Love Life was one of my surprise favorites of 2020. Creator Sam Boyd delivered an incredible deconstruction of the classic romantic comedy structure with this HBO Max original. So when it was announced that William Jackson Harper would lead Season 2 and turn the series into an anthology, following different characters’ love lives each season, I was beyond excited. The first season was so good, and who doesn’t love Willian Jackson Harper? But I was also excited because I just had no idea what kind of story the new season might try to tell through the show’s real-to-life style while distinguishing it from the first season. Well, the Love Life Season 2 finale did it. And not only did it deliver a perfect second season, but it managed to make me feel better about my own love life, and it just might make you feel better about yours too.
When Season 1 came out, I was living at my parent’s house. The pandemic was still fresh, I’d been struggling with mental health and recovering from the change to a long-term relationship, and to top it all off, my dog had died recently. It was a pretty terrible time for everyone in May 2020, and Love Life was one of the very, very few forms of entertainment I was even able to enjoy because of its combination of feeling utterly real and eternally hopeful no matter what. Now, we’re 19 months into this. I’m still single and having a tough time with it, but I’m all moved out; I’m a bit more settled into myself, and the pandemic is still awful, but at least a bit more hopeful these days.
The Love Life Season 2 finale came at precisely the right time. I have to change health insurance, so I can’t see my therapist anymore, I’m struggling to make friends in the suburbs of New Jersey, and this finale was a reminder that, you know what, life just isn’t perfect. It’s a mess, actually. But you’ve got two choices: to let that mess ruin everything or to embrace the twists and turns, the imperfections, and the losses.
Marcus (Jackson Harper) starts off these final four episodes in a really bad place (no pun intended, I swear). Well, actually, before that, Mia (Jessica Williams) gets an amazing episode all to herself that ends in her and Marcus breaking up. But the remaining episodes drill in deep on the central question asked in Episode 1: who really is Marcus Watkins? With episodes about embracing types of love beyond the romantic, including with his best friends, with his family, and even himself, the final two and a half episodes beautifully emerge from Marcus’s doldrums and glide into one bumpy but beautiful ending.
There are three moments where the show does exactly the thing I needed to see because they are precisely the things I’ve been struggling through too. Marcus forgave somebody he used to love, he forgave a person he loved, and he forgave himself for all of the ways they and he’d been selfish or cruel or unfair. And he accepted that nobody, not those others and certainly not himself, would ever be perfect. But that’s what makes life beautiful—going through its imperfections with people who matter a lot. And the Love Life Season 2 finale nails this perfectly specifically because, for once in the history of television, people actually talk to each other. It just took a bad trip in the woods and a pandemic (yes, the show tactfully dives into pandemic life and shows, incredibly, how life can still go on despite it). But through that mess and more, Marcus still gets there specifically because he both communicates his feelings and listens to others in real, genuine ways for maybe the first time in his life.
I don’t know what comes next in my life, how could anybody, but Marcu’s example of persistence through the worst and his ability to find his version of a love life is exemplary storytelling and feels incredibly real. Everything about the first two arcs pays off, from Marcus’s detachment from his full self to the discussions about race and relationships with the most important people in your life. The Love Life Season 2 finale was the perfect ending to one of the most slept-on shows streaming today.
Love Life Season 2 is streaming now on HBO Max.
Love Life Season 2 Finale
- Rating - 10/1010/10
Everything about the first two arcs pays off, from Marcus’s detachment from his full self to the discussions about race and relationships with the most important people in your life. The Love Life Season 2 finale was the perfect ending to one of the most slept-on shows streaming today.