Lovesick. Image shows from L to R: Luke (Daniel Ings), Evie (Antonia Thomas), Dylan (Johnny Flynn). Copyright: Clerkenwell Films.

Lovesick

Netflix and Channel 4 sitcom about relationships and secret love. 22 episodes (3 series), 2014 - 2018. Stars Johnny Flynn, Antonia Thomas, Daniel Ings, Joshua McGuire and others.

Lovesick. Image shows from L to R: Dylan (Johnny Flynn), Evie (Antonia Thomas), Luke (Daniel Ings). Copyright: Clerkenwell Films.

About Lovesick

Tom Edge, the creator of Scrotal Recall, introduces the show...

Lovesick. Image shows from L to R: Dylan (Johnny Flynn), Evie (Antonia Thomas), Luke (Daniel Ings). Copyright: Clerkenwell Films.The idea for Scrotal Recall sprang from a simple thought - could tracking a bacterium on its silent journey from one lover to the next be a way to map somebody's troubled love-life?

Working the idea up in close collaboration with Ed MacDonald and Andy Baker at Clerkenwell Films (both committed fans of Annie Hall) we decided to use this "map" device to navigate an audience through a single, central on-again/mostly-off-again relationship, one spanning a decade in which both parties date other people, and whose feelings for each other never quite overlap at the right time. A story closer in spirit to When Harry Met Sally than Porky's.

So, not a story about a string of sexual encounters after all; rather, the women on our protagonist's list are punctuation marks in the chapters of his early adulthood, the points-of-reference in a decade of his life and the lives of his two closest friends. This is how we arrived at the story of Dylan and Evie (and Luke).

Though the show uses Dylan's past sexual partners to determine when and where we flash back to, its emotional focus is always on the relationship between the three of them. Although Dylan is the one whose diagnosis orients us, we conceived of the show as being an ensemble. In that respect, Luke provides a third, distinct point-of-view on questions of love, sex, loyalty and commitment. And Luke's love of his two friends is one of the most enduring relationships seen in the show.

The show's structure

We've enjoyed the slow-burn romances of many sitcom couples: Ross and Rachel, Daphne and Niles, Tim and Dawn et al, where the fundamental question is whether, or in truth just when, they will finally get together. And with Scrotal Recall that question is certainly in the mix in the "present day" part of each episode. Will Dylan say anything to Evie? How might she respond? Might they in fact be wrong for each other after all? Familiar tropes for a romantic comedy. But then Dylan gets his STI call... and in making contact with his previous sexual partners he is forced to reflect on the past decade, which lets us do something a bit different.

Lovesick. Image shows from L to R: Dylan (Johnny Flynn), Evie (Antonia Thomas), Luke (Daniel Ings). Copyright: Clerkenwell Films.The show moves back-and-forth in time, circling around the same characters, picking apart their history in all directions. For example, in Episode 1's flashback we see Dylan catastrophic relationship with his date at a wedding they attend. It's a story that feels very final.

But then in Episode 4, we flash back two weeks prior to that wedding, and see Dylan and his date in their pre-dumping prime... coming to understand why their relationship once seemed worth pursuing.

This structure lets us explore how emotions are keenly felt in the heat of the moment but dim quickly with hindsight; love strong enough to poleaxe you seems faintly ludicrous from the vantage point of a just a few years on.

The question Dylan has to answer is whether his vantage point in the present is finally letting him see things clearly, or if he's staring at the wrong problem again.

Interviews with the cast