Updated: Sep 1, 2021
Based on the New York Times column of the same name, the Amazon series,
Modern Love just may be my favorite series I've watched in a while.
8 episodes, 25 minutes each, solid narrative skills, and excellent casting with the backdrop of a city where nothing is impossible.
Amidst the crowd of ever-growing too loud, too surface-level rom coms, this series brings an unexpected view on love, not just romance.
This anthology follows a different type of love in each episode; whether it's a young woman having to cope with being a mother on her own, a gay couple wishing to adopt a child, or an elderly couple wishing to be together to fill an empty void in their old age, this is a series that covers a lot of ground in terms of what the title suggests. Without giving anything away, this is a season that only runs for about four hours in length, so if you have the time, it absolutely has a much bigger impact when watching it all at once. It's unexpected, it doesn't follow the path you expect and best of all, it's a master class in subtle, nuanced acting.
The first episode stars Cristin Milioti as Maggie, a single book critic whose charmingly stern doorman, Guzmin (played by Laurentiu Possa,) keeps a protective watch over her search for Mr. Right. This is a love story about found family and unexpected friendship, with an ending that will have you wiping away happy tears.
Amazon definitely front-loaded Modern Love with its three best episodes. My second favorite, this story follows the life of Lexi, a woman whose bipolar disorder makes dating, and sometimes even just existing, very challenging. The woman we first see in the grocery store is a real-life “Gilda,” decked out in sequins and throwing herself into the sheer pleasure of being alive, but by the time she gets home, Gilda has walked out on her, and she’s someone else.
It’s a riot of color and sound in one moment, a flat, gray landscape the next, a choice that shows both understanding and respect for the reality of her mental health journey. Unlike every other chapter in this anthology, there’s some real style and thought put into the filmmaking here, and also unlike every other chapter, it manages to approach something profound. This episode also stands out because it doesn’t blow past the rough, complicated stuff in favor of something fortune-cookie simple. And Hathaway is, unsurprisingly, excellent.
There are areas where the show stumbles, like “At the Hospital, an Interlude of Clarity” but is still refreshingly simple and still achieves moments of honesty and loveliness. And “When the Doorman is Your Main Main” could easily have gone the way of “So He Looked Like Dad,” but the sharp focus and a rich central performance save it from veering off into the land of the creepy.
Written by 12 people throughout the course of the eight episodes, there is clearly more than one voice. The directors don't exceed more than four, but the writing, although fantastic for the most part, felt a little jumbled in certain episodes.
Overall, the emotional threads that are precisely placed throughout the course of this show truly strike a chord when they need to. Modern Love has a lot of effort and care put into it by everyone involved and the final episode only accents that notion.
It wasn't too sugary or sweet, just real and they proved that short stories can be quick yet unmistakably whole.
This series makes you want to curl up on a cozy couch with a fluffy blanket and cup of coffee and a box of tissues on a cold afternoon and watch one episode after another. These were stories of life happening. It reminds you of what it feels like to love and to have lost and to have loved again and why that is, without a doubt, the most beautiful feeling ever.