On a recent episode of Moving the Needle, a podcast of which I am one of the co-hosts, we discussed the RomCom and an argument was made in support of and in opposition to the RomCom being dead. You can listen to that episode, with our special guest Dr. Sara Netzley–a journalism professor, podcaster and romance novelist.
So it seemed fortuitous that I should watch Amazon Prime’s Modern Love shortly after. A literal example of the stance that was repeatedly brought up during the podcast, that while the big cinema RomCom may not exist anymore in the same frequency as in the days of Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks, RomComs have now transitioned to streaming. Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, they all have their own versions of the genre in either a movie or series format.
The best one that I personally have watched so far is Modern Love. This series from Amazon Prime premiered on October 18, 2019 and features 8 episodes, at a run time of fewer than 30 minutes each. One of the easiest binges of any recently released streaming show that I can remember doing. You get a different story in each episode, of different scenarios of love, and I say story because they are based on the weekly column of the same name published by The New York Times. And yes, they are all set in New York City as well.
The series was adapted for television, written and directed by John Carney, the Irish director known for Begin Again and Sing Street. I have not seen either movie, but the work he did on this series is fantastic, refreshing, clever, and full of emotion. It’s no wonder that Amazon renewed the series for a second season just six days after it premiered. I am impatiently awaiting the next season and I am sure that I am not the only one. Then you have an amazing cast split amongst these eight episodes: Cristin Milioti, Catherine Keener, Dev Patel, Anne Hathaway, Tina Fey, John Slattery, Sofia Boutella, John Gallagher Jr., Julia Garner, Shea Whigham, Olivia Cooke, Andrew Scott, Jane Alexander.
Before I leave you with my final thoughts on the series as a whole, I wanted to give you a brief synopsis of each episode.
- When the Doorman Is Your Main Man
This episode follows the unlikely friendship between a young woman and her apartment building’s doorman, while she struggles with her dating life in the Big Apple.
- When Cupid is a Prying Journalist
An interview with a dating app creator leads a journalist to reminisce, as they trade their stories of lost love.
- Take Me as I Am, Whoever I Am
Here the story focuses on the serious topic of mental illness, and how difficult it can be to reveal something so personal to someone else.
- Rallying to Keep the Game Alive
A married couple in counseling, spiraling in their relationship, attempts to keep things going.
- At the Hospital, an Interlude of Clarity
A first date ends up taking an accidental turn, resulting in an ambulance ride to the hospital. Surprisingly, that doesn’t end the date.
- So He Looked Like Dad. It Was Just Dinner, Right?
A young woman finds interest in her much older boss.
- Hers Was a World of One
A gay couple looking to start a family, are forced out of their comfort zone when they agree to let the young woman, whose baby they plan to adopt, move in with them for the remaining weeks of her pregnancy.
- The Race Grows Sweeter Near Its Final Lap
This episode proves that it’s never too late to find love, and while “old love” may have it’s differences, it is just as fulfilling as “young love”.
The episodes are not directly related and they do not hold to a specific chronology, but that doesn’t mean you should watch them out of order. They are meant to be watched in the order set, and if you think about it, after you have watched them all, you will see why. The varying stages and situations of life, culminating in an obvious, but brilliant, and a fitting ending.
I really don’t have much more to say about this series, because I really don’t want to spoil a thing. I will give you my favorite episodes and leave you to decide on your own.
When Cupid is a Prying Journalist
Take Me as I Am, Whoever I Am
Hers Was a World of One
The Race Grows Sweeter Near Its Final Lap