Modern Love is a kitschy anthology about love in the time of Instagrammable avocado toasts, but it does have its moments. Some episodes are sentimental to the point of feeling emotionally manipulative, but there are others that are quite poignant.
Director: John Carney
Writer: John Carney
Cast: Anne Hathaway, Tina Fey, Andy Garcia, Dev Patel
Streaming on: Amazon Prime
It’s got half of Hollywood
The show is based on The New York Times column of the same name. The popular column, which began in 2004, is a series of essays by readers. Each 25-minute episode tells a self-contained story. The episodes manage the challenge of establishing characters, setting up conflicts and arriving at resolutions with varying degrees of success. As exciting as the premise of contemporary relationships is, viewers are likely to be enticed by the star cast. Besides the big names mentioned above, Modern Love features Andrew Scott, Andy Garcia, James Saito, John Slattery, Jane Alexander and Catherine Keener among many others.
The stories are either hit or miss
The first episode of the series, the story of a doorman’s paternal love for a woman (Christina Milioti) who lives in the building where he works in New York, is an interesting slice-of-life look into the lives of single women and the doormen who look out for them. It has a genuinely touching ending. Not all the instalments are as engaging. Episode two presents two stories about two couples reuniting with long-lost lovers. It’s the true story of Justin McLeod, founder of dating app Hinge, and a journalist, who interviewed him on the subject of love. This episode is so sweet it’s a danger to diabetics.
The show is sometimes preachy, doling out bite-sized lessons on the nature of love wrapped in an Instagram-worthy version of New York. The final episode about elderly runners who fall in love has a didactic tone, as if it’s talking at the audience from a soapbox and demanding their tears.
Despite the saccharine stories, there are a few episodes with interesting ideas. In one particular episode, Anne Hathaway plays a woman with bipolar disorder trying to find love in New York. The musical-esque sequences serve as a unique and effective medium to convey the disparity between her character’s highs and lows. These sequences combined with Hathaway’s performance make the episode stand head and shoulders above the rest.
Whoever cast Tina Fey and John Slattery as a married couple deserves an award because while the story of the episode isn’t the least bit compelling in and of itself, it’s worth watching simply for their character interactions. They play a couple struggling to keep their marriage together. Their on-screen arguments and chemistry keep they episode from being a mundane story of marital strife.
The makers skipped truly worthy stories for feel-good ones
The appeal of The New York Times column lies in its authenticity. It presents readers with actual experiences of love from real people. The essays submitted by readers are not always happy and comfortable. In fact they’re often heart-breaking. On the other hand this series, in an attempt to make viewers cry happy tears, misses the opportunity to present them with hard-hitting realism.