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Netflix books Judd Apatow original show, another volley at HBO

Netflix makes no secret of its goal to beat the cable king, and it lines up a new show from Apatow, whose TV work right now consists of the premium network's "Girls."

Judd Apatow with the cast of "Girls," from HBO -- the company Netflix holds as both an idol and a target. Getty Images

Producer Judd Apatow's small-screen resume is expanding from HBO to include the company that idolizes and targets the premium cable network like none other: Netflix.

Tuesday, Netflix said it licensed two seasons of an original television series from Apatow, known in television for HBO hit "Girls" and the bygone "Freaks and Geeks," and in film for "Superbad" and "The 40-Year-Old Virgin." The show, called "Love" and starring Gillian Jacobs of "Community," will debut in 2016 in all territories Netflix operates with a 10-episode first season, followed up by a 12-episode second season the following year. Netflix also made a two-season commitment to its flagship "House of Cards" original series.

Netflix has long fixated a target on HBO's back in its transition from a deliverer of DVDs by mail into an Internet television network. The company's push this week into Europe is partly motivated by its race to become HBO before HBO can become Netflix, as it moves into big television markets where HBO and Showtime have yet to make a big splash. Netflix Chief Executive Reed Hastings often holds HBO up as a yardstick, comparing his company's growth in subscribers and revenue to the cable network, and original content like "House of Cards" and the coming "Love" are key to the future Netflix envisions for itself as an online television provider to surpass the network.

The half-hour comedy series is written by Apatow, Paul Rust-- who will also star -- and Lesley Arfin of "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" and "Girls." "Love" follows Rust's Gus and Jacobs' Mickey "as they navigate the exhilarations and humiliations of intimacy, commitment, and other things they were hoping to avoid," Netflix said in a release.

"Netflix has been supportive in ways I couldn't create in my wildest fever dreams," Apatow said.