Rose Byrne and Seth Rogen on the Comedy of Midlife Meltdowns and Platonic Friendships

The stars of Apple TV+'s new comedy talk midlife crises, generational divides, and pick apart the myth that men and women can't have meaningful friendships.

by | May 23, 2023 | Comments

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Apple TV+’s new comedy Platonic stars Rose Byrne and Seth Rogen as Sylvia (a stay-at-home mom looking to re-enter the workforce) and Will (a newly divorced bar owner and brewmaster), two friends who rekindle a broken friendship only to find solace in each others’ chaos as they enter middle age. Co-created by married couple Nicholas Stoller (who worked with the duo on Neighbors and Neighbors 2) and Frances Delbanco (Friends From College, Forgetting Sarah Marshall), the series premieres to the streamer on Wednesday, May 24.

Luke Macfarlane, Carla Gallo, Alisha Wainwright, Tre Hale, Andrew Lopez, Emily Kimball, Janet Varney, and Guy Branum round out the supporting cast of characters who, in some way or another, are all impacted by Sylvia and Will’s friendship.

Instead of playing into the commonly used will they/won’t they trope (Platonic gives a nod to When Harry Met Sally early on, and then completely dismisses the notion that men and women can’t just be friends), the series utilizes the natural chemistry and friendship of its stars, along with subject matter inspired by Stoller and Delbanco’s lives, to bring to life a surprisingly thought-provoking, honest, and downright hilarious exploration of modern day friendships, and the all too real threat of the midlife crisis — something we’ll all deal with at one point or another.

Rotten Tomatoes spoke with Byrne and Rogen about the nature of modern-day platonic relationships, the innate humor in midlife meltdowns, and the generational divide that helps bring Platonic to life.

(Photo by Apple TV+)

Aaron Pruner for Rotten Tomatoes: Can you both describe the friendship between Will and Sylvia? How is it different from male-female relationships we’ve seen on screen before?

Seth Rogen: When we meet Will, he’s made a lot of mistakes, and he’s in the process of making more. He’s alienated a lot of people close to him, and he’s just make many poor choices. I think through Silvia he is able to reconnect with a time when maybe he liked himself more. He sees her as someone who’s very accepting of his ways and is looking for that in some ways. But I also think she’s someone who’s very honest with him and he needs that. They’re kind of having an inverse midlife crises: I am refusing to grow up and she maybe wishes she hadn’t grown up so much so fast. They’re each looking for some feeling of the other person’s life to some degree.

Rose Byrne: They had a really intense friendship and a really intense bond, and it fell out in a big way, because the friendship was that big. And now they’ve kind of reunited and it’s sort of, What is going to come about within this new chapter in this new context? It’s sweet. You never really get to see this examination of a male-female friendship and one that’s really important and that’s not at all about the bedroom.

(Photo by Apple TV+)

The comedy also comes from a generational theme that explores how Will and Sylvia struggle at having relationships with those half their age. How does that strengthen their bond?

Rogen: The show, I think, examines a lot of themes of growing up and entering your 40s, as we are, and also is about the kind of dynamic that people our age have with the younger generation. I work with a lot of people in their 20s. A lot of people I know have made very poor choices in their lives or are dating women in their 20s. You see the cultural disconnect, the generational divide, and, you know, the jokes that you would be comfortable making sometimes around your 40-year-old friends, maybe don’t fly as much around 25-year-old coworkers.

Seth, would you consider Will’s colorful fashion sense an attempt at narrowing that generational divide?

Rogen: I think Will is someone who has spent a lot of money on clothes, and he really wants to look cool and feel like he is a participant in fashion. He wants to kind of stand out. He’s single and, I think, peacocking that was the phrase that was used when I was was younger. He’s a guy who likes attention, to some degree. And a lot of those clothes are things I actually took from the show. They are like the cumulative effect of where he and where, maybe, Will and I divert.

(Photo by Apple TV+)

Through a quick Google search, conflicting scientific reports can be found on the possibility that women and men can successfully be platonic friends. So, what is your stance on the topic? Is it possible?

Byrne: I think it’s definitely generational.

Rogen: My dad had a lot of women friends and vice versa. I think it all depends. But it, for sure, has become less stigmatized over the years. We have platonic friendships. We are in the “You Can” category.

Byrne: But, once you have a family — I’m not sure I could be like, “Hey, Bobby [Cannavale, Byrne’s partner since 2012], I’m gonna go away for the weekend with Seth,to find out. You go over the hypotheticals and you start going, Well, to a point, can you [have a platonic friendship]? But I do think it is somewhat generational. And it’s really the people around you that are most interested [in whether there’s an attraction], rather than the people in the friendship.

Rogen: This is true.

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