At the Television Critics Association summer press tour, amid star-studded trailers and updates on superhero projects, Netflix announced that it had renewed its series Lovesick for a second season.
Doesn't sound familiar? Maybe you remember it better by its original, squirm-inducing title: Scrotal Recall. The eight-episode second season of the British series will premiere in its entirety November 17. The new name is presumably a bid to gain viewers who'd prefer not to have their viewing queues feature a part of the male anatomy, but series creator Daniel Edge and stars Johnny Flynn, Daniel Ings, and Antonia Thomas are all returning.
The show is worth a watch (no matter what it's called), so if you haven't done so yet, here's what to know about the surprisingly enjoyable British show.
What is Scrotal Recall?
Scrotal Recall (now Lovesick) is a British sitcom whose complete first season became available on Netflix on April 15. Though billed as a Netflix Original, the show was actually first broadcast on Britain’s Channel 4 in late 2014.
The show centers on Dylan (Johnny Flynn), a towheaded 20-something who just learned he has contracted chlamydia and must contact all of his former lovers to break the news. Each episode tells the story of Dylan’s relationship with a different partner and is named after the woman in question. The twist: rather than going through the list chronologically, as most people would probably do, Dylan decides to go in alphabetical order, allowing the show to jump around in time, instead of giving us a straightforward biography of Dylan’s romantic history.
The other main characters include Dylan’s roommate, obligatory walking-id bro Luke (Daniel Ings); and Dylan’s best friend Evie (Antonia Thomas), Dylan and Luke’s former roommate and Dylan’s dream girl.
Why is that title so familiar to me?
Probably because Netflix decided to put some muscle behind marketing it. You might be one of the people who received an email from Netflix in mid-April pushing the show, or maybe it popped up in the "recommended" box on the streaming site.
You might have even seen people complaining about said marketing campaign on Twitter.
Not only am I not interested, Netflix, I’m actively angry at being recommended something called ‘Scrotal Recall’.— Phineas (@Phineas) April 21, 2015
Scrotal Recall - Netflix show, or punchline to a joke told by a standup comedian at an open mic in 1992— Antoine Linguine (@aklingus) April 20, 2015
"Based upon your recent Google searches for 'what's the fucking point' and 'painless suicide,' Netflix recommends Scrotal Recall."— Bryan Cook (@BryanCooking) April 19, 2015
And the nominees for things Sean won't watch because of the title: 1) Scrotal Recall That's it.— Sean (@seandunn76) April 18, 2015
Is the show as raunchy as the title?
Surprisingly, no. The characters are certainly sex-focused — as 20-something characters in a sitcom about dating are wont to be — and there's the whole STD thing. But this is definitely more of a rom-com than a Showtime-esque skinfest.
There’s a shot of male buttocks in the pilot, as well as a minor plot runner involving a finger in an unexpected place, but overall things stay relatively PG-13. Still, you probably don't want to watch it with any kids, lest you find yourself having to attempt to explain what "Dutch mudflaps" are.
Is this like some shows I've already seen?
Sort of! While the "getting in touch with your exes" conceit has a whiff of High Fidelity about it, Scrotal Recall is more reminiscent of How I Met Your Mother. The two shows share plenty of DNA, most notably in their complicated flashback structures and their moony protagonists, perpetually in search of The One. Like HIMYM’s Ted Mosby, Dylan has a slightly goofy, hangdog charm, though he lacks the pompousness that made Ted so frequently irritating (as well as Ted’s obsession with settling down and having babies).
By that equation, Luke is the Barney Stinson stand-in, though where even Neil Patrick Harris’s ineffable charms were not enough to disguise the fact that Barney was basically a sociopath, Daniel Ings brings a vulnerability and genuine sense of caring to his character that displays the beating, (somewhat) morally conscious heart underneath the open-collared polo shirt.
What about women characters?
This is where the show disappoints. Many of the women on the show are more like sketches, anchored by a single defining trait: the older pragmatist, the controlling wife, the commitment-phobic sex fiend.
Even the female lead, Evie, is not quite as clearly drawn as her male counterparts — beyond "photographer" (too-easy character shorthand for "artistic") and "secretly into Dylan," we don't know a huge amount about what makes her tick. Still, as played by Antonia Thomas, she has spark, a real sense of fun, and an easy chemistry with Flynn that makes their characters' pining for each other pleasant to watch — if not totally believable.
But is it good?
Yes! It probably will not change your outlook on life, but if you're a fan of millennial-focused romantic comedies and good-looking people from the United Kingdom, go ahead and give this a shot. It's mostly light and frequently funny, and it deals with scenarios that will feel at least a bit familiar to anyone who's spent any time swimming (or drowning) in the dating pool.
Perhaps the strongest element is how the show cleverly uses its complicated timeline to play around with characters’ relationships and subvert expectations. Where HIMYM occasionally (especially in later seasons) seemed to lean on its flashbacks and flash-forwards as a gimmick or brain-teaser for especially focused fans, Recall instead uses it to show how the characters’ relationships to one another have changed over time.
On the obvious level, Dylan catching up with his exes gives him plenty of opportunity to reexamine his life and his choices; but as the audience watches the events unfold in the past and present, what was once played for laughs becomes more poignant, as we catch up to the characters’ realizations of what’s passed them by.
Also there are only six episodes in the first season, so it's not a huge time commitment.
Should Scrotal Recall be used as a model for how to tell former lovers about an STD in real life? Asking for a friend.
Vox does not recommend that in any way. But best of luck to your friend!
The first season of Scrotal Recall is streaming on Netflix. Season two will be available on Netflix November 17, 2016.