[Warning: General spoilers ahead.]
Apple TV+ launches its next tentpole series this week with Platonic, a comedy notable for pairing up longtime pals Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne (who’s already established on the streamer with Physical, which was just renewed for its third and final season). While the duo printed money for the two Neighbors feature films, theirs is also a particular brand of humor — a little combative with genuine affection simmering beneath the surface. It just takes a little while to get there.
Platonic, from Neighbors and Bros director Nick Stoller and Francesca Delbanco, is exactly that, but it’s also a story of two people who were long ago BFFs at a very different time in their lives, and whose reunion after a long estrangement isn’t without its hurdles. The series is notable for us at TV Goodness because it brings Luke Macfarlane, one our absolute, longtime favorites, back onto our screens every week.
In Platonic, Macfarlane is Charlie, an attorney and the steadfast husband to Byrne’s Sylvia, who paused a legal career 13 years earlier to raise their three children. When she learns that Will (Rogen), now a local co-owner of a brew pub, has divorced the wife she never liked — which she mistakenly affirmed out loud, effectively ending their friendship — it’s Charlie who, for better or worse, suggests that she extend an olive branch.
That first coffee meet up goes about as awkwardly as you’d expect, until Sylvia takes a second run at it, trying to disprove Will’s perception that she’s lost that joie de vivre they’d shared as college friends. Several hours into a bananas evening together, they spark, and soon Charlie is the odd man out.
Over the course of the season’s 10 episodes, We see the push and pull of that rekindled friendship as Sylvia reclaims a part of herself she thought she’d lost, Will learns that maybe adulting isn’t so terrible, and Charlie finds out that he has a very specific place and purpose in Sylvia’s life. I recently chatted with Macfarlane about the show.
Macfarlane enjoyed the dynamic of Charlie being the stabilizing force for Sylvia. “[Bros director] Nick Stoller asked me to do it about a month after he finished Bros. He sent me the first episode and the way Charlie was described is a real family man, incredibly loyal and incredibly morally strong. And I remember being very flattered that Nick and Francesca thought of me that way,” he recalls.
“And I’d like to think that that’s the way I want to be. And it was really lovely that Nick was able to see that in me, especially after working with me on Bros, where my character was pretty shut down and not as in touch with his feelings. And that’s not to say that Charlie doesn’t go through his journey, but I think at his core he’s a very kind and loyal and a morally strong guy. So I think that that was something that I try to bring to a lot of my characters who I really like to play.”
“[That stability] is not a bad thing and we don’t need to be afraid of that. It links to that middle age [soul-searching of], ‘Is this it? Is this what I’ve done? Is this where we are?’ And Charlie’s really much more content with that. I think he really likes the life he has made for himself. He’s very clear that way about himself. Probably part of the reason he loves Sylvia so much is she’s a little more complicated than him. She’s a little more conflicted.”
Macfarlane appreciated the show’s sometimes fractious take on the titular friendship. “I love that aspect of the show, and I do feel like it’s very fresh, that idea of seeing a friendship between a man and a woman that is really at the center [of a show] and the complexities of that,” he says.
“And that really initially appealed to me. I remember [wondering], ‘Is that real? Is that true?’ And I really was scratching my brain trying to think of other examples, especially one that was so contentious, that exists in our television space. And I really couldn’t come up with anything. So I love that freshness of it.”
“I will admit, when I went and watched the first two episodes at the premiere recently, I [thought], ‘I’m glad I didn’t see all this. Because it is hard.’ I could feel left out reading it on the page, but seeing my wife have such fun with this guy who was not part of my life … it was definitely hard, and they weren’t really doing anything wrong. But that tension’s interesting, I think.”
“And it continues to be sort of hot and contentious and when you’re making something, especially with all the really, really talented funny people [here], you think a lot about the humor and the jokes. Everybody making it had a similar comic sensibility. There were a lot of jokes and it’s funny, funny, funny.”
“And I remember being surprised watching it, like, ‘Oh, there’s something really underneath this all that really itches,’ the discomfort and quirkiness of watching that play out, which I think is required for good comedy. It gives it a kind of stakes and the kind of tension that I think they really were very successful at pulling off.”
Macfarlane has worked across several genres, and he loved working in an environment where humor imbues everything, which allowed him to demonstrate that comedy’s very much in his wheelhouse. “It’s the funnest, especially if you feel really safe with the person that you’re shooting tennis balls with. Rose is so funny and so game and so kind,” he explains.
“I didn’t have a ton to do with Seth, but boy oh boy, can he throw them back at you without even thinking about it. He has always got a line. And I love that. It’s really fun, and kind of causes you to get out of your head a little bit. I always think of the careers that I really admire the most, like John Hamm. He could be Don Draper, but he can also be goofy. I like playing in that area.”
The series shot on location in Los Angeles and on the Paramount lot – the first time Macfarlane’s been able to work at home on a series since his Brothers & Sisters run. “Honestly, it was such a pleasure. There’s a different kind of joy in being able to go and make a Hallmark movie and be really in it and be away from any distractions. But especially with a show like Platonic, which is kind of fast-paced and really is a show about LA, [being here] was nice,” he shares.
“It’s a different kind of comfort than going away to Vancouver and getting to escape into a beautiful, perfect world, which is often the world that we find Hallmark movies in. [For this], it helps with the energy because when you are at home, you’ve always got a million and one things going on and that felt very true [to the story]. And I love that. Not to mention it’s just super easy and convenient.”
Platonic premieres its first three episodes on Apple TV+ this Wednesday, May 24th, at 12:01 am ET, with the remaining seven episodes airing each Wednesday thereafter. Here’s a sneak peek.
Photos and video courtesy of Apple TV+.
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