More to love
As LoveMe returns for its second season, star Bojana Novakovic considers the secret of its success with
AGREAT screen tearjerker doesn’t just dwell in pathos. Steel Magnolias, the beloved 1989 film starring Sally Field and Julia Roberts, proved a blend of comedy and tragedy could balance profound loss with deep bonding and warm humour. As Dolly Parton’s character Truvy Jones remarks in that film, “Laughter through tears is my favourite emotion.”
Binge’s Melbourne-made drama Love Me also punctuates heartache with levity. Based on a 2019 Swedish series, the series follows anxious widower Glen Mathieson (Hugo Weaving) and his adult children – successful obstetrician Clara (Bojana Novakovic) and aspiring lawyer Aaron (William Lodder) – as they navigate relationships with each other and their partners after the death of their matriarch Christine (Sarah Peirse).
Novakovic says the first series, which premiered in 2021, struck a chord during the Covid pandemic.
“We have a very specific audience, and that audience stops me on the street every day in Melbourne and wants to have a conversation with me about their families,” she says.
“It’s not like a normal show where people are like, ‘Can I get a picture?’ No-one wants to get a photo. People want to speak about the themes of the show.”
An advocate for many social causes, Novakovic says Love Me feels like a natural extension of her work, opening the door for earnest conversations about “what it means to have a family, what death means to love and love means to death, and how grief and loss coexist with love and actually birth love. It’s been amazing. I’ve been stopped by mothers, by fathers, by hipsters, and by everyone to chat about family life and family complexity.”
Although there is no shortage of shows about love on our screens – from reality dating franchises such as The Bachelor to long-running dramas like Grey’s Anatomy – Love Me has a distinct point of difference, Novakovic insists. “There are a lot of shows that give you hope, and they’re called soap operas,” she explains bluntly. “There are so many American rom-coms and all this kind of crap – not that all rom-coms are crap, but there are a lot of those Kleenex-y Hallmark shows, and that’s not what [ Love Me] is. I think what surprised people was that it was a show about real feelings and real-life relationships.”
Connecting people through the shared pain of death, Novakovic continues, “[has] proven time and time again to be fertile soil for love and hope. I think our fear of death prevents us from understanding that, and that’s why people were pleasantly surprised by the hope [in
Love Me], because it is a funny, sad show. But that’s real. We do get hope from loss.”
Bob Morley, who plays Clara’s partner Peter, says Love Me’s portrayal of romance at different ages and life stages adds to its appeal. When the show returns for season two, it picks up eight months later with 30-somethings Peter and Clara trying to have a baby; an early-20s Aaron awaiting the arrival of his daughter; and Glen and Anita (Heather Mitchell), both in their 60s, navigating married life while still getting to know each other.
“I just loved watching Heather and Hugo’s characters,” Morley says of season one.
“And talking to my own parents, they loved that part as well. It’s a nice thing to see love that is genuine and authentic, and to see that, if you open up your heart to it, you can let love in [at any age].”
SEASON TWO STREAMING, BINGE