'Love' Stars Break Down the Dark, Complicated Series Finale

[This story contains full spoilers for the final season of Netflix's Love.]

And they all lived happily ever after.

Maybe.

After three seasons of laughter and heartache in equal measure, the curtain has come down on Love, the Netflix comedy from creators Lesley Arfin, Judd Apatow and Paul Rust. In the final run of the series, viewers watched as the fairly odd couple of Gus (Rust) and Mickey (Gillian Jacobs) pushed their relationship into new territory: confessing their love for one another in between rounds of vomiting due to a stomach bug, as one example, and nearly breaking up at an out-of-state family reunion for another.

But the biggest step of all was saved for the final episode, in which Gus and Mickey traveled from Los Angeles to nearby Santa Catalina Island for an impromptu wedding. For much of the finale, Gus and Mickey's friends wonder aloud if the two are seriously about to tie the knot, or if they're playing an elaborate joke on everyone. It's decidedly the former, though a series of unfortunate events (including a near death) wind up derailing the ceremony. Just as it seems the couple has called off the wedding, Love ends with Gus and Mickey sneaking away from all of their loved ones, and they decide to get married after all — just the two of them and the local minister, with no one else in sight.

According to Rust, Love ended as it was always envisioned: on a note that could be interpreted as very romantic or very dark — or both, even — depending on the viewer. While the finale lands in a place that's tonally consistent with the greater series, it also travels down an unexpected path, veering away from certain storylines that many viewers likely expected to spend time on. Case in point: season two's closing arc, in which Mickey cheated on Gus with an ex-boyfriend, is only addressed briefly in the final season, with Gus none the wiser.

Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter, Rust and Jacobs break down the final storyline of Love, why the decision was made to end it after three seasons, the active choice to subvert expectations by shying away from Mickey's season two fling with Dustin (Rich Sommer), and what they will both miss most about the time they spent on the Netflix series.

Did you enter season three knowing it would be the final season?

Paul Rust: We knew that it was on the table. It was definitely on our minds that we we wanted this to possibly work as a series finale.

Why was it the right time to end the journey of Love?

Rust: Let's just make sure we're putting Love in quotes, so it's clear I'm not OK with ending the journey of love. (Laughs.) Love in the world and love as a concept is [still fine]! But it was a decision between myself and Judd Apatow and my wife, Lesley Arfin, who also created the show, along with conversations with Netflix.... We all agreed this would be a really great way to end the show. We wanted to be sensitive to the idea of telling this story in the amount of time that felt appropriate, and this felt appropriate.

Gillian Jacobs: For me, there's something nice about having a limited series, especially when you're following the story of two people so intimately. I enjoyed the finiteness of it, as opposed to my previous show [Community], which went six seasons but was much more episodic. Something felt right about having this be a shorter series. 

How did you arrive at the idea for the series finale: an impromptu wedding for Gus and Mickey, which swiftly gets called off, then secretly plays out behind closed doors?

Rust: It was mainly a desire to do an ending that felt like it fit with the endings of the previous two seasons. In some ways, the series finale would tonally match what the season finales were. For us, the goal was always to try coming up with an ending that was complicated, and that it might have the optics — to use a word everyone loves — where it looks romantic, but maybe underneath it, it's a little bit dark... or the optics of it might be that it looks dark, but underneath, it's actually sweet. In broad terms, that was the goal: making sure we had an ending that felt like it was a little layered.

What was your reaction to the impromptu wedding, Gillian?

Jacobs: I was shocked. (Laughs.) But on the other hand, it made sense for these two characters. I did not see it coming.

Do you have an interpretation of the final scene?

Jacobs: It makes me feel two things at once, which is what this show has done really well all along. You can get caught up in the romanticism of it, but I'm also very concerned for them at the same time. If I were any of their friends on that beach with them, I would be very worried. But that's what makes good television: characters taking big swings and doing things I wouldn't necessarily do in my life. I feel like that's how it was all along with Mickey and Gus. You have this duality of feelings: Shouldn't she be taking time off from dating? But you understand that there's an attraction between them, a pull that they feel toward each other. Even on paper, while they shouldn't be doing this, they really do understand each other. That's the world that Love lived in.

Rust: I'd say it's a nice stew of feelings. I think it's romantic, I think it's dark, I think it's sweet, and I think it's fucked up. Our attempt at having multiple feelings you could take away from it was our overall effort with the series: always trying to make a relationship that we were writing about feel like the ones we have had in life, which are usually — and I say this with a heavy heart, because wouldn't it be easier if it was just one feeling? But usually in life, there are multiple contradicting feelings. I love McDonald's, and I know it's bad for me. (Laughs.)

