For every heart that yearned a hearty, fulfilling, nostalgic watch, Modern Love, on Amazon Prime Video, came in as a welcome respite. The eight-episode anthology series, starring a gamut of stars including Anne Hathaway, Dev Patel, Tina Fey and Andrew Scott, reflected various forms of love – the young, the elderly, the romantic, the platonic, the familial and the familiar. Based on real-life stories from The New York Times' column of the same name, it brought back the heartwarming, giddy feeling of watching love stories unfold on screen.
Ahead of its second season, set to stream from Friday, here's a lookback at our favourite moments from each episode.
Episode: When The Doorman Is Your Main Man
Guzmin (Laurentiu Possa) starts off as the protagonist Maggie's (Cristin Milioti) overtly-protective doorman. Born in a different time during war, Guzmin is implied to have seen troubled times, now making him adept in understanding human beings. And so, whenever Maggie brings with her a date, she fears for Guzmin's approval – which he never gives. His opinions matter to her, that's a given. But he becomes a lot more for her once she becomes accidentally pregnant. In her difficult time, he becomes her patient, ever-reliable confidant, her guide, her family. So much so, that when she's in the hospital experiencing intense labour pains, she imagines Guzmin standing by the door, encouraging her to pull through, to breathe through. He gives her a sense of strength and belief that she never thought she was capable of feeling, ultimately becoming an anchor in her flight for independence.
Episode: When Cupid is a Prying Journalist
When Julie, a journalist (Catherine Keener), goes to profile the CEO of an emerging dating app, Joshua (Dev Patel), she sees a spark in his eyes that speaks to her. When she asks him if he's ever been in love, the otherwise busy, ever-hustling businessman is left dumbstruck, taken aback by a question he's never been asked before. He sits down, and narrates his story with Emma (Caitlin McGee), a woman he once loved, lost and somewhere still loves. He's amazed as he bares his heart in front of a practical stranger. She then narrates her own tale of unrequited love, requesting him to let her publish his story – something that more than the world, Emma needed to know.
One thing leads to another and a now-engaged Emma breaks down in her bathroom as she reads her own story in the words of a love she too could never forget. That one article gives her the courage to pursue what she perhaps always wished to, enabling her to take a stand for her once-buried feelings instead of moving on for the sake of it.
Episode: Take Me As I Am, Whoever I Am
Lexi (Anne Hathaway) wishes to have someone in her life who accepts her the way she is – accepts both her personalities. She suffers from bipolar disorder and experiences extreme highs and lows. A side of her is radiant, enigmatic, efficient and buzzing with energy, while the other side is dull, dark, almost crippling – making her unable to even stand at times and thus, confined to her bed till she can smell the sunshine again. Her mental illness, and her refusal to talk about it, makes it difficult for her to maintain relationships as well as jobs. But here's the catch – how can she expect someone else to accept her when she herself doesn't?
In a hard-hitting scene, when Lexi has to leave her job, shortly after a date goes horribly wrong with a man she genuinely liked, her boss takes her out for coffee. There, for the first time ever, she confides in her, accepting her disorder – accepting herself. When her boss asks her how she feels now that she's said it out loud, she remarks, 'Like an elephant has taken one of its feet off my chest.' Acceptance is the first step in the journey of mental health, and in the journey of self-love too. Amirite, Lexi?
Episode: Rallying To Keep The Game Alive
The game in question is the marriage between Sarah (Tina Fey) and Dennis (John Slattery). They go to couples' therapy every week, followed by a movie, in order to work on their slowly decaying relationship for the sake of their two children. The problem is, they either don't talk at all, or if they do, they don't listen. When their therapist then suggests them to pursue one hobby that they share together, they end up going to play tennis in a public court, making it a daily routine. Almost symbolic of their relationship, their game too is full of bickering, with none of them on the same page – Sarah wants the shots to be played in a particular way, while Dennis wants to play to only win.
As time goes on and they slowly start to re-learn the ways of communication, their tennis too evolves alongside. In the final scene, they are both comfortable with each other, appreciating the other's shots, in what looks like a private tennis court. There is no hustle-bustle of a crowd anymore, it's just the two of them now. Their shots are more in harmony, and so are their demeanors – synonymous with the better, happier relationship they now share. No one is playing to win anymore, they just want to enjoy – the game, and each other's company.
