Get your wine and tissues ready, because Amazon has an upcoming anthology dramedy called Modern Love that is about to become your new favorite cathartic, feel-good series.
Based on a weekly column published by The New York Times, this half-hour series aims to "explore love in its multitude of forms — including sexual, romantic, familial, platonic and self love." It boasts a who's-who cast of A-list actors that includes Tina Fey, Andy Garcia, Anne Hathaway, Catherine Keener, Cristin Milioti, Dev Patel, John Slattery, and many more, plus the man behind the writing and directing is John Carney, who is also the writer/director of such romantic movies as the Oscar-winning Once, the underrated Sing Street, and the Keira Knightley-Mark Ruffalo gem Begin Again — so the show boasts a stellar pedigree. But what, exactly, is Modern Love about?
Well, to quote an infamous way to describe a relationship, it's complicated.
We've screened three episodes, and so far they have all been very different, both in story and in tone. The premise is that each episode is based on one column from the New York Times column of the same name. The column is edited by Daniel Jones, who is a consulting producer on the show. The episodes all have different casts, writers, and directors, but the through line is that they have all been excellent in terms of quality — the stories, the acting, the music, and the cinematography are all top-notch.
Milioti's episode is about finding a familial relationship with someone who isn't your family, Keener and Patel's episode is about an older person advising a younger one not to let his true love pass him by because of her own experience in that regard, and Hathaway's episode is about mental illness — and it is tremendous. Hathaway is exceptional as a young woman battling bipolar disorder and how that affects her relationships; not just her romantic ones, but her work relationships, her friendships, her family, etc.
Basically, as the show description says, Modern Love examines all kinds of love, and it does so in a beautiful way. You'll definitely want to have the tissues handy, but not because it's so sad. In fact, most of the tears shed during the first three episodes were shed in a poignant or happy way. But either way, be prepared for how emotional the show is and how varied it is from episode to episode.
"We made a conscious decision to make it about more than romantic love," consulting producer Jones told the 2019 TCA Summer press tour audience. "We even had titles for the column that would have limited it to romantic love and to use Modern Love was to make it contemporary and broad. Love is about . . . human relationships, it's about the most important things in our lives, the one thing that people hold on to. But they're complicated."
Milioti added, "In my episode, the relationship between her and the doorman, it is so beautifully nuanced . . . and so much of it is unspoken too, which makes it so beautiful, like it's just sort of an energy between the two of them, this father-daughter-friend-type energy. It's very uplifting and heartbreaking because you don't know sometimes how to explain what someone does to you or the impact they have on you, but it is love . . . I think sometimes in film and television there's a very strict boy-meets-girl and this show really sort of blows the doors off that, which is great."
It's also not something they've exhausted in the one season that drops Oct. 18 on Amazon. Jones said that with the New York Times column, they have "about 750 story possibilities from over the years," so if the show is successful, it could run for many seasons.