Amazon Prime Review: Modern Love

An anthology series based on the NY Times column of the same name which has been in publication every week for the past 15 years, this new streaming show has a lot of potential. I personally have never read the column, but unless the rest are just a ton of really stupid love stories (oh believe me, they exist…) they have quite the stockpile to pull from. The first season of Modern Love portrays just 8 of the hundreds that exist, and given a rough average of two noteworthy actors/actresses per episode (a fantastic cast too), they could quite honestly run out of suitable acting talent before they run out of source material…but for now, who cares?! Although it first hit Amazon Prime back in October, with streaming shows I feel like many times the new ones can take time to make their splash, and this show was a really refreshing find. I don’t have a lot to talk about the season other than I really enjoyed it, so rather than keeping my review to a measly two paragraphs, I would like to give a brief description and a little of what I liked or didn’t like about each episode. Read through them if you want, or just know that it’s a strong recommendation from both my wife and I. Oh, and of course these all take place in The Big Apple/The City of Dreams/The City So Nice, They Named It Twice: New York City.

Ep. 1) A young woman (Cristin Milioti, How I Met Your Mother) lives alone in an apartment building, away from her family, and has a special relationship with her doorman: He says ‘yay’ or ‘nay’ to the guys she brings back to her place, but really it’s almost always ‘nay’. This was probably my favorite episode. Cristin hits it out of the park and it is just a very sweet story about how a city can bring two people together in a way that is more familial than romantic.

Ep. 2) The young CEO (Dev Patel, Lion, Slumdog Millionaire) of a new dating app is interviewed by a journalist (Catherine Keener, Get Out, The 40-Year-Old Virgin) about his love life, and he tells her about the one that got away (Caitlin McGee, Bluff City Law). She tells him a story of her own of how she lost the love of her life (Andy Garcia, The Godfather: Part III, Ocean’s Eleven), and then found him many years later, sparking Mr. CEO to go find his girl. This had a nice twist of fate between the two couples and was very different from the first episode, which gave me a lot of hope and ultimately got me to invest in the rest of the series.

Ep. 3) The life and relationships of a woman with bi-polar disorder (Anne Hathaway, Ocean’s Eight, Les Misérables) are put on display. Anne really carries the episode and does a fantastic job of introducing a debilitating disorder and it’s effects on daily life. Her relationships struggle as much as she does until she finds strength to be up front with others and seek help to control her symptoms, which reminds viewers to not let something in life prevent you from living it. Asking for help is always a healthy choice.

Ep. 4) Two middle-age people (Tina Fey, SNL, 30 Rock; John Slattery, Mad Men, Spotlight) in a struggling marriage start marital counseling in an effort to save a relationship they feel is already mostly gone. Their counselor advises them to take up a new activity together, and they choose tennis. Throughout the highs and lows, at least they have a common past-time. An episode that shows the potential baggage and walls built up in a long-term marriage where each partner stops trying, this was a good reminder to married couples to find time for each other and to put the other first. A little slow, but still well-acted.

Ep. 5) A second date turns potentially disastrous when the guy (John Gallagher Jr., Hush) falls on a wine glass and is rushed to the hospital. But his date (Sofia Boutella, 2017’s The Mummy, Star Trek Beyond) decides to stick it out and use the time to get to know each other better, quirks and struggles and all. This was a return to the first episode feels for me, and a strong choice to throw in halfway. Love isn’t a cookie cutter and a relationship can grow out of the strangest circumstances. It’s also a good reminder that people aren’t perfect even if they seem that way on the outside.

Ep. 6) SKIP IT. Just kidding…but not really. A young woman (Julia Garner, Ozark) whose father died when she was just a girl has the hots for a significantly older co-worker (Shea Whigham, Homecoming, Joker). But is she seducing him or does she just want someone to be her dad? This episode got weird. I had to remind myself that the series is called “ModernLove and that love stories like this do really happen, but it was still my least favorite of the season.

Ep. 7) A gay couple have been trying to make their way through the adoption process, but they’ve found doors closed in their face time and time again because of their sexuality. Then along comes Karla (Olivia Cook, Ready Player One, Thoroughbreds), a pregnant homeless girl just passing through the city. It’s a really heart-warming episode about civilized minorities and outcasts making the time for each other and living life together for a while. Karla’s way of life puts a strain on Tobin (Andrew Scott, Sherlock, Fleabag) and Andy’s relationship as they put her up until the birth, and I think that dynamic alone makes this story feel the most nuanced of them all.

Ep. 8) The final episode already?! Moving through the stories so fast, the “finale” almost came out of nowhere. It’s a very touching story following two individuals (Jane Alexander, Kramer vs. Kramer; James Saito, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Always Be My Maybe) who meet in their old age during a fun run (and it has the BEST line in the series: “I’d be very disappointed if he died before I had the chance to ask him out”) and whose story together is mostly told in short flashbacks while she gives his eulogy (spoilers, sorry!). It’s really a tear-jerker, this one is, but also very inspirational to watch. What I did also really enjoy about this episode though is that the writers found a way to tie in every other love story, being that all the people live in the same city, which by the time you are immersed to that point in the episode you have completely forgotten about. It’s a bittersweet ending to a really great first season, and I am looking forward to the Season 2 notification in my queue. Oh, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that the music throughout by Gary Clark (Sing Street) is just about perfect. Alright, that’s it, thanks for reading and check out the show if you get a chance. Cheers!

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