but Gus as a character. The only time within Susan looks at Gus with anything but disdain is when they’re laughing at scatalogical double entendre (“All that shit comes out my back end”). Gus’ rejection of Susan demonstrates how Mickey has already infiltrated his life yet again despite all of her desires to take it slow, but he’s already thrown himself all in.

As the episode ends, Gus and his friends make up the theme song to While You Were Sleeping, an activity that Mickey has clear disdain for, while she still pines for him. Like the addict that she is, she justifies her way into this relationship with Gus. She goes to meetings so it’s fine, she’s likes him so is fine. She goes to sleep fiending, as the object of her need participates in an activity that she can’t stand.


Stray observations

  • The on-set Hitchcock conversation was the worst in the best way. It brought me back to college in the most viscerally awful way, which in a weird way made it great.
  • “It’s particularly traumatizing for me … I basically watched myself die.”
  • “I had a show about med school on the air for four years. i know what a fucking clavicle is.”
  • “I feel like vomiting. I haven’t run in like 10 years.”