Why ‘Love’ Dedicated an Entire Episode to Claudia O’Doherty’s Bertie

Paul Rust tells TheWrap why Gillian Jacobs’ on-screen BFF is no “sounding board”

Last Updated: March 13, 2018 @ 10:21 AM

(Minor spoilers ahead for the third season of “Love”). 

The third and final season of Netflix’s romantic comedy series “Love” has arrived, and with the new season we get more insight into our favorite gal pal from Down Under, Bertie (Claudia O’Doherty), with an entire episode dedicated to her character.  

From the very start of the series, Season 1, it’s been something we wanted to do,” series creator and star Paul Rust told TheWrap in a recent interview. “By Season 3 we were like, well this has to happen because Claudia O’Doherty is such a phenomenally talented actor and so gifted, we felt like she could 110 percent carry an episode and make it compelling.”

Rust said another reason for the episode was to turn the rom-com best friend stereotype on its head.

“We never wanted Claudia’s Bertie character to be the stock main-protagonist-female-best-friend-who-gives-advice and is just there to be a sounding board,” he said. “We wanted to make sure that she was also a character who had dimensions and we thought ‘oh, well the idea of devoting a complete half hour to getting inside her mind would be really fun.”

The episode — the fifth in the season — takes place on Bertie’s first birthday in the United States, beginning with a Skype call from her family in Australia and ending with a candle-lit homecoming thanks to her dumpy (and soon-to-be-ex) boyfriend Randy (Mike Mitchell).

But it’s the middle of the episode that brings out some more depth to Bertie’s character. It’s been clear for a while that Bertie is drifting away from Randy — he eats all her food, spends her money and sleeps in her house — but finds it difficult to break up with him. But when he says he can’t celebrate her birthday because of a colonoscopy appointment the next day, Bertie heads to the Smokehouse, where their friend Chris (Chris Witaske) works as a server, for some free birthday cake.

Chris, upon hearing Bertie has no further plans for her special day, invites her to an amateur wrestling night and they have a great time … and it’s clear that the spark of feelings for one another has been ignited.

“Partly, what we were interested in exploring was just like: what happens when somebody’s in a relationship they know isn’t right but it’s hard to get out of?” Rust said. 

Bertie and Chris end up hooking up while she’s still with Randy, but her cheating doesn’t feel as off-putting as when Mickey hooked up with Dustin (Rich Sommer) because we’re rooting for Bertie and Chris, who are both sweet and dorky and kind of perfect for each other.

Rust said there was something “interesting” in exploring cheating with a character that hasn’t been “underlined for you as problematic.”

What if we actually took the character that was the most seemingly innocent and beloved and put them in the situation like that?” Rust said. “It was basically a way to be like, ‘what do you think about cheating NOW when it’s somebody you really like and you are okay with them cheating?'”

The rest of the season continues to explore Bertie’s relationships with both Randy and Chris, and true to the show’s dedication to portraying real-life situations, ends with a little bit of hurt and a little bit of happy.

The third and final season of “Love” is now streaming on Netflix.