Netflix Review – Lovesick (2016)

Netflix is the gift that keeps on giving when it comes to giving us things to watch. Yes it is full of lousy movies and TV shows that we’ll never consider watching, but it has made up for this mediocre collection by giving us an impressive library of original shows and movies that have made the streaming service a real threat to the conventional TV networks.

In addition to providing its own original programming, Netflix has established itself as something of a TV necromancer able to resurrect shows that many thought dead and buried, with Arrested Development, The Killing and Fuller House being some of its most notable resurrections.

Although one of its more surprising TV revivals comes in the form of the British romantic comedy series Lovesick, a show most of you might not have heard of before. That’s probably because when it originally aired on Channel 4 back in 2014 some idiot thought it a good idea to call the show Scrotal Recall, and as you would expect with a title that dumb, it didn’t catch on with viewers and was quietly cancelled, seemingly destined to be forgotten.

Except that’s not what happened, instead Netflix adds the series, now re-titled to the more appropriate Lovesick, to its service and it proves enough of a hit with viewers that they bring it back for a second season. So was this latest example of Netflix’s resurrection powers worth the effort and was the show really that bad in the first place to earn its idiotic original title?

The series follows Dylan who has recently been diagnosed with Chlamydia and his efforts to contact his previous romantic partners to inform them of this recent diagnosis so that they may be tested. Helping Dylan in his quest are his best friends, the womanising Luke and the intelligent Evie, as they attempt to deal with their own feelings about love and romance as the three recall key moments from their lives together.

Now reading that plot synopsis above you would think that this sounds like a fairly generic run of the mill romantic comedy and I’ll admit that it is fairly clichéd at times, but with a cast, this likeable and charming does all that really matter.

Johnny Flynn is perfectly cast as Dylan with the character feeling like a believable one who has his moments of greatness but he also has his moments of weakness. Dylan is not a flawless person nor does the series attempt to portray him as such, he’s just a human being who makes those human mistakes that we all make, and it’s Flynn’s brilliant portrayal of relatable qualities that make the character so endearing. You just can’t help but like the guy, even when he royally screws up.

Daniel Ings makes for a fun sidekick as Luke, who does initially start off as the typical womanising sitcom best friend, but Ings still manages to make this rather clichéd character likeable and humorous, with Luke often getting some of the series funniest and certainly one of the most embarrassing moments.

The character becomes ever more developed and human as the series goes on, as we learn that his womanising is something of a crutch for him to make up for a missed opportunity at love that haunts him, which Ings manages to play brilliantly especially in moments where he eventually opens up about his emotions.

Antonia Thomas rounds out the principal trio as Evie and much like her co-stars, she is excellent in the role, again because you can’t help but like her. The moments in which she performs what I can only describe as emotional gymnastics are a true show of Thomas’s talents, as she attempts to hide her true feelings behind a smile all the while she is betrayed by the obvious tears in her eyes.

Unlike fellow flashback focused sitcom How I Met Your Mother, in which Ted Mosby’s romantic efforts became increasingly irritating (and sometimes creepy) eventually resulting in a lackluster ending that made the show feel like a waste of 9 years, Lovesick feels far more believable with Dylan and his friend’s quest for love and happiness being much incredibly funny but more often than not quite moving, poignant and relatable.

We all strive to find some kind of romantic happiness and fulfilment in life and in that quest we all make mistakes where we say the wrong thing or do the wrong thing. Or as is the case with Dylan and Evie’s relationship, it’s what we don’t say that really screws things up for us, something that I’ll admit I found incredibly relatable while watching the series, with the moments of the two struggling to simply tell each other how they feel being some of the show’s strongest moments, mainly due Flynn and Thomas’s terrific performances.

Of course, I should talk about the name change. I mean, seriously who thought to would be a good idea to call it Scrotal Recall in the first place? The original title makes you think that you would some kind of sleazy sex comedy filled an overabundance of unfunny masturbation gags, but the show is not like that at all with it being a careful mix of comedy and drama.

The show is not a wall to wall joke fest with many of its best moments, to me at least, lying in its more dramatic scenes where actors really push themselves and make the characters feel more believable and likeable. Also doesn’t hurt that the show is also quite funny as well, with the recurring character Angus always on hand to give the viewer a hilarious window into his increasingly collapsing life to stop the show becoming too melodramatic.
Changing the name of the series was probably the smartest thing they could have done, with Lovesick more effectively communicating the much more varied tone of the show.

The show might not appeal to everyone and not every episode is a runaway success with some being less than stellar, and the story does fall into the arena of cliché, with the “will they won’t they” plotline is so dated it you could probably find it painted on the wall of a cave.

However, despite the odd weak episode and the clichéd story, the series is still worth taking a look at if only for the performances of the cast.

Led by excellent performances from a charming trio, filled with moments of laughter and sadness and all manner of relatable moments, Lovesick is one show I’m glad Netflix took a chance on bringing back and I sincerely hope we get to spend more time with Dylan and co as they work their way through his list.

Graeme Robertson | [rating=4]

Comedy | UK, 2016 | 15 | Available Now | Netflix UK&Ireland | Dir.Tom Edge | Johnny Flynn, Antonia Thomas, Daniel Ings