Love Life, an original romantic comedy series being offered by the new streaming service HBO Max, focuses on Darby, a twenty-something who is looking for love, played by Anna Kendrick.
Each episode focuses on Darby’s love interest so fittingly, the episode titles are all the names of said love interest.
10 episodes in the first season and no plans for a second season being announced as of yet, maybe Darby will find her true love by the end of season one. Without knowing what the future holds for the series, hopeless romantics like myself will have to hope for the best.
Initially after watching the first episode entitled Augie Jeong, similarities to another HBO original from years ago, Sex and the City come to mind, but it deserves more credit than that. Yes, it is about a girl in New York looking for love, but this series has a younger vibe to it and seems more innocent, where Sex and the City, and its characters, seemed more jaded.
Both series are narrated, but unlike Sex and the City where the infamous Carrie Bradshaw was the narrator of her story, Love Life is narrated by an at-this-time unknown woman with a British accent. Maybe we will find out who she is later.
Episode one tells us the story of Darby and her first real adult love, Augie, who meet at a bar. Darby is working for Bradley Field at a museum as a tour guide. Augie is a sweet guy and you can understand why Darby falls for him and is so heartbroken when he tells her about a job offer he has received that is too good to pass up, so he will be leaving the city soon. The two decide to try long-distance when they spend their last night together at Bradley’s wedding.
In the second episode, which takes place a year later, Augie is no longer in the picture and Darby meets up again with her old boss Bradley, who is now going through a divorce. Although there is a substantial difference in their ages, Darby and Bradley begin dating, but throughout the episode you see Darby letting go of her dreams and becoming the hostess type that works best with Bradley. Darby seems happy and her friends love to spend time with her at Bradley’s well-equipped apartment, but things quickly change when Bradley’s father passes. The couple, including an understandably upset Bradley, attend the wake at his family home.
Darby feels uncomfortable at the event and doesn’t seem to fit in, and that feeling increases when Bradley’s soon-to-be ex-wife Kate shows up and is obviously still a favorite of and very close with Bradley’s mother. Darby spends the day drinking, ending up with her head in a toilet, and later carrying her belongings from Bradley’s apartment to the train to return to her roommates.
The third episode takes place shortly after the break-up with Bradley. Darby’s roommate Sara convinces her to attend a roof-top party, giving Sara the excuse to miss her live-in boyfriend Jim’s family gathering. Sara leaves after a short time to go to Jim, but Darby decides to stay and meets Danny. Initially, he doesn’t make a very good impression on Darby, but after she injures her leg and he offers to administer some first aid, Darby and Danny begin to get to know each other.
Darby notices that Danny has two phones, which they both joke is a classic indication of being a drug dealer, but his reasoning is more complicated. Danny is keeping the old phone active because it contains voicemails from his ex that he doesn’t want to lose.
Although not prone to one-night stands, Darby has sex with Danny. She knows this is not going to be a relationship, and is fine with that, feeling a bit of freedom and no pressure. After, the two talk more about how hanging on to the old phone isn’t good for Danny and he decides to get rid of it and throws it out the window. Darby cheers him on until realizing that Danny was ok letting go of the phone because he thinks that she can be the replacement for his old girlfriend. Panicked, Darby quickly makes up a story about moving in two days and beats a hasty retreat.
A week later, Darby is working at her new museum job when Danny shows up and sees her. He realizes that she lied to avoid his attentions and lets her know how she has hurt him. Although she feels bad about it, Darby acknowledges it is nice to know that she wasn’t the one who left.
Episode four is titled Magnus Lund and starts with Darby getting more used to the one-night stand. Her roommates see different men coming from Darby’s room in the morning, but one stands out. Magnus Lund, a sous chef at a local restaurant, begins appearing more often. He charms not only Darby but her roommates as well. His career shows promise and seems to be following the same track as Darby’s, which is heading on an upward tick. Darby is now the assistant to Naomi, who takes up all of Darby’s time and causes her quite a bit of stress. But Darby is up for a promotion, Magnus meets her mother and brother and makes a great impression, and the two begin talking about their futures together. Magnus moves into the apartment with Darby and her friends.
Magnus seems perfect, although not the most responsible. Darby is continuing to work hard and finally finds out that she has gotten the promotion to Assistant Sales Associate. When she rushes home to tell Magnus the good news she finds out that he has lost his job and in the coming weeks shows he is not very interested in finding another.
