The series produced by and starring Anna Kendrick devote each episode to witty analysis of relationship types
Romantic comedy is always a tough genre to tackle while maintaining some semblance of originality, primarily because, apart from the fact that it sometimes seems showrunners are trying to reinvent the wheel, often titles with the most groundbreaking blurbs tend to get tangled up in the very same clichés they had intended to overcome. On TV, the problem is even more entrenched, because love and heartbreak-themed comedy tends to recast the same mold that in the end, always jumps at the chance to exalt traditional values. Hit series like “Friends” and “How I Met Your Mother” are practical examples: they are remarkably effective mirrors of everyday habits and are fun into the bargain, but eventually every orange finds its other half and the concept of loneliness seems to be treated akin to the antichrist.
Of course, there are exceptions to the rule. Take “Match” for instance, a Norwegian series in which the sentimental life of the protagonists is literally broadcast by two sports commentators, or the remarkable new version of “High Fidelity”, in which our leading man breaks down the Fourth Wall to talk about his conflicts of the heart. And given that it is still on-air, so to speak, only time will tell whether “Love Life” manages to shatter the stereotype, although it does appear to be well on the right track. Produced by and starring Anna Kendrick and released on HBO, the series is based on a genuinely great idea. As if it were a romantic version of “13 Reasons Why”, each episode is devoted to analyzing, in romantic comedy anthology vein, the successive relationships of Darby, a girl who starts out with the common perception about what falling in love means, that is until her experiences begin to convince her that every person is a world apart and that love is anything but an exact science.
The boyfriend structure per episode is by no means a mere afterthought: narrated as a picture-postcard but satirizing the genre’s common pitfalls (the narrator’s comments are often hilarious), each segment strives to ensure a style its own. Thus, while Darby is naivety personified, the visual conception of the episode is prototypical and bubble-wrapped, but that all changes when Anna’s emotional state becomes more chaotic and unpredictable as the narrative responds with more irreverent airs. In the midst of everything, those at the helm never let their guard down and preserve a certain cutting humor when referring to our tendency to expect fairy tales and to idealize situations and contexts that, deep down, are utterly absurd. If at times it seems it’ll fall headlong into the very behavior the show sets out to critique, the lashings of black humor pave its road to redemption.
“Love Life” sticks out because it belongs to a category of series that’ll have you cringing and begging for the protagonist to not do what you know she’s about to. There’s a paradigmatic scene at a funeral which is absolutely priceless. The show’s portrayal of each of Kendrick’s partners is also right on the money. They have managed to make each suitor wholly credible and familiar because we’ve all experienced similar moments with characters like these. That said, it’s clear the series wouldn’t be what it is without Kendrick, a splendid actress (and singer) who, based on her filmography, seems to take “Love Life” as a healthy self-parody.