Platonic Review 2023 Tv Show Series Cast Crew Online
It’s kind of weird when a man and a woman are friends, right? Like a heterosexual adult man and woman, being the best of friends, and the words “sex” or “romance” never even enter their minds? And what if they both have their own partners or families, too? It shouldn’t be weird! In fact, if you think about it, it actually makes complete sense and is… healthy? Someone who is glued to your hip, down to go on an impromptu mini adventure, or is perfectly content with doing absolutely nothing together? This might sound a lot like elementary school, where male-female friendships happen naturally and daily, and typically don’t cause anyone to do a double take. But as an adult, for a cornucopia of complex reasons and societal assumptions, having a best friend who’s the opposite sex will surely raise eyebrows. Thankfully, the Apple TV+ series Platonic dives deep into this very tricky topic with hilarious and heartfelt results.
Co-created and directed by Nicholas Stoller, the comedic mastermind behind Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Get Him to the Greek, and Neighbors, Platonic is a refreshing exploration of adult friendships with the opposite sex and the complications that inevitably (and unfairly) arise. Led by Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne, the series follows Sylvia (Byrne), a wife, mother of three, and former lawyer who finds out through the grapevine that her ex-best friend from childhood Will (Rogen) has recently gotten divorced. These two used to be very close, with Will even serving as Maid of Honor at Sylvia’s wedding. With the encouragement of Charlie (Luke Macfarlane), Sylvia’s doe-eyed, mellowed-out, human Golden Retriever of a husband, Sylvia agrees to reach out. She can’t really imagine Will would want to hear from her, though, especially since their falling out might’ve involved Will’s now ex-wife, Audrey (Alisha Wainwright).
One of the many things Platonic does so well is authentic interactions and conversations. This might seem like an incredibly obvious and basic storytelling element that a show needs to get right, but top-tier, authentic dialogue laced with subtlety and trimmed of fat makes you realize how difficult and rare it is to achieve this feat. Will and Sylvia’s reunion in a coffee shop, for instance, is a perfect example; so much is conveyed in the awkward pauses, stumbles, and faux expressions as Will tries to feign interest in Sylvia’s family and Sylvia tries to act surprised in hearing about his divorce (the fact that it’s a “pity call” and not her actually apologizing for her role in the souring of their friendship becomes a bone of contention). Will’s body language and overconfidence when describing how things ended “amicably” with him and Audrey is a clear sign that they are actually on opposite terms.
The two desperately try to latch on to the familiarity they cultivated over their 20-year friendship, but as their awkward, stuttering sentences would indicate, their rapport is covered in dust. Later on, Will is genuinely surprised when Sylvia accepts his invitation and shows up to the party he was throwing at the Lucky Penny, a brewery where he’s the “brewmaster.” Sylvia witnesses a blowout argument between Will and Audrey on the street and grabs a drink with Will at a new locale to blow off steam. After a series of misadventures on the town, including a high, middle-of-the-night outing to Denny’s (is there any other way?), it’s as if the two of them never stopped being besties in the first place.
Another thing especially crucial for a show of this premise to nail is the chemistry between the two leads. It’s painfully obvious and distracting when two actors lack that on-screen spark, and in the case here, would ultimately seal the fate of the series. Fortunately, Byrne and Rogen’s chemistry is off-the-charts, with Will’s “’90s grunge clown” look (Sylvia’s words) and low-key persona being a perfect match to Sylvia’s flawless exterior and charming, albeit quite messy and dorky, true self. If you’ve been following their respective acting careers, it shouldn’t be a surprise that these two gel so perfectly together. They played a married couple and new parents in Neighbors and its sequel, both of which were directed by Stoller. If those films gave Byrne and Rogen the chance to fly and play off each other, then their work in Platonic enables them to bring out each other’s strengths and soar.
Most importantly, Byrne and Rogen are giving exceptional, nuanced performances. They know when to pull the joke trigger and make you laugh so hard you might have to pause the screen to collect yourself, but they also imbue their work with genuine moments of tenderness and vulnerability—just like a true and honest friendship should be. Rogen shows off his range as an actor, adhering to the trademark Rogen-ness we’ve come to love over the years while also disappearing into the role of a man struggling through a midlife crisis.
Platonic also avoids frustrating clichés and subverts expectations. Not once during the ten-episode first season do you get the impression that Will and Sylvia have any desire to be together romantically, with the show completely blowing past the will-they-won’t-they trope. In fact, even the thought of them being together in that way feels very wrong. Instead of making Sylvia’s husband Charlie an unlikable and forgettable plot device, he’s actually a well-defined character to care about. It would be easy to portray him as a villain who simply gets in the way of Sylvia and Will’s unrealized romance, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Instead, we root and feel for him when he’s feeling excluded and missing out on the joke.
There’s a moment later in the season where Charlie embarrasses himself by doing something completely out of character, but rather than immediately disliking him for stepping out of line, you kind of feel bad for him. Macfarlane fits the role like a glove and brings a pep to a part that could easily have been one-dimensional. His likability, plus the fact that his best friend at the law firm is played by Macfarlane’s Bros’ costar Guy Branum (which Stoller also directed), makes his screen time that much more memorable.
Byrne delivers her best performance since 2011’s smash hit comedy Bridesmaids, which means that much more when you realize how much strong work she’s done in both comedy and drama since inhabiting a condescending bridesmaid. Her physical comedy has never been better and has never looked easier thanks to her effortless charm. She makes a meal out of shoving French fries in her mouth (no pun intended) and her facial expressions show off an entire rollercoaster of emotions.
If you are expecting the typical Seth Rogen fare of bawdy jokes and an abundance of weed, then you are in for quite the surprise. Yes, there are weed gummies to be chewed and ketamine to be snorted, but it’s in no way relied upon for laughs. The series is not immune to silliness (nor should it be!) — with Rogen’s character getting attacked by a raccoon, an epic dance party breaking out in the bar, and a season-long gag of kicking over motorized scooters parked on the street, just for starters. Oh, and there might be some glass shattering and lizard stealing.
With Platonic, Stoller and co-writer Francesa Delbanco explore a type of relationship that’s not shown nearly enough in media and can even be considered a social taboo. Rogen and Byrne’s rapport as they seamlessly navigate the many highs and incredible lows that come with having a best friend in adulthood makes for one of the strongest new TV shows of the year. Not only does this crisp show never make a platonic relationship seem “less than” or lacking an ingredient, but respects it as a friendship with many benefits.