In the seventh episode of Love Life’s first season, “Claudia Hoffman,” Darby breaks down into tears on a mattress shopping trip with her mother and stepbrother. “Nobody ever bought me a mattress,” she says through sobs, as she’s reduced back to a child yearning for motherly love. After a childhood of being unable to express herself, she finally confronts her mother over the bond they never had. They were always just on different wavelengths, unable to tune in to the correct frequency to discern what they needed from each other. It’s one of the show’s best moments in showcasing Anna Kendrick’s vulnerability, but it also unearths the intricacies of Darby’s character that were hidden for most of the season. If you’ll allow me to go armchair psychologist on this, I’d say that’s what spurned Darby’s intense desire for connection on a romantic level. She throws herself into relationships that she knows from the beginning will fail (Magnus), but on an elemental level, she needs someone who understands her, and she holds onto them until they slip from her grasp.
There are probably some weird Freudian connotations that I won’t get into, but for both of the anthology’s protagonists, their upbringing has shaped their perception of love in some way. It may have taken until the latter half of the season to complete Darby’s puzzle, but in Marcus’s case, he chose to marry a woman his parents believed was unsuitable as an act of rebellion. His parents made no attempts to hide their disapproval — even when the two got engaged, his mom told him to keep his options open.
It’s why Marcus would much rather stay in his new furniture-less apartment than make the trip back to Ann Arbor with Ida and her girlfriend Keiko for his parents’ anniversary. A celebration of love, at a time when he has none, is the last place he wants to be, and he’s not in the mood for the lecturing and the “I told you so.” In reality, what he receives is even worse: indifference. His mom and dad don’t express concern or baby him like Darby’s mother after her own divorce — they’re more worried about his credit score than how he feels. They don’t even call it a divorce, just the “Emily situation.” With Marcus so desperately needing support, the way his parents casually dismiss his ex-wife must sting the most.
Feeling suffocated in his childhood home, Marcus slides into the Instagram DMs of Destiny Mathis, a friend from high school whom he tutored in geometry and probably harbored a small crush on. Later, they meet at a bar, engaging in chitchat and reminiscing over their school days — cut to them having sex in his car, which he ends up feeling guilty about.
At the very beginning, Keith David’s voice-over described that Marcus often presents “chameleonic variations” of himself depending on the situation, manifesting in false façades that prevent people from getting to know the real him. Marcus also talked about this briefly with Yogi, lamenting that he and Emily fell in love with versions of each other that they shed as they grew older. His ability to adapt comes up here again, as we’re told that he feels like a fraud after sleeping with Destiny. “He had presented himself to her as the same studious good-humored Marcus, not the recently divorced demoralized hot mess with no furniture that he actually was,” the narrator explains. Like with Paloma, the Marcus he shows to Destiny is the cool coastal elite who orders top-shelf booze — a bachelor, not a divorcé. Personally, I think it’s perfectly fine for him to not wallow in his sadness every once in a while, even if it doesn’t ring entirely authentic to he who is at that moment. But he perhaps feels that he’s jumping into these ephemeral flings as an escape. With all that said, I’m still trying to figure out who the real Marcus is if he’s been presenting fake versions of himself this whole time. Perhaps he’s still trying to find out who he is, too.
Destiny was intended as a onetime thing, but his mom invites her to the anniversary party anyway, much to her son’s annoyance. But her attempt at playing matchmaker fails. He avoids speaking to her at the family’s quaint garden party, and he later helps her get home more out of politeness and obligation than attraction. Before he can drive back to make it in time for his dad’s speech, he’s pinned in by Destiny’s boyfriend, who destroys the rental car in a jealous rage. With a front-row seat to Destiny and her boyfriend’s drama, he watches them argue, apologize, kiss and makeup, and kiss some more, all in a couple of minutes. Like a how-to demonstration playing out right before his eyes, he witnesses everything he could’ve done to salvage his marriage. All he had to do was just be honest about his insecurities.
Seeing Destiny mend her relationship in such a mature and reasonable manner inspires Marcus to confront his mother about how she treats his marriage. She sees him as the innocent, misguided bystander caught up in Emily’s pull, but there’s so much more to their relationship than what she assumes. She wasn’t just an inconvenience to his credit score but a person he genuinely loved for seven years. And though he doesn’t explicitly state his wrongdoing, Marcus also takes responsibility (!) for cheating after blaming Mia last episode. (“She was my wife, and it ended because of something I did.”) With everything out in the open once and for all, hopefully, Marcus can finally move on and piece his life back together.
• We also get to see more of Ida, who apparently has a much healthier relationship with the parents than Marcus. I also wonder what it was about Emily that the Watkins’s didn’t like since they embraced Keiko immediately. Is it because they believed Ida and Keiko weren’t too serious?
• Yogi and Kian, again, are not helping Marcus at all with nursing the heartbreak. “It feels very divorcey in here,” Yogi says about the state of his apartment. “It feels like I got the divorce, like when I walked in, it got on me.”
• I love the shot of Marcus’s parents dancing in the foreground and Ida and Keiko running together while Marcus descends by his lonesome in the background. It feels like everyone is rubbing their happiness in his face.
• Keiko picking up soap-making before pandemic boredom existed … she was ahead of her time. I wish her Etsy business all the best.