Apple’s new comedy Platonic’s only misstep is probably in its title; the show is so far away from traversing the anticipated could-best friends-turn-lovers question that you wonder why the creators, husband-wife duo Nicholas Stoller and Francesca Delbanco, named it so.
But what the terrific 10 episodes do chart is a gloriously self-aware, often hilarious, and yet nuanced coming-of-age journey of two very different people going through their own midlife crises; it is also a wonderful exploration of late millennial angst, as well as the highs and lows of modern-day relationships.
Similar to how other shows such as Fleishman Is in Trouble (Jesse Eisenberg, Claire Danes, Lizzy Caplan), Mark Duplass’ Togetherness or Judd Apatow’s criminally-underrated Love looked at the changing nature of friendships (and marriages) as we get older, Platonic posits several gnawing questions to 40-somethings struggling to let go of who they were in their 20s, but deceptively so.
College friends — without benefits — Sylvia (Rose Byrne) and Will (Seth Rogen) have fallen out badly a few years ago; she didn’t want him to marry his fiancé, but he ended up doing so anyway… and is now divorced.
Sylvia is a stay-at-home mom for her three kids and successful lawyer husband Charlie, but misses her law career and often wonders what could have been. Meanwhile, Will is the brewmaster at a cool local beer bar that he runs with his friends, dresses like a hippie, and is considering getting back into the dating game.
They reunite, and it is instant sparks — not of the romantic kind, but even better — sparks that remind them of who they were in college, when their decisions had little consequences, and that life can be unhinged fun. Sylvia can’t help herself despite being a responsible grown-up as opposed to Will’s juvenile self; whenever the duo hangs out, they both lapse into the people they were when they first met. Best friends tend to have that effect on you.
Creators: Francesca Delbanco and Nicholas Stoller
Cast: Rose Byrne, Seth Rogen, Luke Macfarlane, Carla Gallo, Tre Hale, Vinny Thomas
No. of episodes: 10
Storyline: Two best friends reconnect after a long rift and help each other through their respective mid-life crises, while learning more about themselves along the way
But it’s not all just chaos; despite all the madness Sylvia and Will get up to — from drinking themselves silly and getting high to snorting ketamine, stealing lizards and bleaching their hair — Platonic also offers us remarkable insight into this profound connection between the two, that is instantly familiar to anyone who misses their buddy. Navigating their respective personal and professional challenges, the two help each other out with varying degrees of success (and disarray), but thankfully, never make the mistake of trying to turn this deep bond they have into something that it’s not.
As Charlie once says, in what is probably the line of the show, “I know Will and Sylvia aren’t fucking. But it almost feels as if they are getting off on the fact that they could be fucking.”
And this is where the genius of Rose Byrne and Seth Rogen comes into play; it’s an absolute delight to watch these gifted actors hit their comedic peaks in scene after scene, and exchange interplays of such unrivalled rapport that it should be disallowed. While Seth plays a character who might possibly resonate in some ways with his real-life persona (making his performance all the more so relatable), Rose is equally kick-ass as someone trying to deal with her insecurities of being a homemaker, but cutting loose when she meets her friend who is more messed up than she is.
Having starred as husband and wife in the hit Neighbors films (and their off-screen camaraderie shows) their chemistry is even better here as platonic buds, sharing meaningful heart-to-hearts and drunken revelry in equal measure, as they effortlessly riff off each other.
The superb supporting cast deserves mention too; Luke Macfarlane and Carla Gallo as Sylvia’s husband and friend are so enjoyable in their own right that you long to see more of them, whereas Tre Hale as Andy and Vinny Thomas as Omar provide some hilarious banter as Will’s work buddies.
But it is the writing — Stoller (Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Neighbors, Bros) and Delbanco (Friends from College) — that brings it all together, in a delirious mix of dialogue-heavy repartee and physical comedy that gives equal importance to both its male and female leads. On that note, Will trashing every rental scooter he sees on the sidewalks of L.A has to be the gag of the year; it had me in splits every time.
Platonic should rightfully go down as one of the best buddy comedies of all time; at its best, it’s a celebration of rarely-seen sides to modern adult friendships (and love) that very few scripts engage with, aided by performers who hit it out of the park, and a technical crew that keeps the show’s backdrop and palette glistening with novelty.
Do you have a best friend? Miss them? Of course you do. Go find and hug them already.
Platonic is currently streaming on Apple TV+, with weekly episodes