Why you should watch Britcom Lovesick on Netflix
PUBLISHED: 14:25 11 January 2018 | UPDATED: 14:25 11 January 2018
Falling in love is all about the timing - which is the premise of this full-of-heart, laugh-out-loud British sitcom, about a man with an STI who needs to contact all his former partners. Doesn’t sound romantic? I promise you, it is. Series three just dropped on Netflix.
There’s been a definite shift away from romantic comedies on the big screen – so much so that The Hollywood Reporter announced the official death of the romcom in 2013.
But true romantics know that love never dies, it just finds somewhere else to thrive, those romantic comedies we used to watch at the cinema and which starred Hugh Grant or Renee Zellweger (or both) can now be found on television, albeit with a few millennial twists.
There’s Catastrophe, the Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney comedy about a holiday fling that ends in pregnancy, marriage and navigating the choppy waters of parenthood, Chewing Gum, Michaela Coel’s comedy about a 24-year-old virgin desperate to be deflowered despite her fervent religious beliefs and Lovesick, which returned for a third series on Netflix in January, which is also one of the best of the bunch.
Lovesick began life with a title so horrific that I remember reading it, recoiling and assuming I was having some kind of flashback to the time at university that someone fed me a ‘funny’ mushroom omelette: when Lovesick premiered on Channel 4 in 2014, it was called Scrotal Recall. I know.
I am all for puns, but this is one that a reviewer should have coined in a pithy write-up of episode one rather than a title chosen by a broadcaster – the show failed to reach the audience it deserved on C4, but when it travelled to Netflix, it was renamed ahead of the second season (the streaming service carried out a survey which discovered that viewers loved the show but most wouldn’t tell their friends about it due to the fact they’d have to use the word ‘scrotal’. This is an even more distressing fact than the name itself).
The premise is a British version of How I Met Your Mother, some of which is presented in a format that brings to mind Six Feet Under, or to be precise, the way each episode of Six Feet Under was framed as a story within a story.
Protagonist Dylan (played by Johnny Flynn) is diagnosed with sexually transmitted – and transmittable – disease Chlamydia and has to contact all the women he’s been intimate with in order to inform them of his diagnosis and suggest they too are tested. I know, it doesn’t sound particularly romantic, unless you’re a Petri dish.
Each episode is a flashback to Dylan’s previous romances and we learn why each of them foundered and the effect it had on our hero, in the telling of each tale, we also meet Dylan’s best friends, Luke (Daniel Ings) and Evie (Antonia Thomas). If you haven’t watched series one and two and want to, stop reading RIGHT NOW.
While Lovesick sounds as if it’s an excuse to rake through endless ultimately doomed sexual exploits, it’s actually far more about Dylan’s search for his one true love who he believes is Evie – there’s one catch, however, Evie is about to marry someone else. At the end of series one, Luke blurts out to Evie that Dylan is in love with her, at the end of series two, Dylan is with someone else (Abigail, played by Hannah Britland) and Evie is single and lovelorn for Dylan.
Obviously, there’s far more to it – for a start, there’s Luke, who plays the best friend and is a shining light in this sitcom, and there’s Angus (Joshua McGuire), the group’s friend from university whose wedding they attend in the very first episode and who Evie used to date. Angus takes more of a central role in series three – his newfound freedom after a horrible marriage taking a somewhat unusual direction.
And as an aside, Johnny Flynn is Jerome ‘Soldier, Soldier’ Flynn’s half-brother, is the frontman of band The Sussex Wit, scored music for BBC4’s Detectorists and composed Renaissance music for Shakespeare’s Globe – but does he get the girl in series three of Lovesick?
Nine Reasons to watch Lovesick
1) It’s optimistic: Hard as it might be to believe that a show pegged on a sexually transmitted disease concept could be uplifting and romantic, it is. All the characters are convinced that they will find true love and set about finding it in their own, often ludicrous, ways. It’s tender, full of heart but not overly-saccharine. That it hasn’t been given more credit is a crying shame. This isn’t a sitcom about sex, it’s a series about love.
2) The writing is excellent: Creator Tom Edge has written episode’s of Netflix’s The Crown and was responsible for the BBC adaptation of JK Rowling’s Strike novels and he’s currently working on a Judy Garland biopic which stars Renee Zellweger (her again). His dialogue is superb and on-the-nail. This is someone who knows people and how they talk – you’d think all scriptwriters would, but they don’t.
3) It’s hard to resist a ‘will they, won’t they?’ plot, however much you might want to: It’s virtually impossible not to get suckered into Dylan and Evie’s love story, even though most of it involves them having relationships with other people. Remember Tim and Dawn’s love story in The Office?
4) There aren’t many of us who haven’t fallen in love with one of our friends at an awkward time: The lucky ones end up in a When Harry Met Sally situation, with all their mutual friends telling each other they’d known this would happen all along, the unlucky ones end up destroying a fantastic relationship. Friendship can be a strong foundation for love, but it can also be the rocks upon which unreciprocated feelings are dashed. And that’s without the Dawson’s Creek criteria being thrown into the mix, namely that you can be in love with a friend your whole life but the timing is never right and you both end up perfectly happy with other people, albeit somewhat nostalgic for what could have been.
5) The characters are relatable: They make bad choices, they can’t budget, they don’t look after themselves but they love their friends. This is how it feels, or felt, to be in your 20s. I remember it. Distantly. Also, each of Dylan’s former partners is a proper person, rather than the clichéd nightmare harridan that you’d expect to see in a sitcom with a name like Scrotal Recall – or Lovesick, even.
6) Antonia Thomas from Misfits is in it: And she is lovely.
7) It’s perfect Duvet Day watching: Each episode is roughly 25 minutes long, meaning you can steam through series one, two and three (22 episodes) over a couple of days with ease, especially if you can ring a bell and have someone bring you tea and biscuits at suitable intervals.
8) The great soundtrack: Chvrches, Alt-J, Elvis Costello, The Horrors, Foals, Bronski Beat, London Grammar, Richard Ashcroft, Radiohead, Tom Jones, Django Django, Metronomy…go to Spotify, it’s all laid out for you in simple playlists.
9) It’s actually funny: As in laugh-out-loud funny. Josh Mauire’s Angus offers Daniel Ings’ Luke is an absolute joy and, to some extent, steals the show. He’s carving quite a niche for himself in comic roles what with this and Psychoville and Pete Vs Life. May I refer you to season two and a scene which involves Luke, a deer and being caught short in the woods.
* All three series of Lovesick are available on Netflix now.