You know those big romantic films that come out every now and then with every celebrity under the sun? The ones that are usually a bigger story held together by a bunch of tiny little love stories? These are usually the films that end up not doing so well, and aren’t good to begin with anyway. Well Modern Love is like that—though in television format, and done surprisingly adequately.
Modern Love is a new original show from Amazon Studio. Based on the New York Times column of the same name, Modern Love presents a new story of love and romance with each episode. From the mind of John Carney (“Once” and “Sing Street”), the anthology show touts a massive cast. Including names such as Anne Hathaway (“Princess Diaries” and “Interstellar”) , Dev Patel (“Slumdog Millionaire” and “Lion”), and John Slattery (“Mad Men” and “Avengers: Endgame”).
Your mileage when it comes to enjoyment will vary greatly. It’s all about what you are expecting going in. It’s sappy, corny, and it hits every cliche consistently. For many though, that may just be what they want out of the show—something sappy and romantic to just throw on the TV after a long day. This show is the perfect option for that. For others, it could be simply unwatchable. Or at the very least lead to a long string of sighs as you bury your face deep into your hand. For me though, it was a mixed bag of both.
This makes sense though, since anthology series/collections tend to be a mixed bag when it comes to quality. You’d be hard pressed to find a large quantity of them that are good through and through. After watching this first season, I can easily say that this is no exception. There are some good installments, but then there are the noticeably weak ones. I don’t think I would call out any of them for being overtly bad—just mediocre duds. The intense focus on the romantic angles of everything can drag down many of the stories. Yes, I know that intense focus is the whole idea of the show. But when it gets in the way of simple plot and character logic, it can become a problem.
My favorite installments tended to be the episodes featuring the strongest performances. Not that the writing also wasn’t improved as well in those cases, but the quality of the performances became a consistent and reliable measurement of episodes working or not working. Oddly enough I never found any of the acting to be bad—it’s just there were those performances that truly clicked with the content being delivered to me. The best example of this was Anne Hathaway’s episode, which was easily the strongest of the bunch. Sure it had some hammy-ness to it, but Hathaway nailed it. The writing was great, there were really neat theatrical elements added, and the episode hit on an issue that doesn’t find it’s way into these kinds of stories very often.
Modern Love certainly has an audience, but it won’t be for everyone. There’s some good stuff in there, even if there’s plenty of mediocre stuff alongside it. If you are looking for a show that explores the power of love and romance in various—and sometimes unique—ways, then this is certainly the show for you. If you have no specific interest in the show, then I wouldn’t recommend going out of your way to watch it. Though if you happen to have the free time and space on your schedule, it wouldn’t be the worst show to give a shot.
Be be sure to stream Modern Love only on Amazon Prime when it airs on October 18th.