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Love episode 208
Credit: Netflix

Gillian Jacobs, who stars as Mickey, the destructive half of the Mickey-and-Gus couple in Netflix’s Love, reflects on “Marty Dobbs,” the eighth episode in season 2 — and a personal favorite. The entire season is streaming now.

I love this episode of Love (ha ha) because it introduces us to Mickey’s dad Marty, played by the great Daniel Stern, and gives us a lot of insight into why Mickey is Mickey. I’m so glad Lynn Shelton directed this episode because she has such a gentle touch as a director, but also great self-assurance and confidence on set.

Daniel, Lynn, and I got together before we shot the episode to talk about the character’s history and the complicated dynamic between Mickey and her father. You don’t often get a chance to rehearse when making a TV show, but I relished the chance to get to know Daniel before we started work.

In addition to the tension between Mickey and Marty, his appearance inevitably causes friction between Mickey and Gus (played by Paul Rust). Mickey is hoping Gus will act as a buffer between her and her father. With a stranger there, Mickey reasons, Dad is more likely to be on good behavior. Gus takes it upon himself to charm Mickey’s dad. His need to people please leads him to break Mickey’s anonymity in an attempt to mollify her dad.

I thought the fight between Mickey and Gus at the episode was really interesting. Mickey unrealistically expected Gus to make everything better, and Gus broke a fundamental rule of AA because he placed the need for equanimity above Mickey’s privacy. Both are right and both are wrong, but their ability to ratchet down the fight showed growth on their parts.

In the end, expectation was the root cause of disappointment. Mickey hoped that this visit with her dad would be different. She wants him to be impressed by her “normal” boyfriend, her promotion, and her nice apartment. Gus believes he can charm all parents, but Marty Dobbs is not all dads.

Parents and children are often unable to see each other as the really are. Mickey is clinging to the hope that her dad will change. He’ll be more loving, less narcissistic, and give her the affirmation she craves. Marty still sees Mickey as a lovable f—-up, and he doesn’t see the changes she’s trying to make. He’s threatened by her sobriety because of his own dysfunctional relationship to alcohol.

This episode shows us how much Mickey is like her father and how hard she’s fighting to push against him. Her growth comes in fits and starts, but she’s achieved a level of self-awareness that makes change a possibility.

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