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Anna Kendrick's 'Love Life' on HBO Max is Basic as Hell (Not an Insult)

By Dustin Rowles | TV | June 1, 2020 |

By Dustin Rowles | TV | June 1, 2020 |


HBO Max launched last week, and with it, the first original series exclusive to the new streaming network. Love Life stars Anna Kendrick, who is something of a ubiquitous presence in the streaming wars, having appeared in Noelle, an original movie from Disney+; Dummy, a new series for Quibi (remember Quibi?); and even as a voice in Human Discoveries, an animated series for the already defunct Facebook Watch.

Basically, if you want to launch a new streaming service, Anna Kendrick is available, and she’s kind of perfect if you’re looking for an actress who is familiar and unproblematic, in that few people have strong opinions about Anna Kendrick, either way. She’s fine! She was great in Pitch Perfect! She’s a very capable actress and suitable for a cute rom-com series.

That’s exactly what Love Life is: It’s How I Met Your Mother crossed with Sex and the City. It’s a fastball down the middle. It’s an easy and enjoyable half-hour comedy, almost refreshingly apolitical, adamantly refusing to take a stand on anything that does not pertain to dating.

Kendrick stars as Darby, who will spend the entire series looking for the perfect dude, although it’s clear that she probably found him in the first episode with Augie Jeong (the fabulous Jin Ha). He’s the Mother, or the Mr. Big, and she will probably spend the rest of the series trying to circle back to him. (If that’s not the case, writer/creator Sam Boyd should be fired from his own show, because Jin Ha is the best reason to watch Love Life).

In the meantime, each episode it appears will explore a different disastrous relationship, like the one with her recently divorced, former boss (Scott McNairy), or the one-night stand (Gus Halper) who quickly develops an intense obsession with her. There’s also the best friend character, Sara (Zoe Chao), who it’s fairly clear will end up being a more interesting character than Darby, as she navigates her committed relationship with Jim (Peter Vack). Darby also has another roommate and best friend, Mallory (Sasha Compère), although the series hasn’t utilized her much yet.

It’s a very basic rom-com series, light and funny, but with enough profanity, sexual content, and uncomfortable awkwardness to make it feel slightly edgy. It’s not, but that’s not really a knock against it, either. If you loved the Drew Barrymore, Kate Hudson, Cameron Diaz, Katherine Heigl rom-coms of the ’90s and aughts, Love Life is basically heroin, and HBO knows it. HBO Max has, in fact, decided to make it available in larger doses over the next couple of weeks, as it compressed what was supposed to be a 10-episode, eight-week rollout into three weeks. I can’t speak for everyone else, but I’m already priming my veins for more smack.

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Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.

Header Image Source: HBO Max