It takes some bravery to try to reclaim the ground that Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan iconically charted in the classic rom-com. When Harry met Sally… Yet Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne have done exactly that, and with aplomb! – in Platonica 10-part comedy series that is as heartfelt as it is hilarious.
But don’t fool him. This is not a prolonged remake revamping a tale of opposites attract romance. Instead, this show takes that kinetic dynamic and odd couple concept and turns them into a series of misadventures that are thrillingly outrageous and entertaining. This is not just a story about friendship; is the series to hang out that you may be wishing for.
That Platonic about?
New on Apple TV+, Platonic brings together the stars and director of R-rated comedy hits neighbors and Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising. Along with co-creator/co-writer/co-executive producer (and IRL partner) Francesca Delbanco, Nicholas Stoller is directing, contributing to the writers’ room and executive producing this series alongside stars Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne. The show explores the chaotically charming chemistry of these stars, against a backdrop of hipster Los Angeles, Americana quirks and suburban unease.
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In their youth, Will (Rogen) and Sylvia (Byrne) were the best of friends, but marriages to other people gradually strained their bond to the breaking point. Sylvia had children to raise as a housewife; Will had a wife who hated Sylvia (and the feeling was mutual). Now, with Will newly divorced, there’s hope for a reconnection. At first, it seems that these former friends in their forties have grown too far apart. He is a pretentious hipster brewmaster who seeks to stay up late, flirt and have a good time, mainly to ignore his broken heart. She is a former lawyer who decided 13 years ago to focus on her family; now her kindergartner shrugs her off when she’s picked up in the morning.
Both find themselves in a mid-life crisis, trying to reclaim their identity in the face of loss and change. And, well, they’re not handling this gracefully. Naturally, there will be late-night trips to Denny’s, conversations about sex that are more silly than seductive, and childish screaming matches. But with everyone around them ready to be an adult, Will and Sylvia find wonderful comfort, and sometimes self-sabotage, in being “a mess” together.
Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne are magic and mayhem together.
as was true in neighbors, Rogen and Byrne have a lovely chemistry that feels genuinely intimate. For example, you think that in real life, you probably text each other jokes about your mom in the middle of the night. There’s a combativeness to their exchanges, as has been the case with every self-respecting comedy duo since Abbott and Costello. But even amid insults and searing burns, their affection for each other shines through. And best of all, theirs is the kind of chemistry that seems to welcome us, in a sense, leaving us a space at the Denny’s booth or pulling up a bar stool so we can sing and join and roar too.
Platonic makes masterful use of the pair’s chemistry as well as their distinctive talents. Rogen is set up with sidequests that involve beer-sprayed boy meltdowns, cringe-comedy sex adventures, and outbursts of youthful anger that are deeply cathartic. He may dress like a “90s grunge clown,” but he’s our 90s grunge clown.
Meanwhile, Byrne’s beauty and elegance are employed as bait and switch. Beneath the surface of this composed mother is a woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown, and Byrne captures this tremulous emotional state with wide eyes that seem to scream even as she smiles politely or throws punchlines. When Will is near her, her posture relaxes and his limbs go from graceful to lanky as she breaks out into comically bad dance moves.
Within these moments, there is an exhilarating freedom of reclaimed youth. We can clearly see Will and Sylvia as they were before adulthood became a routine rather than a goal. And in their smug rebellions, these twins in crisis offer us the vicarious thrill of making the ridiculously bad decision, doing the gleefully stupid thing, and enjoying the mess of it all. Sometimes it feels fucking good to make a scene!
Millennial angst is hilarious in Platonic.
Stoller, Rogen and Byrne may be getting older, wiser, more mature, blah blah blah, but the punchlines won’t be for the faint of heart. Laugh-inducing jokes are made involving Angela Merkel, Mel Gibson, Cara Delevingne and the Golden State Killer. The awkward moments spill over into jaw-dropping epic sequences of awkwardness, including a particularly satisfying comeuppance for a snooty old man who can never remember Sylvia’s name. There will be tacky makeovers, scooter-focused vandalism, and even a very special re-enactment of the classic dance from ugly coyote.
In many of his jokes and culture clashes, you can see the echoes of When Harry met Sally… The show even mentions the movie, as Will’s friends question Sylvia’s motivation for a reunion. But Stoller and company spare us the tedious sexism of a will-they-won’t-they. Will and Sylvia love each other, but they are not. in love. The question is not whether or not men and women can be friends; it is whether or not they have really surpassed themselves. And the tension of this is amazing, because we love them together, but they are collaborators in chaos. Can they (finally) grow together?
Luke Macfarlane, Carla Gallo, Guy Branum, Janet Varney, and Tre Hale offer stellar supporting turns, all of whom bring some nuance to portrayals of being 40 and still finding it out. By contrast, a pair of characters in their early twenties, played by the wonderfully kooky duo Vinny Thomas and Emily Kimball, can seem sketchy and seem absurdly naive and endlessly enthusiastic. But Platonic he looks at them through the lens of Will and Sylvia, who see these young people with everything they lack. There’s an envious growling undercurrent that gives the show an edge over light-hearted nostalgia. When the fun song “We are young”(opens in a new tab) plays, it feels less like an anthem of youthful exuberance and more like a taunting final note to a shaken epiphany.
This mix of middle-aged angst and light-hearted stupidity is the alchemy of Platonic, with Byrne and Rogen hitting every flavor note with enthusiasm and a little twisted anger. This show is beyond fun. It is also an invitation to reconnect with those parts of ourselves that we fear have outgrown with age, for better or worse. It’s a call in the middle of the night to do crap about anything and everything. It is a shoulder to lean on and a rallying cry. We may be “old”, but we are not dead yet. AND Platonic it leaves room for us older millennials to rage, bounce back, and be seen—maybe not at our best, but at our identifiable worst.
In that way, this show captures the energy of the best gathering places. You will laugh. You will shudder. you will laugh You will want to go back and do it all over again.
PlatonicThe first three episodes of premiere on Apple TV+ on May 24, with new episodes every Wednesday. (opens in a new tab)
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