Episode 3 of Love Life begins a year after Bradley as Darby grapples with the prospect of sex. While out and about she sees Augie who’s back and currently dating a girl called Emily. They intend to go on a road trip together but as they talk, it’s an awkward affair to say the least and Darby makes a hasty exit. Back home, she talks to Mallory and Sara contemplating just why he didn’t go on a road trip with her.
For now, Darby heads out to a rooftop party with Sara who ends up kissing another boy and cheating on her partner. This rattles her though and Sara decides to leave, heading back to see Jim while Darby stays at the party and urinates behind some plants.
A boy called Danny spots her and she cuts herself in the commotion, prompting him to invite Darby back to his apartment for food and drinks. She calls him Danny Two Phones, given one of his phones happens to be his ex-Brianna’s and he’s been holding onto it. After convincing him to throw it outside, Danny projects himself onto Darby and after their encounter, she makes up some lies and leaves. Meanwhile, Sara and Jim’s Mum talk together and she tells Sara if she’s not happy then she should let him go.
Darby’s encounter with Danny invigorates her, given she managed to convince him she was someone of higher importance, but her lies backfire when Danny shows up at the art gallery. He calls her out and it causes Darby to feel guilty. Until she spins this into a positive of course, believing she managed to get away before things turned more serious.
In the morning she runs into Augie again and after another awkward encounter, on the eve of their road trip Augie finds himself looking at Darby’s photos on his phone which is where the episode ends.
There are two problems with this episode, which is a shame because most of the material here actually moves the series forward in a positive way. The first comes from Darby’s lying. Trying to spin this into a positive light undermines what the series should have done which is seeing Darby make a bold step and actually speak her mind, letting him down gently and respecting his feelings. This would have given Darby some much-needed development rather than remain as a self-centred protagonist that only looks out for herself.
The other problem comes from Augie’s return in the series which feels far too quick and despite 3 years passing since the last time she saw him, it’s not unreasonable to think he’s a different person now. Her getting caught up over why he didn’t invite her on a road trip feels like it’s playing on Darby’s insecurities rather than painting her in a positive, confident light. Personally, I think this would have worked much better if Darby ended up in a happy relationship this episode and Augie returned, asking her to go on a road trip with him and seeing her conflicted over what to do.
Still, the episode itself does have some positives and seeing Sara given some crucial characterisation is certainly a good step forward and there are some nice jokes dotted throughout as well. For now, HBO Max’s latest series gets off to a very average, indifferent start but whether it can push past that and blossom into something much more consistent remains to be seen.
Published: 28 May 2020 at 8:23 am on