When it comes to relationships, Gillian Jacobs is decidedly old-school. With the second season of Love, the Judd Apatow and Paul Rust-helmed glimpse into a modern, flawed relationship, finally arriving on Netflix, Jacobs chatted with Paste about the devotion of Community fans, the evolution of ratings, and why she stays away from dating apps (for herself, anyway).
Lots of people know you from Community. It broke ground by connecting so strongly with its fanbase via social media and other forward-thinking means, that they were able to essentially keep it alive for several years even without traditional ratings success. While you were on the show, did you personally feel that support?
Jacobs: Oh yeah, I felt it in so many ways…the tweets and messages we would get. I used to screen capture every time something from Community trended on Twitter. I felt like maybe we would have to send them all to NBC at some point to plead our case.
People from around the world became friends through their mutual love of Community. They organized their own fan art show in Los Angeles and there were three fan organizations conventions just for the show, CommuniCon. It was amazing to see people take their fandom from digital spaces into the real world and meet up and form friendships and interact with each other solely based on the shared love for Community.
How did that fan response compare to what you’ve seen thus far for Love?
Jacobs: Fans of Community from early on felt like they had to fight to save the show, which is not really the dynamic with Love. We were picked up for two seasons before we even started, and we’re about to make our third. It’s a less protective feeling. I don’t feel like fans of the show feel like they have to ensure its continuation as much, but I do see fan art drawings and I see people engaging with the show online; it’s just less of the “we have to ensure its continuance” and more “we enjoy it.”
When Mickey and Paul argue on Love, which is often, there is usually no clear-cut right or wrong. Every fight is debatable, depending on the characters’ point of views. Is that a big part of the discussion that comes with fan feedback for the show?
Jacobs: Yeah, Paul said that to him, it’s not a “will they, won’t they” show, but a “should they or shouldn’t they” show. There’s a strong case to be made on both sides. That’s what I love about it; there isn’t a clear hero or villain on the show. It’s people with their issues getting in their own way and then learning and then making the same mistake over again, and then trying again. I think that that lends itself to people feeling like they relate to Mickey or to Gus.
Love feels even more ready-made for binge-watching than other Netflix shows because the episodes bleed so seamlessly into one another. Is it jarring for you to break for a given season, knowing that the next one will likely pick up almost exactly where you left off?
Jacobs: The hardest thing about it was having to go from the end of season one immediately into the beginning of season two because it had been almost a year and everyone’s hair is slightly different. [Laughs] On a purely technical level, that was challenging. I’m used to shooting and then taking a hiatus and coming back, since that’s how TV works, but it’s a funny thing because you finish the season and then it’s months until it comes out. Season two’s about to come out and we’re going to start working on season three simultaneously. You do kind of feel like you’re a year off, since we’ve been done with season two for a long time and people are going to see it next month.
Looking at the general impact of newer forms of media and discussion on your most well-known projects, do you think that social media activity could someday take its place alongside traditional TV ratings as a significant barometer of a show’s success?
Jacobs: It’s a really interesting thing because I’m coming from network television where a rating system is so outdated and it’s really hard. Nielsen numbers are an accurate count of how many people are actually watching the show, versus going to Netflix where they know exactly how many people are watching the show, but they won’t tell anyone, including the people who are making the TV show. I feel more comfort in knowing that I’m on a platform that can accurately gauge how many people are watching the show as opposed to hoping that one of these random Nielsen families kept the channel on NBC long enough to see us.
While I do think that social media is a great way for people to discover the show and to keep the conversation going on about it, it is a very different thing when you’re on a platform that can actually accurately count the number of viewers they have.
Since Love does such a great job of reflecting what it’s like to date in today’s tech-heavy world, what are your thoughts on dating apps and all of the ways that we use technology to communicate before and after we get to know one another?
Jacobs: I’m not a good person to ask about this, because I’ve never dated online. I don’t really know what that dynamic is like, and something I hear people saying is that if you go on too long communicating through an app before you actually meet in person, sometimes people think they have more of a connection or they develop an attachment to a person that they haven’t met and then when they do meet them in person it can be disappointing or jarring because it’s not like the person you’ve been imagining through your online conversations.
On Love, these characters are definitely influenced by technology, even though they didn’t meet through a dating app. They do get tripped up by technology, especially when they first meet and dance around the idea of dating. Technological missteps can really throw a wrench into a relationship and misreading the tone of the text or not hearing back from someone for a few hours and assuming that means something about their feelings about you; you can really get into your own head and you can derail a relationship before it even starts with these missteps.
It’s not an area in which I’m an expert, so I’m feeling increasingly out of touch, but I really enjoy trying to write messages on dating apps for the members of our crew that are single. I would really essentially force them to let me write their dating profile. I’m living vicariously through the single members of our crew.
Has it been helpful to them?
Jacobs: I don’t know that I got them anywhere. [Laughs] I really enjoy it. I have a lot of opinions about the photos that people choose, like what order the photos are in. But, I don’t know if I’m actually effective.
Someone I know met someone the night before, got a number, and was like, “Should I text this person? Should I wait?” I was like, “Just text them. Text them right now and say, ‘Hi, it was nice to meet you.’” Then everyone else was like,”That was horrible advice!” I’m like, “Why play games? If you like them, tell them it was nice to meet them.” They are like, “You had her text at 8:00 A.M. She seems crazy.” I’m like, “I don’t know. I’m up.” [Laughs] I might do more harm than good.