Darby has finally had enough with Magnus not working and lets him know how she feels. He wakes her up the next morning dressed in a suit, advising that he is going out to find a new job, but later does not show up at home and is not answering calls or texts.
Concerned, Darby begins to go through Magnus’ things to try and get some hint as to where he could be and finds many past due bills and indications of a huge amount of debt and financial irresponsibility.
Magnus shows the next morning, looking a mess, saying that he went away to think and realizes how much Darby means to him, gets down on one knee and proposes.
Will Darby say yes? Can Magnus get his life straightened out? From all indications, the answer to that question would be no, but we shall see in the future episodes of Love Life.
Love Life Recap – Rejection Sucks (1×05)
Your past teaches you lessons that you can use in your future, but as we learn in episode 5 of Love Life, the original series from HBO Max, ignoring your past can cause you to make the same mistakes over and over.
This episode starts as all the others have, with the unknown narrator giving us some insight into Darby’s life, who according to her, has ignored her past.
Darby has decided to see a therapist but doesn’t seem very comfortable talking to someone she refers to as a “stranger.” The therapist points out that being a stranger is kind of the whole point, you can talk to that person without judgement or history.
The therapist asks Darby to just start talking. Darby recounts a recent situation with her boyfriend talking her into buying a $2000 sofa that they neither needed or could afford. Rather than disagreeing with her boyfriend, Darby suggests that they buy the matching ottoman as well. When the therapist asks why and Darby explains how he has a way of talking her into things, the therapist comments that it sounds as if Darby was steamrolled into the purchase and asks why she didn’t express that to him.
Darby confesses that if she did, it would cause a fight and she feared he would reject her.
And so our story begins for this episode.
Rejection sucks, it really does. Everyone has experienced it in some form or other, but as Darby tells the therapist about her first times dealing with it, you see how it can affect one person more strongly than others, and that Darby doesn’t realize that she has felt rejected before this situation.
When Darby was 15 and being shuttled between the households of her divorced parents, she didn’t feel that she belonged anywhere. Darby decides to apply for a boarding school across the country, hoping her parents would stop her because she is so important to the family, but is disappointed to see that they allow her to go.
During her first Thanksgiving break, she is one of the few to stay on at the school because her parents have their own plans. Darby heads to the cafeteria to grab something to eat and sits with a group of gamers, who she doesn’t seem to have a lot in common with. While sitting there, Luke Ducharme walks in wearing a robe and bottoms,
The two begin talking and go off together to smoke some marijuana and kiss. A romantic montage begins showing the two together throughout the Thanksgiving break.
Once students return and classes begin, Darby tell her roommate about her time with Luke and is warned that he is a player. She denies any feelings for him and says they are keeping it casual, although Darby obviously feels more than she is letting on.
Darby starts to notice Luke pulling back and tries to stay close by joining the cast of the school musical Cats which he stars in. Luke uses the excuse that he is just busy.
One day Darby comes back to her room and notices her roommate has hung a hair tie on the door handle, indicating no entry. A few minutes later, Luke comes out of the room.
Darby is upset but when her roommate comes out and finds her crying, she denies being upset over them hooking up and blurts out the excuse that she is upset due to a recent cancer diagnosis. Of course this is not true, but trying to save face is more important than the truth when you are young and hurt.
Fellow students, as well as the Dean begin to hear about the diagnosis and approach Darby extending their concerns and support.
Luke comes to Darby’s door and asks her to take a walk with him. Wearing a “Live Strong” bracelet, Luke tells Darby he is sorry and that he loves her.
It isn’t long before Darby is found out and embarrassed, drops out of the school.
Her parents come together to pick her up and take her home. They ask Darby why she lied, and she says that she just wants to go home and be with them, even if they don’t want her there, showing where her original feelings of rejections came from.
Darby’s father is shocked and tells her that of course they want her and love her. Her mother’s response is that Darby can be thankful that she wasn’t at the school long and those she met will probably not remember her.
Darby tell the therapist how embarrassed she was, the therapist responds that it sounds more than embarrassing, it sounds traumatizing.
The therapy session is ending and the therapist asks Darby to think about why she feels that she doesn’t deserve love so they can talk about that during the next week’s session.
The final scene shows Darby grocery shopping. The narrator lets us know that Darby did not return to therapy. Darby is wearing an engagement ring and Magnus from the last episode is there with her.
This episode of Love Life was heart wrenching. Anyone who has felt the pain of rejection can sympathize with Darby, hoping that in some future episode, she finds the love and happiness she obviously wants so badly.
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