The effortless chemistry between Rose Byrne and Seth Rogen more than makes up for the shortcomings in this very funny series.
Plot: A platonic pair of former best friends approaching midlife who reconnect after a long rift. The duo’s friendship becomes all consuming—and destabilizes their lives in a hilarious way.
Review: A question that has been used as fodder for countless romantic comedies over the years is whether a man and a woman can be friends without becoming sexual. Rob Reiner’s classic When Harry Met Sally asked that question, and the answer was a resounding no. But the new series Platonic starring Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne, may prove otherwise. Reuniting the stars of the two Neighbors films, Platonic is a relationship comedy about two people in very different places who rediscover a friendship that helps them reassess parts of their lives that they otherwise could not contend with. It is a sweet and funny series that benefits from the charm and effortless chemistry between Rogen and Byrne and may end up being one of the funniest new series of the year.
Platonic opens with Sylvia (Rose Byrne), a stay-at-home mom and former lawyer, as she contends with the monotony of her early forties. She loves her husband Charlie (Luke Macfarlane) and her three kids, but living in a small house with one bathroom. Out of the blue, she learns that her former best friend Will (Seth Rogen) has recently gotten divorced. Sylvia and Will had a falling out several years earlier and have not spoken, but she reaches out to meet him for coffee. While things start stiffly, Sylvia and Will soon remember how much fun they had together, and while Will still lives life like a twenty-something, Sylvia needs energy and spontaneity. Over the ten episodes of Platonic, the duo get into a lot of trouble as they egg each other on to make changes in their lives while still getting on each other’s nerves as only the best of friends can.
From the moment she appears on screen, Rose Byrne is immediately relatable as Sylvia. Stuck in the rut of your early 40s is no picnic, and Byrne exudes charm as the still fun person she used to be before kids and carpools overran her life. Byrne also transforms when she is on screen with Seth Rogen, who has perfected playing variations of the same character without making them feel redundant. Here, both play off of each other as believable friends with a similar dynamic to the one they shared in their big-screen outings. Watching the two actors have conversations together, which they frequently do in this series, is consistently funny and feels like they were captured having real conversations. The series progresses through multiple sequences and plotlines that follow the thread of Sylvia and Will being hesitant to hang out, having a blast hanging out, making bad decisions, regretting those decisions, fighting with each other, then reconciling. This pattern should get old, but I enjoyed the Platonic rhythm more after each episode.
It would be easy to dismiss Platonic as just another padded program for AppleTV+ to tout the big names they have on board. Rose Byrne has already headlined a series for the streamer (the retro dramedy Physical), while Rogen has stuck to producing and writing along with some guest roles here and there. Platonic also gathers a solid ensemble of experienced comedic performers, including Carla Gallo, Guy Branum, and Vinny Thomas. Most of the series focuses on Byrne and Rogen, who carry this series so well that I constantly waited for the other shoe to drop and the two to end up in bed together. But, true to the series title, the two remain the best of friends and defy gender tropes while digging each other constantly about it. The series never feels forced and caters to the actor’s strengths. Rogen is good, but this series gives Rose Byrne her biggest stretch into comedy to date, and she is hilarious.
Created by married couple Francesca Delbanco and Nicholas Stoller, Platonic is weakest when focused on the individual lives of the characters, especially that of Will. Seth Rogen can often make anything fun to watch, but for most of this series, Will’s life is sad and a little bleak. Stoller and Delbanco, who live in Los Angeles with their three kids, likely built Sylvia’s life from their own experiences. It feels more rooted in reality and funnier than Will’s divorce storyline. The drastic differences in where the characters are in their lives sometimes make the story feel incredulous that these two people would keep their friendship going. However, I still laughed at the over-the-top misadventures the two get into involving everything from bearded dragons to UFOs and more.
There are shows that are light and enjoyable while still being substantial enough to garner a second look. Platonic is a romantic comedy that does not result in sex, and it works far better than I expected. Hanging out with Rose Byrne and Seth Rogen for half-hour segments is full of laughs. The series would have been better served had it taken any conversation about the romantic side of any girl/guy relationship out of the mix and treated these characters as friends. The dramatic arcs are not as engaging as they could have been, but multiple hilarious moments in each episode make up for the narrative shortcomings in this series. AppleTV+ is cornering the market on series that evoke smiles and feel-good moments, and Platonic is a solid addition to that roster.
Platonic is now streaming on AppleTV+.
Originally published at https://www.joblo.com/platonic-tv-review/