Doctor: “You’ve been tested positive for chlamydia.”
Dylan: “That doesn’t sound very positive.”
Doctor: “You’ll need to contact your previous sexual partners.”
Dylan: “All of them?”
Doctor: “Just the ones you like.”
Recently, I completed ostensibly one of the most brilliant, humourous and authentic romcom I’ve ever watched (based on my brother’s timely recommendation, so thank you bro). It was so addictive; I smashed it within a single weekend. In my defense, I was nursing an ache (of what nature, I shall not reveal).
In light of my life’s current season, I felt that I simply had to write a (not so) brief note on the series.
Cressida: “Are you in equities?”
Dylan: “No, I’m in debt.”
Lovesick is a Netflix original series centered around Dylan, who is diagnosed with chlamydia and goes onto responsibly (and grudgingly) contact every single girl that he has slept with to inform her of the news. The series was filmed in several locations in and around Glasgow, Scotland (incredibly picturesque). Each episode (more or less) revisits the relationship that Dylan has shared with each girl, in alphabetical order.
At first blush, Lovesick appears to be a run-of-the-mill romcom, with a feeble attempt at a non-cliché plot and a surprise, surprise, happy ending. But with each episode, I found myself nodding furiously in agreement with the characters, and at certain times, tearing along with the heartbroken lovers.
I know. I recognise that I am the typical, perfect target audience group for romcoms – female, early 20s, idealistic/romantic, can overlook some of the plot’s loopholes and be hopelessly sucked into the ups and downs of the character’s love life. Hence, my strong recommendation for Lovesick may not be as objective as it ought to be.
That said, Lovesick is brilliant in its accurate portrayal of how love truly is. It isn’t fireworks, 100 bright red roses and happily ever after with a scruffy golden retriever. It is clumsy, untimely, awkward, messy and more often than not, painful and confusing.
Furthermore, Lovesick offers a layered dimension in its authentic exploration of love through the lenses of Dylan’s tight knit group of friends – Luke, Evie, and in the later seasons, Angus. Each of Dylan’s friend has his/her own subplot which Lovesick interweaves between episodes of Dylan’s love life that not only adequately develops the character’s story arc, but also reveals how their love lives can affect their friendship and dynamics with one another.
Although each of the main characters is different, I am able to relate to each of them in various periods of their love lives. Here, I share some of my favourite characters/moments (Note: May contain spoilers).
“You know, other people are good at darts, or you know, speaking French. My talent is starting relationships with people who don’t enjoy my company.” – Dylan
The main protagonist, Dylan, is a hopeless romantic who falls in love so quickly and easily that it is almost ridiculous. I can’t remember the exact quote, but both Luke and Evie have chided Dylan for his naivety (or stupidity) in falling in love with women he had just met and barely knew.
Dylan’s brief encounter with Agata drives this point home.
Once, Dylan brought this gorgeous, tall blonde, Agata, to a house party, and introduced her as his Danish girlfriend. Agata spoke little to no English. Dylan did not know how to speak Danish. His friends were puzzled as to how they communicated, and it was evident that they communicated via the language of love (yknow, in the bedroom only).
Turns out, Agata is German! Angus (bless his curly haired soul) was able to speak German and eventually clarified the misunderstanding with Dylan. It was entirely awkward thereafter.
Evie describes Dylan as a “soppy” feelings guy, as Dylan develops feelings for every girl he sleeps with, and would foresee an actual future with each and every one of them.
In this regard, while it is sweet that Dylan is such a romantic, towards the middle of the season, it got on my nerves a little. Some girls were clearly unsuitable for Dylan, and yet he blatantly refused to at least be realistic about their situation. Most of the time, the girls ended up leaving Dylan either because they were never serious with Dylan to begin with (as most of the relationships were first sparked by drunken one night stands), or they were involved in a tangled web with another man, or they were simply at different life stages and looking for different things in life.
When abandoned, Dylan would bring out his sad puppy dog eyes (By the way, I cannot stand his messy mop which he calls his hair. I wished someone from wardrobe would brush his hair) and mope to his friends.
I suppose, hindsight is 20/20 (Or is it? Let’s leave that discussion for another day) and sometimes emotions (and lust) can cloud one’s judgment. But Dylan’s roller coaster of a love life is a reminder that love must be grounded in reality as well.
Also, I think Dylan had too much time on his hands in the series. =p Apparently, he works in landscaping, as a garden designer. But, Dylan never really seems to be working, and had too much free, idle time on his hands to be constantly smitten by the lady of the week/month. Perhaps if Dylan was more focused on/preoccupied with his career, he would have been able to rationally assess the feasibility of the relationship with each girl, and emerge wiser (Or maybe I am being too pragmatic and transactional about this, who am I to comment?).
“I try to wait to get to work before taking a crap. That way, they are paying me to take a shit.” – Luke
Ah, Luke. Luke is a highly interesting character that provides comedic relief (as does Angus) in the series.
Luke used to be a romantic softie. He was deeply hurt by Jo, possibly his first serious girlfriend. He was willing to bend over backwards to accommodate Jo and her ambitions of becoming a doctor, but she failed to appreciate his (misguided, though well meaning and somewhat romantic) gestures and dumped him at a party that Luke wanted to propose to Jo at. (Luke had customised a pair of underwear that spelt “Marry me?” oh dear god)
It was then that Luke decided to become the ultimate playboy/f***boy as a coping mechanism to deal with the heartbreak (How original, I know). Wham, bang, thank you M’dm was his motto in life. Luke avoided verbalising his feelings at all costs and was only keen on banging the hottest girls he could lay his hands on.
