FILM & TELEVISION
A declaration of love in all its forms
by Ellie Perry
6th November 2019
Warning, this is one for the sentimental. For the people who love Nora Ephron, Love Actually and the Metro’s ‘Rush Hour Crush’ column. Modern Love is a new Amazon Prime series comprised of eight, thirty-minute episodes based on short stories from the New York Times. The project began 15 years ago as a column, four years ago it became a podcast, and now it is a tv show. Each tale is written and directed by different people, creating short stand-alone stories that explore the lives and loves of people across the city. It boasts an all-star cast, delivering Andrew Scott (better known as the hot priest from Fleabag), Anne Hathaway, Andy Garcia, Dev Patel, and yet another cameo from Ed Sheeran in the rom-com genre (why?) Watching these stars interact on screen is definitely part of the series’ charm. Tina Fey and John Slattery (Mad Men) playing tennis, in the rain, in New York, is always going to be worth a watch.
The overarching theme of the show, as you can probably tell from the title, is love. Love in all of its different forms: parental, friendship, romantic, old and young. A range of sensitive issues are touched upon, from single motherhood to dealing with mental health disorders. You may be wondering, how do you capture all of this in a thirty-minute format? Well, this of course depends on short cuts and elements of simplification. We are left with a surface level insight into the characters and their lives, there is no time for backstory or supporting cast. These stories are very much rooted in the now and the love their characters are pursuing.
As a result, the show has suffered criticism for being cheesy and saccharine. I have to warn you, at times it is cheesy, it really, really is. Rebecca Nicholson from the Guardian captured this essence of the show well: ‘it’s sweet, but over eight episodes it becomes sickly.’ Indeed, the stories follow a cliched pattern of ending with a moral message, often served up in a fairy light filled coffee shop in rainy New York. However, some people like sugar in their tea and every now and then it is okay to enjoy a happy ending!
The season culminates in a moving finale: ‘The Race Grows Sweeter Near Its Final Lap.’ The essence of the episode, and the show as a whole, is summarised by the central characters declaration ‘old love is no different from young love.’ As the protagonist runs through the city, we see the single threads of each story interconnect and intertwine, the characters drive past each other, bump into each other in coffee shops and get caught in the same storm. So, if you like a happy ending, even a little bit, give the show a try. Or if like me you were left wanting more good news – there is a book and rumours of a second season.
Watch Modern Love on Amazon Prime
Anne Hathaway and Gary Carr in Amazon Prime's Modern Love (2019)
Ellie is the literary editor for this year’s Courtauldian team. It is her job to find creative people willing to contribute to the magazine in interesting and diverse ways whether that be through prose, poetry or drama. Her main drive is to encourage fiction-based writing which will provide a fun and imaginative counterpoint alongside the reviews and columns of our regular writers. In an academic sphere of essays and presentations she believes it is important to absorb as much creative content as is possible in your spare time. The Courtauldian is a great place for this short form-fiction to thrive. As a huge book lover, she cannot wait to read all of the interesting types of writing the Courtauld's student body has to offer. No story is too small so please get writing!