Seth Rogen's 'Platonic' Is a Welcome Return to the Friendship Comedies of the 2000s

Created by Francesca Delbanco and Nicholas Stoller

Starring Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne, Luke Macfarlane, Carla Gallo, Tre Hale, Andrew Lopez, Vinny Thomas

Photo courtesy of Apple TV+

BY Alex HudsonPublished Aug 8, 2023

When rom-com titan Nicholas Stoller makes a show called Platonic starring Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne — who have previously played a married couple in the Neighbors films — it's only natural to assume that the plot will be a will-they-won't-they dance towards the friends eventually getting together.

The most refreshing part of Platonic, therefore, is that it really does offer exactly what the title suggests: a story of friendship between a pair whose relationship is entirely non-sexual. Even as Will (Rogen) and Sylvia (Byrne) get messily tangled up in one another's lives — making Sylvia's husband (Luke Macfarlane) jealous and earning Will the nickname of her "boyfriend" — Platonic never remotely seems like it's driving towards a romantic union. Which, spoiler alert, it's not.

Will is a spin on pretty much every character Rogen plays these days: a snarky yet sweet man child living out a stunted adolescence as the brewmaster of a newly opened hipster bar. He got divorced a few months back, leading him to reconnect with former bestie Sylvia, whom he had previously stopped hanging out with at the insistence of his then-wife Audrey (Alisha Wainwright).

Sylvia is a trained lawyer who has spent the past 13 years as a stay-at-home mom of three, and, with her youngest now in elementary school, she finds herself with some free time during the days — which aligns perfectly with Rogen's more free-spirited lifestyle, as he careens between work crises and shouting matches with his ex.

One of the joys of Platonic is watching Sylvia gradually come out of her shell with the encouragement of her sloppy friend. At the beginning of the 10-episode run, it's not quite clear how this prim, proper and highly educated mom was ever friends with a slob like Will, but as Sylvia descends into a midlife crisis, the chemistry between the friends increases with each goofy adventure.

The connection between the leads is enhanced by a strong undercard of comedic talents: Will's motley crew of colleagues deliver lots of laughs, particularly the confidently inept beer-maker (Vinny Thomas), while Carla Gallo delivers some of the best zingers as Sylvia's friend Katie. The show stops at nothing to get a laugh, with some surprisingly pointed jabs at Shia LaBeouf, Machine Gun Kelly, Ellen DeGeneres, Seth Green and Mel Gibson, and moments of comedy gore and hard drug use keeping the show in the 18+ spirit of Apatow-era comedy. (Apatow isn't involved in the show, incidentally, but it very much feels like the kind of thing he was making in the '00s.)

The characters fuck up and wear their flaws on their sleeves, but Platonic never pushes past the point of easy-to-digest pleasantness. Much aughts classics I Love You, Man and Superbad, Platonic is a rare sort of triumph: a twist on the rom-com that makes friendship seem just as fraught, tender and compelling as romance, raising the question why this isn't the subject of more films and shows.
(Apple TV+)

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