REVIEW: ‘Love Life,’ Season 2 Episode 1 – “Mia Hines”

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Love Life Season 2 Episode 1 - But Why Tho

Love Life was undoubtedly one of my favorite shows of 2020, let alone one of the best surprises of HBO Max’s launch lineup. The first season, starring Anna Kendrick was as a slow-burn dismantling of everything I expected out of a rom-com. It started me off thinking it was just another love story waiting to happen but ended up a treatise on the dangers of unrealistic expectations around love and relationships and the joys of finding your own kind of love, just right for you. Love Life Season 2, this time starring William Jackson Harper, is just the right start to a new chapter in this anthology series.

There are two things Love Life Season 2 does at the start to establish itself as a more than worthy successor to the first season: it offers an absolutely lovable, flawed main character, and it presents him in a pretty un-romantic comedy situation. Jackson Harper’s Marcus is magnetic, and not just because he’s hot or because he’s funny. His whole personality as a person who is constantly putting on a show for others rather than living life for himself is utterly relatable and appealing as a character. In part, because he’s constantly putting on a show, it means we’re constantly seeing different sides of his personality. Jackson Harper acts it all so darned well, to the point where you can certainly tell when he’s feeling genuine joy, even when it’s fleeting, compared to when he is just putting on a happy face to seem appealing to other people. And this episode puts him through some tough things, so those breaks between the acts hit hard and have you in total empathy all the way through.

It’s unclear whether depicting Marcus’s wife Emily (Maya Kazan) as a perpetrator of their boring life was a framing device designed to make Marcus more quicky sympathetic or if she’ll return later in the show, so I’ll reserve judgment on how I feel about her portrayal. But Mia (Jessica Williams) is a great first love interest for this season. Marcus and Emily are still together and Emily is totally unaware of Marcus’s concerns about their dwindling love. So starting off with a plot where the main character becomes infatuated with a woman who is also in a relationship is certainly not your typical rom-com fair. She’s totally electrifying as she asks awkward questions and gets under Marcus’s skin. You can’t help but understand exactly why he’s crushing so hard on her.

The opening episode of Love Life Season 2 also sets up potential long-term questions for Marcus to have to navigate. This episode focuses heavily on how Marcus has never particularly dated Black women before. He has this pointed out to him pretty starkly and has multiple moments where his position in Black political and social standings are called into question. It’s surely a theme that will resonate throughout his story as he explores what love means for him.

Love Life Season 2 starts off on exactly the right foot with a captivating performance from its new main actor and an opening premise totally outside of the typical rom-com tropes. I absolutely cannot wait for the rest of the season.

Love Life Season 2 is streaming now on HBO Max.


Love Life Season 2 - Episode 1 "Mia Hines"
  • 8.5/10
    Rating - 8.5/10
8.5/10

TL;DR

Love Life Season 2 starts off on exactly the right foot with a captivating performance from its new main actor and an opening premise totally outside of the typical rom-com tropes. I absolutely cannot wait for the rest of the season.