Episode: At the Hospital, An Interlude Of Clarity
What happens between Rob (John Gallagher) and Yasmine (Sofia Boutella), isn't perhaps a meant-to-be scenario, but is crucial nonetheless. In what is only their second date, an awkward Rob brings Yasmine, a social media influencer, to his new house. As luck would have it, there's an accident, and Rob finds himself hooked to various wires in a hospital while Yasmine stands by his side, her white dress now soaked with his blood.
Now drugged, a chatty Rob, with a sling attached to his arm, asks her to take him to the cafeteria on a wheelchair. She soon realizes that he'd done that only to get her to eat, because he was still on liquids. His openness and vulnerability makes the otherwise steady Yasmine talk about herself too, as she opens up about her father's death. As she starts crying, Rob insists that he will get himself a glass of water, intending to give her some space. She keeps looking as the poor guy wheels himself to the water purifier, comically struggling to pour himself a glass of water. Again, that seems to be intentional, as those few minutes not only give her the time to compose herself, but also bring back a smile to her face.
Episode: So He Looked Like Dad. It Was Just Dinner, Right?
What happens when a young, 21-year-old, deprived of a father's love starts searching and yearning for it in the people she comes across? On the face of it, it may seem like an innocent wish, but off it, is it too much to expect from people who practically don't know you? Maddy (Julia Garner) develops a platonic, fatherly love towards her senior, Peter (Shea Whigham) or 'the genius' as she calls him. To her, he feels like a father – with turtleneck sweaters, grey hair and golf socks. He even 'smells' like a father. To him, though, she's a beautiful young woman who is 'leading him on,' who is ultimately pursuing a relationship with him. Their thoughts, since the beginning are miles apart, and it's during a scene where he buys her a lovely, warm red coat that their emotions collide and a very uncomfortable confrontation takes place. She thinks he bought the coat out of concern, and he does, but the concern is more romantic than what Maddy is looking for. This is the moment where both of them are embarrassed – Maddy, for having thought that someone would be alright to do something selfless for a stranger, and Peter, for having almost-kissed someone who was far from interested in him. She throws away the red coat, as an awkward silence beckons, with both of them realizing just how wrong, almost bitter a situation they found themselves to be in.
Episode: Hers Was A World Of One
Karla (Olivia Cooke) had been a rebel, wanting to do things her own way. She's homeless, but unafraid. She knows how to live for herself, how to make the most out of what she has. However, she doesn't want her unborn child to face a childhood like that – on the streets, with her. More so, she doesn't even know if she will be as much as the child would want her to be. And so, when she meets Tobin (Andrew Scott) and Andy (Brandon Kyle Goodman), she knows she wants her child to be adopted and raised by them. At first glance, they make a healthy, loving couple. And yet, by the time her third trimester arrives, she's marred by a discomforting thought – what if they don't last? She wanted her child to have a stable family, and so, she decides to see, and judge, them for herself. When she does reach their house, all her doubts seem to fade away as they endlessly gush about the child's room they were building with neutral colours, grinning about the baby quiz Andy had made. In that moment, the camera pans at her face, zooming in, and pauses at her now-satisfied, at peace, exterior. She now knows that she had made the right decision; that this was exactly the kind of family she had wanted for her child.
Episode: The Race Grows Sweeter Near Its Final Lap
The final episode of the series had many moments, right from Margot's (Jane Alexander) poignant eulogy for Kenji (James Saito), or the way she jogs across the streets of New York, wanting to feel him by her side again. And yet, one moment is specifically special. In what is essentially a love story between an elderly couple, and how they find a love that floors and swoons them as much as any young love would, there's a tiny moment where Ken enters their kitchen, in a house they had recently shifted in together. Margot is concentratedly washing the dishes when Ken puts a small box beside the sink. She looks at it, removes her gloves, opens the box, and looks at him, wide-eyed. Ken just grins, almost as if he already knows her answer. It's that simple for them. Since the moment they met, it had been that straightforward for them. Both of them carried a baggage of the past, but together, they were as new as it could get. Old love was more 'realistic,' in Margot's words, and yet, it gave them some of the most magical days of their lives.
Modern Love: Season 2, starring Kit Harington, Lucy Boynton, Anna Paquin, Tobias Menzies and Sophie Okonedo, among others, is inspired by real-life stories and will continue to delve into the world of love in its different forms – telling tales of relationships, connections, betrayals and revelations.
Recommendation in collaboration with Amazon Prime Video