In trying to be more critical about your media consumption, it starts to get pretty hard to find shows that you don’t have to feel bad about liking. Lovesick on Netflix is one of the exceptions.

I fell in love with Lovesick on one of those dreary winter afternoons where you know you want to watch something but you don’t know what to watch and nothing you’ve already watched feels quite right. My friend had a knack for picking TV shows with drawn-out storylines but killer indie-pop soundtracks, so I figured I’d humor him for at least one episode, which quickly turned into a marathon.

Originally titled Scrotal Recall and later tastefully changed to Lovesick, the series follows Dylan (Johnny Flynn) and his best friends as he must track down all of his previous lovers after finding out he’s tested positive for chlamydia. He goes quite a bit further back than likely necessary, but watching the flashbacks to each of his romantic mishaps and the subsequent reunions is incredibly entertaining. The cutting back and forth between the present and past can ruin a show if done incorrectly. Creator Tom Edge, however, skillfully weaves the narrative together in a way that lures you into being defensive and oddly protective of each character while also keeping you guessing what’s next for their personal growth.

I still can’t quite put my finger on why I’ve loved it so much or why I keep going back to it even though Netflix has so many options. It might be that I’m a bit of a masochist and firmly believe that there’s nothing like a good cry to a bad love triangle; it might be the satisfaction of seeing multiple strong women of color who are given more intricate storylines than just identity crises centered on their race; it might be that I too have been hopelessly in love with my best friend. And yet while all of those things are likely factors, the biggest reason is probably that it’s just damn funny while also being wholly inoffensive. That’s uniquely refreshing, for as much as representation on TV has come a long way, there are still a ton of areas content-wise in which we have a long way to go.

[Image description: still from "Lovesick": a group of 6 friends stand in couples reading maps] Via Netflix
[Image description: still from “Lovesick”: a group of 6 friends standing in couples reading maps. A boy and a girl look at each other with hinted smiles on their faces.] Via Netflix

The characters in Lovesick are not perfect by any means – in fact, all three of the main leads are deeply flawed. Dylan is every lost boy you dated in college that genuinely tries to be nice but frequently ends up accidentally being a fuckboy not out of any maliciousness but just for lack of emotional sophistication. Evie (Antonia Thomas), meanwhile, is the relatable, talented hot mess who’s just trying to figure it all out and move past her unrequited feelings for Dylan so she can get on with her life. The trio of best friends is rounded out by Luke (Daniel Ings), who’s a charismatic, fiercely loyal, and ambitious ladies man with his own unresolved romantic baggage, but – and this is key – never creepy.

All three have incredible on-screen chemistry, making them feel like people you’d actually be friends with from college. Each of their earnestness and journeys to self-improvement make it one of the few shows I’ve ever seen where I’ve genuinely rooted for all of them the whole way through. The show doesn’t shy away from the difficult parts of love and its consequences either; in seasons 2 and 3, one character reckons with their emotional trauma in therapy. Their mental health struggles and the full benefits of therapy are treated as delicately as the subject deserves, without feeling maudlin or artificial.

Perhaps one of the most gratifying parts of watching Lovesick is its honesty. Under the witty banter and clever one-liners, Lovesick reminds us that love is messy and frequently, painfully ordinary. It’s rarely glamorous, nor is it just neatly wrapped up, even once you get the girl. Love requires hard work and brutal honesty. It requires patience and a willingness to unpack your previous trauma and most deeply rooted fears. Most of all, it requires the support of friends who are willing to help pick you up even after you repeatedly ignore their advice and get knocked down. All that, and lots of tea.

All 22 episodes of Lovesick are available for streaming on Netflix. Treat yourself today.

Get The Tempest in your inbox. Read more exclusives like this in our weekly newsletter!

  • Sumaia Masoom

    Sumaia Masoom is the proud daughter of Bangladeshi Muslim immigrants and a graduate of Northwestern University's School of Education & Social Policy. A product of rural Wisconsin and later the Chicago immigrant & refugee rights organizing community, she's equal parts passionate about college sports and diversity & inclusion – of identities, em-dashes, and free food in lunch meetings.