What I'm Watching: Lovesick
In theory, Lovesick, my newest Netflix discovery, sounds pretty dire. In summary, it's a British comedy drama about a twenty-something man who discovers he has an STI and is obliged to contact all of his past partners to break the bad news. Yeah. That's the premise. But bear with me. Each episode begins in the present day and then flashes back to tell the story of the girl of the moment. Dylan (Johnny Flynn, our protagonist) is contacting them in alphabetical order, so it's not chronological and we're fed bits of information gradually, which all link in to the overarching will-they-won't they saga of Dylan and his best friend Evie (Antonia Thomas, Sunshine on Leith, The Three Musketeers). In the flashbacks we see her un-requited love for him, in the present, he's realised he feels something for her but by this point she's taken. It's all about the timing.
Despite the...unusual...premise, I was pleasantly surprised by Lovesick. There are currently two seasons on Netflix (before that it was shown on channel four as 'Scrotal Recall'. Urgh.) and both are good, although I did feel there were some plot inconsistencies in series two. The characters are likeable and warm (if sometimes a bit OTT) and the writing's got lots of heart (although it can be a bit crass at times - but nowhere near as much as you'd think.) And it made me laugh a lot. The introduction of new characters each episode keeps the story fresh, the girls are never just stereotypes and you can usually see why Dylan fell for them. But they're all a bit different too, rather than just a parade of glamorous blondes, or whatever. It's also interesting to see how the characters differ in each flashback - whether it was six months or six years ago. How they've developed from that point and what stage Dylan and Evie are at in their love story. The timeline must have been confusing for the actors, and admittedly it can be confusing for the viewer too, especially when we're into series two, as you're constantly having to think about where each piece of the puzzle fits in. Was this before they met, for example, or before they got together that time, or before she met that other guy, etc. Yet it's not essential for you to have it all figured out straight away, I just kind of went with the flow.
For a show that appears to promise edginess and laddish humour, it's actually kind of sweet. It's got a lot of charm and the actors make you invest in the relationships between the characters. Dylan is set up as the 'nice' guy and his best guy friend, Luke (who reminded me a bit of Schmidt from New Girl) as the 'lad' but all of the characters are nice really - if highly flawed and verging on the sex-addicted. The female characters are as well written and as complex as the boys, and there's not a trace of that uncomfortable, underlying misogynistic vibe that you sometimes get in sitcoms and comedy films aimed at a young male audience (cough *Judd Appatow* cough). Instead there's an underlying nice-ness to Lovesick, which becomes more apparent as the episodes go on, and you get to know the characters better. No one's mean or snide-y, people do get hurt but nothing is malicious, and the friendships feel genuine.
Below: The Netflix trailer, and then the Channel 4 trailer - the two together should give you a more rounded idea of what the show is like.
In Summary, Lovesick is much more suited to it's new name than it ever was to it's old one. Yes, some of the humour is pretty crude and there's lots of sleeping around. But it's also surprisingly sweet and unsurprisingly (this is Netflix after all) addictive. It's funny and interesting, and not as edgy as it sounds. My main criticism would be that I doubt they'll have enough material for a third series, and they could have wrapped things up quite neatly at the end of series two, which they probably should have done. Still, I'm not complaining, I'd happily watch more. I loved it.