The end of love is upon us. Sorry, let’s clarify that: The end of Love is upon us.
The indie-minded, underdog romantic comedy about unlikely, spotty lovebirds Mickey (Gillian Jacobs) and Gus (Paul Rust) drops its third and final season on Netflix today. Season 3 of Love resumes in the aftermath/afterglow of Mickey ditching Dustin (Rich Sommer) and surprisingly telling Gus that she was all-in with him. “It’s probably not the healthiest move,” admits Rust. “But maybe it’s a tiptoe toward growth — even though it might not be the best timing.”
Will Mickey’s Dustin dust-up — something that Gus is unaware of — come back to haunt the reunited couple? “Good question — it was motivating us,” says Rust. “We knew that the question was going on in the minds of a lot of people who watched it. It is the question that looms over this season. There’s a hope for justice, for something, with that. And I do find it interesting when in a relationship you don’t get easy moments of justice or vindication, and maybe this show takes some pleasure in denying people that,” he laughs. “But yeah, when we were ending season 2 that way, [we knew] it would be something that would be underneath the surface of everything in season 3.”
Mickey and Gus will begin the season in a very specific golden period of a relationship. “The third season is primarily about what happens when two people who had been working through rocky times at the beginning are actually happy in a relationship and not worried that the other shoe’s going to drop,” says Rust. “So we went in going, ‘Let’s make this an upbeat happy cheerful season.’ Not just purely so that the show’s upbeat, but mainly because we’re like, ‘Oh, at this point in a relationship, this is where two people would be feeling really good.’”
To that end, the season kicks off with a “fun” episode, one in which heading to Palm Springs on a double date with Bertie (Claudia O’Doherty) and Randy (Mike Mitchell), while another installment centers on a couple’s shopping day. “The stuff that was most interesting to us was taking stories that sound as small and minute as possible and then spending a half hour trying to add as much layers and nuances to such a simple thing that it can become something bigger,” says Rust. “That episode was about, ‘Can a couple decide to go on a day where they just go shopping together, but if an argument starts during the day, and then you get away from the argument, will the argument ever rear its head throughout the rest of the day?’”
Last season, viewers met Mickey’s alcoholic, damaging dad, played by Daniel Stern. This season, a pair of familiar faces will play parents to Gus. Ed Begley Jr. will guest-star as Gus’ father, while Kathy Baker appears as his mother. Dad “seems mean but is actually shy,” says Rust, while Mom “seems very loud but is just excited.” Also brace for Vanessa Bayer as Gus’ ex-girlfriend, who — as you can see in this clip below — is having a rough go with The Bangles’ “Eternal Flame.”
While Gus and Mickey just began “to scratch the surface” of solving problems together as season 2 closed out, the beginning of season 3 establishes them as being an effective team, according to Rust. “Then it becomes the storytelling challenge of, ‘What’s the heaviest s— you can be throwing at them in order to really challenge them?’” he says. “So as much as they are in a golden period, that actually affords us the opportunity to really put some challenges in their life, and a lot of the challenges this year, they’ll come from their work but also [from] what it’s always been which is… themselves. The thing that me, Judd [Apatow], and my wife, Leslie [Arfin, who co-created the show with Apatow and Rust], find the most interesting is that there’s not usually villains in real life. The person who ends up causing you the most problems is yourself, and how people get in the way of themselves. So I’d say a lot of the challenges in this season aren’t even necessarily ones that attack them as a couple; it’s more about them finally trying to not be in the way of themselves and self-sabotage.”
Which leads to a critical question: By finale’s end, will this love story end in cheers or tears? Rust promises closure, noting that “it was important to us that people could feel that they watched this and had a full experience.” But he also calls it “a bit of a Rorschach test,” and hints that that there may be different takeaways from the finale. “Something might have the optics that it’s good but it’s actually dark,” hints Rust, “or it might have the optics that it’s dark but it’s actually happy. The thing that I like about the ending is that it’s rife with contradictions.” As is — wait for it — love.