Dramedy, that emotional space between drama and comedy, is one of the hardest spaces for an actor to inhabit. They’re not only expected to make us laugh, but to make us feel their pain – often in the same breath.
The latest TV show to wander into this territory is Love, a new series co-created by comedy mastermind Judd Apatow, which debuts on Friday on Netflix.
With its unflinching, side-splitting and excruciatingly honest take on modern relationships, laughing at our shared misery has never been this much fun.
During its 10-episode first season – it has already been renewed for a second – Love follows the misadventures of nerdy nice guy Gus (played by Paul Rust) and brazen wild-child Mickey (Gillian Jacobs), as they clumsily stumble into a crazy kind of love.
“I have... let’s just call them impulse-control issues,” Mickey tells Gus. “You’re like a 40-year-old 12-year-old,” she adds.
Both of them are nursing broken hearts and bruised egos – and on the rebound from freshly dead, dysfunctional relationships – when they meet by chance in a shop. He buys her coffee and cigarettes, as an act of kindness, when he sees her cursing the cashier because she can’t find her purse.
While it is not exactly a case of love at first sight, it is apparent that there is weird kind of chemistry bubbling under the surface, despite all the bumps, potholes and outright calamities that lurk along their new path.
A television veteran, Jacobs, 33, is best known for her role as high-school dropout and aspiring radical Britta Perry in Community. She was also recently seen in a recurring role as Adam's gratingly self-assured girlfriend, Mimi-Rose Howard, on the fourth season of HBO's Girls.
"I was looking to perhaps do a show that had two leads, something like this," Jacobs says of Love.
"I had been cast but hadn't started shooting my run on Girls when I learnt about this project, and so I was really excited about doing something more in that vein, in the world of dramedy, and getting to have incredibly serious scenes and then also very funny things as well.
“I certainly feel like the show is incredibly relatable for me. And for my friends. And people that I know. I’ve seen scenes like this go down. I’ve certainly had some public fights with people, especially when I lived in New York. I’ve definitely cried on a stoop. So it felt, sometimes, eerily familiar.”
Her co-star Rust, meanwhile, has his performance roots in the Los Angeles stand-up. The 34-year-old Rust is best known for his big-screen roles as the nerdy protagonist in I Love You, Beth Cooper, and as Jewish-American soldier Andy Kagan in Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds. He will also be seen alongside Paul Reubens in Pee-Wee's Big Holiday, a Netflix original movie that will be released on March 18.
Provenance counts for a lot in mass-appeal comedy, and Love can lay claim to one of Hollywood's best and brightest "brands" in the mirth trade – Judd Apatow, the writer, director, actor and comedian behind hits including The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005) and Trainwreck (2015).
His TV credits include Girls, which he executive-produces with the show's creator and star Lena Dunham, as well as the much-missed Freaks and Geeks, which brought the emerging talents of James Franco and Seth Rogan to a wider audience.
Rust and his real-life partner Lesley Arfin (Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Awkward) join Apatow as co-creators and executive producers of Home.
"I think inherently you care about people who are trying to do better, and then you want to be unique and show aspects of the experience they haven't seen a zillion times," says Apatow, explaining why he brought Love to television rather than the big screen.
"What's fun about TV as opposed to movies: there's only so many endings to a movie. It generally is either happy, or it's No Country for Old Men and he gets shot at the end. I mean, there's not that many ways to go.
“In a TV show, you’re allowed to show all the nuance, and show happy moments and moments in melancholy. It’s much more truthful, because you don’t have to tie it up with a bow.”
• The complete first season of Love will be released on Netflix on Friday