Platonic review: Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne’s winsome chemistry makes Apple’s new comedy series a must-watch – The Indian Express

The key to Seth Rogen’s sustained stardom is that for nearly two decades, he has remained the sort of person you could imagine yourself hanging out with, regardless of whether he’s playing an unemployed slacker, an entitled superhero, or even the co-founder of the world’s most valuable company. In a way, watching his progress on screen isn’t unlike watching Daniel Radcliffe play Harry Potter for 1o years, or watching Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy’s relationship transform from young love to midlife mundanity in the Before Trilogy. An entire generation has grown up in the company of his characters.
But even though Rogen himself has also grown up before our eyes, the jury’s still out on whether the characters that he usually plays have evolved. In the new Apple TV+ series Platonic, Rogen stars as Will, a recently divorced elder millennial who runs a successful brewery in Los Angeles, but deals with his first taste of midlife crisis by bleaching his hair and dressing like Billie Eilish. The 10-episode show reunites him with his Neighbors director Nicholas Stoller and co-star Rose Byrne, easily the MVP of the project.
She plays Sylvia, Will’s old BFF from college, who is happily married with three kids. Will and Sylvia were inseparable back in the day, but they drifted apart, as most adults do at some point or another. In this case, the ‘separation’ was triggered when Sylvia suggested that Will shouldn’t marry Audrey, his now ex-wife. When she finds out about their divorce, she decides to extend an olive branch and reconnect with him.
The reunion isn’t smooth. They don’t simply pick up where they left off. Perhaps there’s a festering resentment in them both about having missed major milestones in each other’s lives. Whether it’s guilt that they’re feeling or anger is up for debate. But it’s likely a combination of both. People tend to make promises when they’re young. They’re rarely able to fulfil them as adults. After a shaky first ‘date’, however, Sylvia and Will click back into place almost as if it was inevitable. Soon, they’re going on late-night adventures that involve drug use and debauchery; they’re inserting themselves into each other’s personal and professional lives; and offering support like nobody else around them can, including Sylvia’s adorable husband Charlie (played by Luke Macfarlane, the breakout star of last year’s Bros).
Platonic doesn’t exactly reveal if there was ever anything going on between Sylvia and Will back in college, although Will’s decision to keep a blossoming romance from her midway through the season certainly says a lot. And the show is mature enough to not let this behaviour slide; Sylvia spots it, points out its weirdness, and then gives Will the opportunity to explain himself. This is the most enjoyable stretch of the show, probably because the characters have relaxed into each other’s company. Of course, watching Rogen and Byrne play off each other is delightful; they’ve matured as performers in the years since Neighbors became a box office hit.
But Sylvia and Will realise soon enough that they can’t live like teenagers any more, even though he’d probably like nothing more (his mother handles his finances, he says). He’s a fascinating character; on the one hand, he’s obviously ambitious, but on the other, his response to dealing with difficult situations is usually throwing a childish tantrum or two. He isn’t a man-child, but he isn’t exactly a responsible adult either. Sylvia is having her own midlife crisis in parallel. She isn’t sure if having an idyllic family life is actually as special as it is made out to be, or — and this is more likely — what she imagined it to be. She gave up a career in law to raise her three children, and now there’s no room for adventure in her stable life. Will’s unplanned reappearance is the shock that her system so desperately needed, even if she isn’t ready to admit it. Byrne’s performance, as a woman in her early 40s struggling to adhere to adult stereotypes, is easily the best part about an already excellent show.
Like Netflix’s similar Master of None, Platonic takes the storytelling structure of sitcoms and elevates it into something more moving than it should be. It puts Sylvia and Will in outlandish situations, but the underlying emotion is always easy to latch on to. In a somewhat meta way, the experience of watching Platonic actually like reconnecting with your own past, when Superbad and Pineapple Express were the best movies of all time, and the possibility of ever having to do taxes felt like a suggestion more than an inevitability.
Creators – Nicholas Stoller, Francesca Delblanco
Cast – Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne, Luke Macfarlane, Carla Gallo
Rating – 4/5

Rohan NaaharRohan Naahar is an assistant editor at Indian Express online. He cover… read more


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