The final season of Easy is here, continuing Joe Swanberg’s illustrations of love and strife in the modern relationships of the people of Chicago. Previous seasons allowed us to dive into the homes of Chicago’s artistic and intellectual inhabitants, where we witnessed relationships transform, businesses become established, families flourish and everything in between. There was a compelling, reflexive quality that reminded the viewer of themselves, their friend or just human nature itself— the third season is no different. 

Every word, every point, every tear seems as convincing as the next

Swanberg maintains the thought-provoking nature of the show as he tackles the ultimate three-way relationship between money, love and technology— aspects that heavily define and shape modern love. We revisit our old friends Andi (Elizabeth Reaser) and Kyle (Michael Chernus) in ‘Swipe Left’ and ‘Swipe Right’, who are arguably the stand out characters of the season. In the first season, they transformed their marriage into an open relationship with the following season detailing their progression.

However, season 3 introduces the varying tensions and desires of both characters while placing a strain and growing distance between the couple. Their story ends with a conversation between the two as they come to terms with the cost of their choice. Suddenly, we feel as if we’re in that bar in Chicago.

This overwhelming scene sees the audience and characters alike being forced to behold the couple’s argument. We, the audience, are caught in an uneasy predicament with wanting to move from intrusively overhearing the heated confrontation but equally, being too engrossed to tear ourselves away. The exchange takes up a whole 19 minutes of the 35-minute episode but every word, every point, every tear seems as convincing as the next and its naturalistic style transports you to their realm of feeling. 

Love is raw and real and requires the kind of work that brings with it tears and inevitable heart ache

What is certain about the uncertainty of their final conversation is the authenticity of their love. The concept that we can love or be with multiple people at once is still alien in our society. Through Andi and Kyle, Swanberg illustrates the gulf between love and sex. Love is a concept structured and reinforced by our societal surroundings, while sex is a primitive act and natural self-expression of our biology.

Is polygamy the next development in our society, where the presence of social media and consumerist culture drives us to constantly seek more? The ending gives us no answer to this question as, their debate offers equally convincing arguments for both sides. We therefore have a picture of society submerged in a state of uncertainty, with each couple left to decide their own destiny. 

The life of Jacob (Marc Maron) is also revisited, a man devoured by his career and his own self-fashioning. We previously witnessed him dealing with the backlash from his habit of inserting women into his work without their permission. Now we are compelled to reevaluate his past with him, as he is pictured in an unfavourable light by a former student. Here, Swanberg tackles the Me Too movement. Jacob comes to symbolise another man at ease with the thought that his story is the only one that matters - yet this state of comfort is disrupted by guest star Melanie Lynksey as she challenges his privileged bubble. Sex and relationships are again implicated in a modern setting as Jacob’s male privilege and self-inherited power supersedes his opportunities for genuine human connection. He is severed from his own sense of responsibility, void of care for those who do not share his privileged bubble.

Is love now as artificial as the rest of our society, reduced to yet another transaction and physical pleasure?

Along with returning favourites we also meet new characters. The story of Skrap (Kali Skrap) takes us beyond the realms of the predominantly white middle class characters and extends the series’ portrait to illustrate a character of different emotional horizons and socio-economic background. Skrap is an opportunistic street vendor, vying for success against his previous boss. In him we see a view of love most notably different from the rest of the characters. He spends the entirety of his earnings on a night in a strip club and offers us the most physical version of love in a sensory sex scene with a stripper fuelled by neon lights and the slapping of skin. 

Here, we see love in a very modern guise; a form of love superseded by our capitalist culture and self-fashioning in the age of social media. It raises the question of authenticity and sincerity. As humans, is it our obligation to strive for a deeper connection that is forced upon us as our ultimate goal? Or is love now as artificial as the rest of our society, reduced to yet another transaction and physical pleasure?


Mountain View

Following You

These stories are transformed into tear-jerking portraits through the artistry of Swanberg. He allows both his actors and crew to have a large amount of artistic freedom as, they used the loose structure of the series to drift between variable thoughts, themes and perspectives. This sense of collaboration and improvisation truly shines through across the episodes, resulting in a naturalistic portrayal of love in its most honest state. 

Through these stories and speeches, we see Swanberg’s love letter to modern love. Love as he sees it is anything but easy. It’s raw and real and requires the kind of work that brings with it tears and inevitable heart ache. It has lost its straightforward innocence and gained, in the meantime, a diversity and complexity fused with the spirit of each generation. Yet, at the end of the nine episodes, one can’t help but feel an overwhelming sense of optimism and hope as, we see that love can and will prevail, and will continue to beat on with the progression of life.

Sponsored links

Partner links