“Platonic” is one of those anything-goes streaming series, where the prevailing sense is once high-profile talent agreed to star they could get away with doing anything – or in this case, practically nothing. Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne thus while away time bantering and sparring, in a show that ostensibly explores male-female friendships but that really plays more like a breezy ode to a stoner aesthetic.
Byrne’s Sylvia and Rogen’s Will were once best friends, before a falling out when she told him she couldn’t stand the woman he was going to marry. When she hears they’re getting divorced, she somewhat impulsively reaches out to him, and after initial awkwardness, they stumble right back into hanging out together again, in a way that unsettles both of their lives.
For Sylvia, a stay-at-home mom to three children, that dynamic at first irritates and later arouses suspicions in her husband (Luke Macfarlane), a successful lawyer who doesn’t really get jealous until people refer to Will as his wife’s “boyfriend.”
As for Will, he has work issues with the chums with whom he runs a brew pub and begins acting out on his new-found singleness by dating a 25-year-old woman, prompting him to fret about whether he’s becoming some sort of middle-aged cliché.
Counting Rogen and Byrne among its producers (naturally), there’s really not much more to “Platonic” than that. Conversations within the show last for long stretches, as the two day-drink and take drugs and turn to each other for advice, while constantly reassuring everyone that no, she’s married and nothing unsavory is happening.
The cavalier pacing is intermittently fun, if not as consistently funny as something like “Shrinking,” another Apple TV+ show that deals with the same kind of midlife-crisis-adjacent issues with a clearer sense of purpose.
“Platonic,” by contrast, doesn’t even really dig all that deeply into the notion of male-female relationships and how they’re perceived as we get older, or how Sylvia and Will reached the level of intimacy they once enjoyed and fairly quickly rediscover.
Given that, the show’s pleasures boil down to a general mood more than belly laughs, as well as smaller moments, like the music from “Working Girl” playing when Sylvia reenters the work force. Basically, the audience is left to serve as bystanders while Rogen and Byrne discuss anything and everything, in a way that’s refreshingly natural but also lacking in any sense of urgency.
Byrne has become a valuable contributor to Apple, with her other series, “Physical,” returning for a third and final season in August. Rogen has left his own streaming mark primarily as a producer, including Amazon’s hit superhero satire “The Boys.”
Yet “Platonic” operates in such a minor key it’s hard to escape the feel of another vanity project to feed the hungry altar of streaming. The net effect is a show, perhaps appropriately, that’s easy enough to like, and almost impossible to love.
“Platonic” premieres May 25 on Apple TV+. (Disclosure: Lowry’s wife works for a unit of Apple.)