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‘Love Life’ Episodes 1, 2, 3 Review: Stereotypical relationships and uninspiring plotlines fail to impress

The HBO Max original romantic comedy opens with age-old notions and nuances of dating life, resulting in an uninteresting watch. But is there scope for better in the coming episodes? Let's find out
Anna Kendrick, Jin Ha and Scoot McNairy in 'Love Life' (IMDb)
Anna Kendrick, Jin Ha and Scoot McNairy in 'Love Life' (IMDb)

Spoilers for 'Love Life' Episodes 1, 2 and 3

Love stories, relationship stories, and dating escapades have been explored on TV plenty of times. ‘Love Life’ appears no different, at least not in the first three episodes that it aired. Joining the bandwagon of romantic misadventures, which have entertained people for years, is the story of Darby Carter (Anna Kendrick). Darby is a 20-something young woman, living in New York City with her friends Sara (Zoe Chao) and Mallory (Sasha Compere), in an uptown apartment, enjoying the quintessential, metrosexual lifestyle of the Big Apple, and all its quirks, while wading through the sticky waters of love and relationships. There are good days and bad days, but there is always a “problem” with every relationship she experiences. Or so it appears in the initial episodes.

For context, the series opens with clips of Darby’s metropolitan life and streams of casual dates and one-night stands, until she meets Augie Jeong (Jin Ha). The first episode explores her first, so to speak, proper romance but only to be cut short as Augie leaves town in pursuit of a better career. Then, after a year of solitude and time away from men, she gets together with her ex-boss, Bradley (Scoot McNairy) who is apparently going through a divorce. This relationship sees Darby investing herself completely, for lack of anything else in her life. Unfortunately, losing his father makes Bradley withdrawn from the relationship.

The third episode is not about a relationship per se, but more about how Darby finds a man contrary to her clichéd belief. Danny is like no other man she had met earlier and seems to be hooked onto her from the very first encounter. Despite her best efforts to escape him, Darby ends up giving him a second chance. But to see what happens next, you would need to wait for the next episode.

Anna Kendrick as Darby Carter in HBO Max's Love Life (IMDb)

So far, if the protagonist and her adventures all seem quite familiar, then don't be surprised! We have touched upon this briefly before and this time, in detail. The uncanny and probably unintentional similarity to ‘Sex and the City’ is glaring and it somehow seems a misfit in current times. For those acquainted with the former HBO landmark rom-com, they can very well identify the classic elements of a clueless, New Yorker, struggling to be self-aware and seek her “love forever." Kendrick’s Darby might be a millennial but is quite akin to Sarah Jessica Parker’s Carrie Bradshaw. Unfortunately, it is rather an unnecessary and futile attempt in bringing back the Carrie vibes, in her relentless search of her Mr Big. While there’s nothing wrong is reprising an iconic female character in a new package, the question that needs answer to is -- do we need this in the present times? Perhaps not!

One might argue that the need for love, relationships, companionships, etc always remains. Yes, they do, but people’s approach to them changes with changing times and lifestyles. And during a time when we all are seeking fresh stories and newer perspectives to life, a repackaged old material does not do the needful. Adding to the banality of plotlines is the stream of clichéd one-liners and reactions of Darby, which might seem apt for a '90s female New Yorker, but not for a modern, 21st-century woman who lives in the ever-encompassing world of social media and information overload. What throws you off more is the voiceover at the very beginning, with the narrator telling the story of Darby Carter, from her childhood to her adult life and at milestones in her life. The fairytale-like packaging does not quite resonate with the narrative.

To summarize, all three episodes dealt with one and the same thing. While the men in Darby’s life kept changing, it followed similar patterns. She might have evolved and changed a little with every new experience, it doesn’t much do for the audience. Unlike what it promised in its promotions, ‘Love Life’ fails to impress in its initial episodes, but perhaps it might turn around and change our perception. Guess, the coming episodes will tell!

‘Love Life’ premiered Wednesday, May 27, with three episodes on HBO Max. New episodes will be released every Thursday from the following week.