Based on the New York Times’s 15-year-old ongoing column of the same name, Modern Love is an anthology of real-life love stories and essays that have been written by the newspaper readers and correspondents over the years. The series handpicks some of the best (and perhaps most adaptable) essays to be depicted on screen. While the theme is broadly love, each of the eight episodes deals with a different kind of love—unrequited, self-love, same sex to parental love. What binds them together is the thread of urban life and complex issues that might not have been so common in another lifetime.
The show tugs at your heartstrings with prominent faces such as Tina Fey, John Slattery and Anne Hathaway delivering their best. The extremely palatable 35-minute pieces are tailor-made for that perfect mushy weekend. Each of the episodes retains the name of the original essay that it has been adapted from. However, some of the details of the stories have been exaggerated or modified for dramatic purposes. Writing doesn’t always translate well onscreen and Modern Love is a perfect example of that. If one goes back to the essay, the stories seem much more poignant and mesmerising compared to their onscreen versions, such as At The Hospital, an Interlude of Clarity. John Gallagher Jr brings in that same nervousness and wafty hair (similar to his character Jim Harper from The Newsroom) as an introvert on a second date with a social media starlet. But the chaos and random sequence of events ultimately do not add up, making one ask: what really happened? Despite the misses, some of the stories will blow you away. When Cupid is a Prying Journalist, featuring Dev Patel, shows us—no matter what the medium is—love transcends all boundaries. By the end of the episode you will want to delete Tinder and believe that there’s no greater power in the world than love.
While the stories are all worth a watch despite their flaws, one major setback is the lack of diversity in the lead actors. Understandably, most of the episodes have a New York backdrop with affluent caucasians cast in plots of love and loss. But if there is an element of fiction that has indeed been brought in, how about lending it to the casting of characters that are depicted onscreen? Perhaps Season 2, which is already on the cards, will fix the problem of representation.
Platform: Amazon Prime Video
Writer and Director: John Carney
Cast: Dev Patel, John Slattery, Anne Hathaway, Tina Fey, Andrew Scott