The Lessons I've Learned from Anna Kendrick's HBO Max show, 'Love Life'
Since quarantine started I’ve found myself searching for ways to fill the void of experiences I can’t have. And by experiences I mean the most basic ones, like going to an indoor restaurant, going shopping and trying on hundreds of items and not buying any of them. Even just making it onto the subway right before the doors close to then be smashed up against a random stranger I’ll never see again. You know, the little things in life when nothing stopped us from running onto a subway car or touching every clothing item in the store just because we can.
And I’m probably not the only one here searching for an escape to forget for at least a little that I can’t live in those moments I miss so much. But I’m also missing human connection- the ability to meet people and the possibility to have a romantic connection, on a night or evening out. So when I discovered the HBO Max show Love Life, it surely hit the spot.
This show is a must-watch, not just in quarantine but at any point in your life. It's funny, endearing, romantic, relatable (not now, however). It's the perfect show to watch if your life/love life is incredibly dull (which let’s be honest it probably is).
So let me give you the run-down.
The main character Darby Carter (Anna Kendrick) deals with post-grad life as she discovers herself, what she wants, and ultimately what she deserves. Each episode follows a different “love” she experiences whether it’d be a relationship with her friends, mother, boyfriends, first loves, almost loves, and last loves. Eventually, she finds her person, but it isn’t cliché. She doesn’t discover that she was searching for him all along. It just fits. And her journey to find her person is messy, like the messiest it could get. But that’s okay.
Love Life is perfect for the 20-somethings who grew up watching rom-coms that showed us love wasn’t that messy. Rom-coms show us that the guy you crushed on in high school will come running to you ten years later. They’ll show you that every love story starts with the girl who’s lost searching for her “prince charming.” And she finds him. They go through some messy, pretty predictable drama, but they find their way back to each other, almost always. And if they don’t, then you’re probably not watching a romantic comedy.
Yet, Love Life follows an entirely different, more refreshing narrative, as it debunks everything we’ve been (unfortunately) taught about love. The show suggests that the journey to love isn’t a straight line from one point to another. It is fuzzy; it is unknown; it is confusing; it is heartbreaking, but it is also beautiful.
So, here’s what the main character and I learned during the show. *DISCLAIMER: I will not use any specific names or say exactly what happens. Everything is pretty general but there are some spoilers ahead.*
1. It’s necessary to let a bad one go
Darby realizes throughout one of her relationships that she clung onto the guy because of who he was when they met, or at least who she believed he was. Further, into the relationship, she realized how much she disliked it, and how she constantly made excuses for his bad behavior. She didn’t want to villainize him or fail at love, so she gave him infinite chances until a friend told her it's okay to leave him. It's okay to let go if you know you’ll be happier. Not every commitment results in a life-long one. People break-up and get divorced and re-date and remarry. And that is normal. And despite how difficult it was for Darby to initiate leaving the guy, she said once she did, it was easy, and she didn’t look back.
2. Don’t cling to people from your past
Often, if we are upset in current relationships or lack thereof, we imagine what it’d be like if a past relationship didn’t fail. If it was different timing or circumstances. Darby discovers that she keeps bumping into one of her exes over the years. She finds herself seeing him with another girl and then later stalks his social media. It isn’t entirely clear in the series, but I think Darby never really got over him for several years. And when they see each other again her ex says something interesting, along the lines of “I wonder what would have happened with us if I never left.”
It's the what-if’s that leave people clung to the past. The “I wonder what would have happened ” is the real kicker. And Darby’s story suggests how common it is for people to think about past loves or almost loves. How normal it is to see a chance encounter as fate. But oftentimes it's not. And Darby realizes that maybe love isn’t that magical- it doesn’t always have to be the guy she knew along that she ends up with. And in this case, this ex of hers is not the one for her, as much as she might have thought he was back then.
3. People fall in love with you, not the perfect version of you
At the beginning of the show, Darby isn’t all that happy with her career. And there are times where she lies to guys or friends of her boyfriends about it, in hopes of impressing them. She starts dating one of her boyfriends soon after he divorces who she believes to be the perfect woman. She can’t even believe he wants her after the first girl. And so she sort of reinvents herself with him and does all she can to be the perfect girlfriend. But that gets the best of her, and her insecurities come out in a crazy scene that I will not give away - you just gotta see it.
And Darby even goes to therapy too, but it doesn’t matter how much therapy she’s getting. Because the therapy doesn’t change her in some monumental way. Growth doesn’t occur after some grand moment or therapy session. It happens over time, without you even realizing it. And the show’s writers suggest that too. They suggest that you can’t be 100% “fixed” before you meet the love of your life. Because no one is “fixed” no matter how much therapy they get. People are constantly growing and changing. So Darby, and probably most people, find who they end up with when their life is fulfilled, yet far from perfect.
4. Love isn’t all fireworks
Love isn’t fireworks. When you find the person for you it isn’t always a beautiful masterpiece- it's a moment, a series of moments. It's simple. It's comforting. It's home. So stop searching for fireworks. Stop dreaming of a future with someone when you first meet them. Just let it happen naturally, and don’t think too much into it. It doesn’t have to be out of a movie and it doesn’t have to be some beautiful masterpiece either.
5. Your search shouldn’t be a search at all
Darby finds the guy for her when she’s just having fun. When she isn’t searching for him, and when she isn’t worried about anything. You are your truest, best self when you are carefree and living in the present moment. And that’s when you’re able to find someone who loves you for you.
Darby finds the guy for her after she’s experienced many heartbreaks and losses. But also after she’s experienced a lot of success too. Her life is full and she doesn’t search for someone to fix it, but she finds someone because she isn’t searching for anyone to complete her.
The writers, and Anna Kendrick, did an amazing job of depicting a realistic character whose life journey is so believable that you think it could very well happen to you. There is no "connect-the-dots” type of ending, but it is probably one of the most realistic endings to any fictional love-story I’ve ever watched or read.