TV Shows

'Platonic' is more than funny; it's an epic hang

Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne deliver the best comedy of the summer.
By Kristy Puchko  on 
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Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne star in "Platonic."
Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne are heart-warming and hilarious in "Platonic." Credit: Apple TV+

Welcome to Thanks, I Love It, our series highlighting something onscreen we're obsessed with this week.

It takes some serious chutzpah to try to reclaim the terrain that Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan iconically charted in the classic romantic-comedy When Harry Met Sally… Yet, Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne have done just that — and with aplomb! — in Platonic, a 10-part comedy series that's as heartfelt as it is hilarious. 

But don't get it twisted. This isn't a prolonged remake retreading a tale of opposites-attract romance. Instead, this show takes that kinetic dynamic and the odd-couple concept and spins it into a series of misadventures that are thrillingly outrageous and freshly entertaining. This isn't just a story about friendship; it's the hang-out series you may well be aching for. 

What's Platonic about? 

Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne star in "Platonic."
Credit: Apple TV+

New to Apple TV+, Platonic reunites the stars and helmer of the R-rated comedy hits Neighbors and Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising. Alongside co-creator/co-writer/co-exec producer (and IRL partner) Francesca Delbanco, Nicholas Stoller directs, contributes to the writers' room on this series, and executive produces alongside leads Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne. The show explores the chaotically charming chemistry of these stars, set against a Los Angeles backdrop of hipster hangs, Americana extravaganzas, and suburban malaise. 

In their youth, Will (Rogen) and Sylvia (Byrne) were the best of friends, but marriages to other people slowly strained their bond to its breaking point. Sylvia had kids to raise as a stay-at-home mom; Will had a wife who hated Sylvia (and the feeling was mutual). Now, with Will freshly divorced, there's hope for reconnection. At first, it seems these fortysomething former friends have grown too far apart. He's a pretentious hipster brewmaster chasing late nights, hook-ups, and good times, mostly to ignore his broken heart. She's a former lawyer who decided 13 years ago to focus on her family; now her kindergartener is shrugging her off at morning pick-up. 

Both are 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, sex talk that's more preposterous than seductive, and childish shouting matches. But with everyone around them ready to be a grown-up, Will and Sylvia find a blissful — and sometimes self-sabotaging — solace in being "a mess" together. 

Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne are magic and mayhem together. 

Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne ride scooters in "Platonic."
Credit: Apple TV+

As was true in Neighbors, Rogen and Byrne have an enchanting chemistry that feels authentically intimate. Like, you believe that in real life, they probably text each other yo' mama jokes in the middle of the night. There's a combativeness in their exchanges, as has been true for every comedy duo worth their salt since Abbott and Costello. But even amid name-calling and scorching burns, their affection for each other shines. And best of all, theirs is the kind of chemistry that seems to welcome us into it, in a sense saving a space for us at that Denny's booth or pulling up a bar stool so we can chant and rally and roar too. 

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Platonic makes masterful use of the pair's chemistry, as well as their distinctive talents. Rogen is set up with side quests that involve manchild meltdowns of sprayed beer, cringe-comedy sexcapades, and outbursts of juvenile rage 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 a bait-and-switch. Beneath the surface of this put-together mum 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's smiling politely or landing punchlines. When Will is around, her posture relaxes, and her limbs go from graceful to gangly as she bursts into comically bad dance moves.

Within these moments, there is exhilarating freedom of reclaimed youth. We can see clearly Will and Sylvia as they were before adulting became a grind instead of a goal. And in their petulant rebellions, these twins in crisis offer us the vicarious thrill of making the ludicrously bad call, doing the gleefully stupid thing, and just relishing in the mess of it all. Sometimes it feels fucking good to make a scene!

Millennial angst is hilarious in Platonic. 

Luke MacFarlane and Rose Byrne play spouses in "Platonic."
Credit: Apple TV+

Stoller, Rogen, and Byrne may be getting older, wiser, more mature, blah blah blah — but punchlines will not be pulled for the faint of heart. Guffaw-inducing jokes are made involving Angela Merkel, Mel Gibson, Cara Delevingne, and the Golden State Killer. Awkward moments extend into jaw-droppingly epic sequences of awkwardness, including a particularly satisfying comeuppance for a smug old man who can never remember Sylvia's name. There'll be tacky makeovers, scooter-centric vandalism, and even a very special recreation of the classic dance from Coyote Ugly

In a lot of their banter and culture clashing, you can see the echoes of When Harry Met Sally… The show even name-drops 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 isn't whether or not men and women can be friends; it's whether or not they truly have outgrown each other. And the tension of this is sensational, because we love them together, but they are collaborators in chaos. Can they grow up (finally) together?

Stellar supporting turns are offered by Luke Macfarlane, Carla Gallo, Guy Branum, Janet Varney, and Tre Hale, all of whom lend some nuance to portrayals of being 40 and still figuring it out. By contrast, a pair of twentysomething characters — played by the wonderfully daffy duo Vinny Thomas and Emily Kimball — may seem thinly sketched, coming off as absurdly naive and endlessly enthusiastic. But Platonic looks at them through the lens of Will and Sylvia, who see these young people for all they themselves lack. There's a growling undercurrent of envy that gives the show a sharp edge over breezy 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 mocking endnote for a jolting epiphany. 

This mix of middle-aged angst and gleeful silliness is the alchemy of Platonic, with Byrne and Rogen hitting every flavor note with zeal and a bit of gnarly wrath. This show is more than hilarious. It's also an invitation to reconnect with those parts of ourselves we fear we may have aged out of — for better or for worse. It's a call in the middle of the night to bullshit about nothing and everything. It's a shoulder to lean on and a rallying cry. We may be "old," but we're not dead yet. And Platonic makes room for us elder millennials to rage, recuperate, and be seen — maybe not at our best, but at our relatable worst.

In that way, this show captures the energy of the very best hangouts. You'll laugh. You'll cringe. You'll cackle. You'll want to come back and do it all again. 

Platonic's first three episodes premiere on Apple TV+ on May 24, with new episodes each Wednesday. (opens in a new tab)

More in Apple, Streaming

Kristy Puchko is the Film Editor at Mashable. Based in New York City, she's an established film critic and entertainment reporter, who has traveled the world on assignment, covered a variety of film festivals, co-hosted movie-focused podcasts, interviewed a wide array of performers and filmmakers, and had her work published on, Vanity Fair, and The Guardian. A member of the Critics Choice Association and GALECA as well as a Top Critic on Rotten Tomatoes, Kristy's primary focus is movies. However, she's also been known to gush over television, podcasts, and board games. You can follow her on Twitter. (opens in a new tab)

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