A TV show-style spinoff of The New York Times column “Modern Love,” the Amazon Prime anthology of the same name features a heartwarming — and at times heartbreaking — selection of love stories.
Each of the eight episodes in the first season is based on a personal essay submitted to The New York Times’ “Modern Love” column. Though some elements of the series are fictionalized or otherwise very unlikely, the episodes present love honestly and openly. Even if viewers cannot relate to specific events in the show, they can certainly relate to the feelings of the characters.
“Modern Love” portrays a wide range of feelings that accompany love, from the lows of fear, sadness and pain to all the highs of joy, excitement and redemption. The show understands that some stories will end happily and some stories won’t and that that’s ok too. Even when a storyline ends disappointingly, the show offers the hope that something new and better is just around the corner: As in real life, characters must let go of the old and the stale to welcome new and beneficial changes into their lives.
Though the show overall has a hopeful feeling, it also deals with the intersection of love and tougher topics. In the episode “Take Me as I Am, Whoever I Am,” the show deals with bipolar disorder and how this affects one woman’s love life. Understandably, Lexi (Anne Hathaway) doesn’t tell a new man that she’s seeing that she has bipolar disorder, and so he doesn’t understand why she seems so happy sometimes and so disinterested and down at other times. When he walks away and Lexi opens up to a female coworker about her issues, Lexi realizes both that she needs to get her condition under control and that she needs to be more honest with people in her life.
This episode’s focus on honesty and openness in relationships is indicative of the series’ overall message as well. While “Modern Love” does not try to influence viewers to conduct their relationships in a certain way, the stories and themes that it focuses on do demonstrate that relationships require effort and time and that individuals in those relationships must practice respect, trust and patience among other virtues.
Stylistically, each episode is somewhat different, and this diversity keeps “Modern Love” interesting. The season’s first episode is a traditional story of one character’s life over time, whereas the second episode interweaves two narratives to juxtapose what might have been in one character’s life with what could be in another character’s. The third episode sees Anne Hathaway narrating her character’s story through voiceover, and this character’s high periods are depicted in the cheerful style of a musical.
Uniting these disparate stories is the setting of present-day New York City. When viewers see completely different stories taking place each episode, it’s nice to know that these narratives occur in different parts of the same (enormous) city. This setting also perhaps accounts for some of the diversity that is seen in characters and stories. Narratives come from men and women, from old and young and from people of various racial backgrounds and sexual identities. As the title states, the show chronicles “modern” love, so it’s only fair that stories come from a wide range of backgrounds. This variety makes the show interesting and allows it to explore a lot of places where modern love exists.
Additionally — and refreshingly — “Modern Love” doesn’t focus solely on romantic love. The show also depicts situations of love from other important people in characters’ lives that viewers might not have thought about. For example, in “When the Doorman Is Your Main Man,” doorman Guzmin takes care of his tenant Maggie when she becomes unexpectedly pregnant, and their bond is highlighted over Maggie’s disappointing romantic relationships. This focus goes to show that modern love exists wherever one cares for another, not only in situations of romance.
The storytelling of “Modern Love” and its variety of stories make it a compelling and meaningful anthology. Though viewers might not recognize themselves in every narrative, the feelings inspired by this collection will bring to mind their own love story.
Stephanie Santillo is a senior staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.