Luke once went out with Cleo, a psychology student. He was so concerned about Cleo digging too deep into his personality (and be turned off by it) that he avoided conversing with her and even bringing Cleo home to his place (they usually did it in the toilet) so that she would not analyse his bedroom and make unflattering conclusions about him.
When Dylan fell in love with Cleo’s older friend and invited both Cleo and her friend over to their flat (Luke, Dylan and Evie are housemates), Luke cleared out his entire bedroom until it was sparse, save for his bed (!!!). Instead, he carted large boxes of his extensive collection of alcohol, porn and other vices to Evie’s room to hide them from Cleo.
When Luke gave Cleo a house tour and they entered Evie’s room, Luke described those boxes as “Evie’s immoral porn” (something to that extent, I don’t remember the actual words). Hahaha.
What is pitiful about Luke is that he often puts on a mask of bravado, and feels the need to hide the genuine aspects to himself because he believes that that will help amp up his chances with the woman he is trying to sleep with.
Eventually, Luke visits a therapist (First, Cleo, and then another man) and slowly begins to be in touch with and verbalise his real, raw emotions.
Luke is a reminder that we all have own emotional baggage that we must first recognise, accept and actively try to handle, rather than avoid under a veil of being a playboy or any other crutch we use to hide our pain.
Also, Luke, Evie and Dylan are a trio of best friends. For the longest time, Luke was content being a swinging bachelor as both of his closest friends provided him with the emotional support he needed and were both almost always in a not-so-serious relationship.
Towards the end of the series, when Evie and Dylan began to settle into serious relationships (Evie was engaged to be married to Mal and Dylan was rather serious with Abigail), Luke worried.
All along, he was perfectly content with his Wham, bam, thank you M’dm lifestyle as his closest friends were also free and singleish. With his friends pairing off (even Angus, who had recently been divorced, found his dance club girlfriend who was pregnant with his baby), Luke feared losing the close dynamics he had with his friends and was forced to confront the viability of his bachelor’s lifestyle.
The prospect of eventually, truly being alone terrified Luke, and that was what drove him to eventually speak to a therapist, in an attempt to get a hold of his life (Way to go, Luke 🙂 )
Dylan: “Oh, I forgot to say. I did get you a card but I forgot to bring it. I did write in it though. Do you mind waiting?”
Evie: “Yeah. I can wait.”
My favourite character of the entire series is Evie. She is understanding, sweet, dependable and extremely loving. She had a crush on Dylan for about 7 years, but they never really worked out due to bad timing (Dylan was cycling through many girls, and Evie later became serious with Mal, whom she almost married!).
Evie was never able to confront her feelings about Dylan, and every time she mustered up the courage to confess her feelings to Dylan, she would be sidestepped by another girl or crisis.
Towards the finale, Evie called off her upcoming marriage with Mal (stable, muscular but boring man, like a table, as Dylan describes him) as she was unable to deny her feelings for Dylan, but still refrained from confessing to Dylan as Dylan was happily with Abigail (Evie and Abigail have had history, but you should watch it to find out for yourself) and Evie did not want to spoil things for Dylan when things seemed to be finally looking up for Dylan in the love department.
Ultimately, among other things, Lovesick seems to be making a point about timing. Like they always say, “Right guy, wrong time”, and vice versa.
I suppose, you can never know how life may unfold for you. You can only control your responses to the good, bad and ugly that life throws at you.
I think for the longest time I’ve had other people’s ideas in my head about what things are supposed to be. And I’m realising that none of them knew what the f*** they were talking about. – Evie
Lovesick is highly relatable, and does not try to paint love with rose-tinted lenses. The mere fact that Dylan has had to revisit every single one of his sexual encounters is evident of the other inconvenient and awkward aspects of love that we often overlook in mainstream media’s depiction of the elusive, perfect love.
There is no such thing as perfect love, and all of us are stumbling and fumbling our way through. There is no such thing as the perfect one, everyone has their own set of flaws and emotional baggage and it is up to us to decide if we can accept them.
For the longest time, I tended to blame myself whenever a budding romance or friendship ended. The relationships either imploded right in my face, or quietly faded away. Either way, I would revisit every exchange we’ve ever had, and run through over a million permutations of “What ifs” in my head.
“What if I was kinder/taller/richer/more patient/understanding/caring/slimmer/prettier/older/wiser/smarter?”
The “What ifs” were tormenting and endless. The ache in my heart sometimes translated to actual, physical pain (true story for those who’ve been there).
Over time, I’ve learnt to embrace the contours of human relationships – the high highs and the ever deeper lows. I’ve learnt to accept that sometimes, regardless of how you try to achieve and seek closure, you cannot fathom how and why some things end. I realised that I was only shackling myself by putting the blame for the end of a relationship squarely on my shoulders.
You simply have to accept, learn, and move on. I am thankful for each and every single encounter I’ve had in my life, for the long chapters of serious relationships and the brief paragraphs of fleeting ones. In this rich tapestry of life, every person has taught me a lesson, and even in the depths of my despair, I find these lessons beautiful in their teachings.
“How will I heal?”
Time is a great equaliser, and time allows one to reflect, forget and forgive (particularly, self-forgiveness). Whenever an old lover or friend that I used to know crosses my mind, I pray to God that He takes care of them, and watches over them, because I can’t be there for them the way I used to anymore.
We can only hope that we learn from and reflect on our past mistakes and constantly work on self-growth, self-development and self-love, so that we can and will be ready for him or her if and when the time eventually comes. In the meantime, we should relish in the moments of singleness, and be fully content with life as is.
Note to self, Pearls.
Till next time