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Platonic Review: Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne Shine as Chaotic Old Friends

Apple TV+'s tight new comedy is an engaging take on the bittersweetness of middle age

Keith Phipps
Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne, Platonic

Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne, Platonic

Apple TV+

A third-season episode How I Met Your Mother introduced the term "revertigo" to explain the psychological phenomenon that compels people to behave as they did earlier in their lives upon reconnecting with someone from their past. Years pass and people change, but reunions have a way of wiping all that out. Whoever you've become, a part of you is still the person you used to be. That phenomenon, and all the positive and destructive possibilities it introduces, is at the center of Platonic, a new series starring Rose Byrne and Seth Rogen as old friends who haven't been in each other's lives for years — then suddenly find themselves constantly turning to each other as they navigate simultaneous mid-life crises neither saw coming. Whether or not they'll help guide each other through those crises or only make them worse remains an open question through most of Platonic's 10-episode first season.

It all starts innocently enough. While trying to pick a movie for family movie night — and fighting off a request for The Emoji Movie, again, from the youngest of her three children — Sylvia (Byrne) learns that Will's (Rogen) marriage has ended. That she learns this not from Will but from his ex Audrey's (Alisha Wainwright) Instagram account confirms how far they've drifted apart. It was Sylvia's distaste for Audrey — or, more specifically, her willingness to be honest about that distaste — that first drove a wedge between her and the man she was once so close to that he served as the maid of honor at Sylvia's marriage to Charlie (Luke Macfarlane). But, at Charlie's suggestion, Sylvia decides to reach out and reconnect with her old pal, a reunion that will have considerable repercussions.

They're localized repercussions, however. Much of the pleasure of Platonic comes from its willingness to focus on small disasters. As Will and Sylvia get past their initial awkwardness, they fall back into old patterns. They drink, get high, wander around L.A., and get into shenanigans, but the chaos they bring to the world, and each other's lives, is never particularly dangerous. Sometimes it's even constructive. 




  • Rogen and Byrne are great
  • The show deftly balances silliness with ennui
  • The first season has a satisfying end


  • The Emoji Movie

For Will, Sylvia offers a chance to get some perspective on what his life has become. A brewmaster as a hip brew pub, he's gifted but uncompromising in ways that frustrate his business partners Andy (Tre Hale) and Reggie (Andrew Lopez), who want to exploit Will's creations by partnering with a cheesy, but successful, chain restaurant. Will is also, as he plunges into his forties, living an age-inappropriate life of late nights and younger women. For Sylvia, Will offers a chance to live like she used to before marriage, motherhood, and the decision to be a stay-at-home spouse while Charlie continued his career as a lawyer — once her own profession — got in the way. Sylvia discovers that she doesn't have the stamina she once did. (Accidentally snorting ketamine will do that.) But she also discovers an ability to articulate a growing sense of dissatisfaction with the status quo.

The series neatly balances silliness against the gravity of Will and Sylvia's ennui. Their misadventures remind them of times before their lives grew so complicated but also how nothing will bring those times back. Rogen's always been great at depicting insecurity and its ability to paralyze those who suffer from it, but his work as Will refines that ability to an intensity not often seen before. And, as always when given a comedic role, Byrne throws herself into the part. Sometimes literally: the series features plenty of pratfalls and dancing. But Byrne's expressiveness affords her a remarkable ability to let us see Sylvia's wheels spinning. She conveys a sense of what Sylvia's really thinking no matter what she's saying and lets flashes of acidity creep into the character's sweetness.

Rogen and Byrne played a married couple in both the 2014 film Neighbors and its 2016 sequel, and they revive their easy chemistry here, even if it's chemistry of a different kind. As the title suggests, Platonic is defined by their characters' friendship, not their attraction. Any attraction, if it exists at all, is muffled beneath layers upon layers of shared history, drunken exploits, and a need to have someone in their lives who gets them and doesn't want to offer judgment on their choices (except the really bad ones). While others, including Charlie, can be weirded out by their closeness, it's never really a problem for Sylvia and Will.

Both Neighbors films were directed by Nicholas Stoller, who directs every episode and serves as Platonic's co-creator with Francesca Delbanco (Stoller's real-life wife, who also has a funny recurring role as a realtor-to-the-stars). The reunion extends even further: Carla Gallo, another Neighbors alum, co-stars as Sylvia's best friend Katie, and both Macfarlane and Guy Branum appeared in the quite good (and underseen) Stoller-directed 2022 comedy Bros. It often plays like a show made by people who've worked together before, but it never feels indulgent. The comedy stays loose, but the episodes remain tight and focused.

They also form a story with a distinct beginning, middle, and end. Future seasons of Platonic would certainly be welcome, but this one is satisfyingly self-contained. Beneath gags about late-night cell phone etiquette, nightmarish home renovation projects, and raccoons is a bittersweet exploration of giving up youthfulness for middle age, what's lost and gained in the exchange, and the realization that your true friends are the ones still with you on the other side.

Premieres: Three episodes premiere on Apple TV+ on Wednesday, May 24, with subsequent episodes rolling out weekly after that
Who's in it: Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne, Luke Macfarlane
Who's behind it: Francesca Delbanco and Nicholas Stoller
For fans of: Breezy hang-out comedies
How many episodes we watched: 10 of 10