The show won't be returning for another season, but do you have a feeling of how it would work out for Gus and Mickey as newlyweds?

Jacobs: Judd used to talk about how down the line there might have been a season where they broke up, and you would follow the two of them separately. I think it would have been funny if we got married and then separated almost immediately, and you have a whole season of us dating other people, and then you see them come back to each other. That would have been interesting. Maybe there will be a Netflix original film some day.

Rust: I think about [what could have been] in the terms that I loved these characters and they were fun to write. There are times where you'll have an experience, or a memory, and I'm so conditioned over the last three years that any notion I would have would get thrown into the mental box of being used for the show. I used to be able to exploit [painful memories] for the TV show. Now I don't have a way to take those painful memories and channel them into something I'm getting paid for. (Laughs.) That's where I think about the characters and miss them, in those moments. 

What was the experience like, shooting the series finale?

Jacobs: We went to Catalina Island. Even though it's so close to LA, it has this feeling of being very separate. We all stayed there [while shooting], so it mimicked the experience of the characters in a weird way. It's not often that you get to go on location like that on a TV show. It was an amazing way to send off the show, for the cast and crew to have this adventure together. 

Was it at all somber on set, knowing it was the end?

Jacobs: I don't remember it being somber. Sometimes, you get so caught up in the doing of it with a TV show, that the emotional stuff doesn't hit you until later. Every day it's a rush to get everything filmed with whatever time you have. I end up processing things later. I'm sure with the season coming out now, that's when it's going to hit me. We shot it months ago, but it doesn't feel real until it's out in the world. I'm sure in two weeks, it will really sink in with me that it's actually over.

Entering the final season, I think the viewers likely expected Love to dive deeper into the season two storyline in which Mickey cheated on Gus — and while it comes up on a few occasions in the last run of episodes, it never comes up within their relationship. Was it a conscious choice to subvert the audience's expectations on that front?

Rust: From the very beginning, when Mickey slept with someone else in season two, we all made the choice in the room that day: This would never become known by Gus. We knew it was possibly a risky choice, but I think what we liked about it is it felt like life. This is what happens. Sometimes people cheat in relationships and they don't get caught. There's also the argument you can have: What is cheating? They weren't exclusive. I think we were excited by the idea of how it would nice to have a woman cheat [on her boyfriend], not be found out about it, and not be punished for it or have to atone for it. It's been a century of movies, and a half-century or so of TV shows, where guys cheat and get away with it and it often doesn't rear its head. I'm curious to see how people are going to respond to it. A lot of times, particularly now, what's popular is justice: getting justice, and wanting people to get punished. That's great, but having to sit with the idea that sometimes you don't always get justice... it felt like an interesting spot to put both the characters and the audience in.

Jacobs: I think Paul really smartly wanted to subvert people's expectations of what the final season was going to be about. In a lot of other shows, if it didn't come out in the first episode, then maybe it would have come out in the midseason or as a big reveal in the season finale. It gave my character this secret, which for me as an actor? That's a gift, when you have something going on that the other characters don't know about. I would let it impact me in the scenes, as a secret between Mickey and the audience. It felt very real. Life doesn't always play out like a TV show where people find out things. Maybe it would have come out if the show went further, and maybe Gus would have reacted in an unexpected way. That was one of the nice things about this show: It didn't follow a lot of the tropes about how people react and respond, and how plot functions on TV.

What are you going to miss the most about Love?

Rust: The relationships. I've made so many friends, with the other actors and with the crewmembers, and that's truly what I'm taking away from this: the people I got to meet, and the people who enriched my life. Not getting to see them 15 hours a day... they will be greatly missed. 

Jacobs: For me, it was a unique experience in the level of care and attention to detail that everybody from the writers and directors to costume designers put into the show. The time spent on the emotional lives of these characters... it's a pretty rare thing. It's difficult to make 10 episodes of television, or 22 episodes of television. So much has to keep going: plot, character. We developed a good-sized ensemble over the years. But to have so many detailed conversations about a character's emotional state? It was amazing. And I'll miss Paul, the collaboration of working together. There's really nothing quite like that — the fact that he created the show with Judd Apatow and Lesley Arfin, and was writing the episodes and also acting in them, and that it was the story of the two of us... having those conversations with Paul, who is such a thoughtful person and really one of the most supportive people I've ever met. He created an environment on set where everybody felt essential to the process. I'm going to miss that very much.

What did you think about the final season of Love? Sound off in the comments section below with your take, and keep following THR.com/LiveFeed for more television coverage.

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