Review: Love Life – Fun Romantic Romp To Kickstart HBO Max’s Roster
With the launch of the new streaming service HBO Max coming at such a perfect time, everyone seems ecstatic to have another silver tray of entertainment options delivered (contact-free, of course) right into their homes. Right off the bat, there are plenty of different TV shows and movies both old and new to be watched on this service, but perhaps most interesting are the new Max Originals that will be coming out both immediately and over time. Things like a Gossip Girl sequel/reboot, an Adventure Time revival miniseries, and a long-awaited Friends reunion special were immediate attention grabbers for fans of the originals, and those are only the pre-existing properties. It’ll be exciting to see what HBO Max does with its fully original creations, as they have all the space, creativity, and platform they could ask for to make and distribute whatever zany ideas that they come up with. So long as they let the imaginations of the creatives run free, they have a great opportunity to put roots in with brand new shows and movies that, if they get enough good buzz, can be a major factor in enticing people to try out their streaming service. Enter their newest romantic comedy series, Love Life. It’ll be premiering alongside the launching of the service, and already people seem intrigued. Since we were able to get a preview of the show from our friends over at HBO Max, let’s see if Love Life has the potential to draw in the digital crowds.
Created and co-written by Sam Boyd, Love Life boasts Anna Kendrick as our main lead Darby, an eccentric photographer living in the big city on the hunt for love. The series as a whole is meant to document her journey from first official relationship to last, and is narrated by Lesley Manville almost in the style of a nature documentary. We follow her through the ups and downs of searching for a romantic partner while also trying to explore her own passions as a museum tour guide and budding art curator. She lives in a surprisingly nice New York City apartment with her two best friends, Sara (Zoë Chao) and Mallory (Sasha Compère). The show has already garnered some comparisons to the well-known series Sex and the City for its general setup, although the focus of this show is much more firmly set on Darby than her friends. The schtick is that each episode covers one relationship, so the series takes place over a stretch of multiple years and shows how each relationship affects Darby’s life. It does prove fun to watch it all unfold, whether it be a meet-cute with a cute guy at a party named Augie (Jin Ha) who is set to leave NYC soon, or a fling with her boss turned into a full-fledged relationship, or even a one night stand turned a bit more obsessive than originally intended. And just like that, we’re pulled into an expansive journey through Darby’s romantic exploits.
The best quality of this show is that it is extremely binge-worthy, each episode making it easier to press play on the next as its light and fun premise keeps your attention. So it can certainly hold audiences in once they’re already watching, but will it be enough to grab the fickle eyes of those not yet subscribed to HBO Max? The answer is a resounding maybe, as it depends on what you’re looking for. Anna Kendrick fans will no doubt be excited to see her in another role that she makes her own, bringing her signature awkward charm even to lines that may not have been very funny otherwise. Not to say there aren’t some innately funny lines in here, because some of them definitely land. Darby in of herself is an interesting character, as she starts the series as somewhat unlikeable, but if this was done on purpose and the season ends by showing how much she’s grown through the episodes, then this would be a fantastic idea. This would be an especially great precedent to set as it seems that, if renewed, they plan to focus the following seasons on entirely new main characters and their own search for love. As a show gimmick, this holds a lot of potential to really branch out from typical romcom leads like Darby and dive into some interesting and diverse characters that may not typically fall into these sorts of roles. It’s a definite golden opportunity here, and a couple great seasons of these different stories could bode well for crafting an identity and making a name for HBO Max Originals.
Love Life is something to consider binging if you’re feeling like watching a romantic comedy that most likely won’t shock you but won’t talk down to you either. It has a few moments of cringe-worthy humor, but it doesn’t rely on it as a crutch as other films and shows sometimes can. I personally haven’t seen the end of the season yet as it wasn’t in the preview, but I hope it shows a more mature and developed version of Darby, whether she finds “the one” or leaves it off on a more open-ended note. I hope that she has learned and grown from each relationship right in front of our eyes, making a character that began as immature and naive end the season as a much more well-rounded person. I also hope to see more interesting ideas for how to tackle the next season in a unique way, since building up a reputation of putting new spins on well-known ideas and giving the spotlight to lesser-told romance stories is just what this show needs to hone in on in order to reach peak success. But as it stands now, Love Life is an entertaining way to laugh a bit and enjoy a sweet romantic comedy anthology show, with plenty of potential for a new fan favorite to grow.