Rose Byrne and Seth Rogen’s chemistry fuels a dramedy with a surprisingly nuanced feel for friendship and encroaching middle-age.
This review of the Apple TV+ series Platonic Season 1 does not contain spoilers.
Any story about an ostensibly platonic relationship is always a bluff. Like When Harry Met Sally, which is namechecked minutes into the first episode of Platonic, an Apple TV+ dramedy from Nicholas Stoller and Francesca Delbanco, the point is always how the benefits outweigh the friendship in the end.
Harry and Sally get together, after all.
Platonic Season 1 review and plot summary
But Will (Seth Rogen) and Sylvia (Rose Byrne) aren’t typical rom-com leads, and Platonic isn’t a typical rom-com story. At least in its early going, it isn’t a romance at all, really – it’s an outright comedy about two people in early middle age who aren’t happy with their lot in life and revive their old best friendship to bring irresponsibility and excess back into their lives.
It has been five years since Will and Sylvia spoke. They parted on bad terms after the latter told the former his fiancé wasn’t right for him, which turned out to be prescient since they’re now divorced. Sylvia’s a qualified attorney but is currently playing second fiddle to her husband Charlie (Luke MacFarlane), who is on the cusp of making partner while she takes the kids to and from school.
She’s happy, then, but unsatisfied, and the same can be said of Will, a brewmaster for a hip L.A. bar that he owns a minority share in alongside some friends, including the brother of his ex-wife. He dresses exclusively in shorts and is still smarting from the breakdown of his marriage.
It isn’t immediately apparent what these two see in each other. They get back in touch when Sylvia reaches out after hearing about the divorce, but they only begin to reconnect when they regress back into their college-age heydays, getting drunk and acting irresponsibly. It starts to become clear that, to Will, Sylvia represents the opportunity for a feminine connection that is less frivolous than his hook-ups, perhaps to replace the loss of his wife, and to Sylvia, Will represents a carefree lifestyle she has left behind in motherhood.
Is Platonic good or bad?
The obvious selling point of Platonic is the relationship between Will and Sylvia, which is powered by Byrne and Rogen’s chemistry. Few people bought them as a married couple in Neighbors almost precisely because of the easy-going dynamic that sells them as best friends here. The script is very good at playfully highlighting the silliness of the relationship – and the perception others have of it – while also exploring what’s genuine about both characters and their connection to each other.
This makes Platonic very much a double act rather than an ensemble, and supporting characters, even fairly important ones, are shuffled into the margins by the focus on Will and Sylvia’s misadventures.
Is Platonic worth watching?
Still, anyone who’s a fan of these two, and anyone who’s interested in a somewhat atypical male-female relationship on TV, will find a very likable series here.
It’s mostly frivolous, sure, but there’s enough nuance in the characterization that you can find some value in the show’s depiction of love, friendship, and, yes, romance. And failing that there are nevertheless some big laughs to be had along the way.
What did you think of Platonic Season 1? Comment below.
You can watch this series with a subscription to Apple TV+.