'Modern Love' on Amazon Prime is a heart-shaped bouquet

No series, or movie for that matter, in recent times, has come this close to exploring the ties of friendship between people belonging to two different classes

October 31, 2019 02:01 pm | Updated 05:20 pm IST

Earlier this year, Netflix dropped the reality dating show Dating Around , where some people went on blind dates and discussed all things under the afternoon Sun and the midnight Moon. The series was received well by the Internet generation, and, now, Amazon Prime Video has spun its own web with a similar show that centres on the idea of different kinds of love – romantic, platonic, fatherly, friendly, etc.

Modern Love , which is based on a few of essays published by The New York Times , is ahead of its Netflix counterpart, as it mostly deals with couples who are already in love. While the initial mute-cute flirtations do seem to be easy on the eye, there’s a lot of silence that gets occupied by the weight of hesitation and uncertainty during such opening conversations. Here, on the other hand, the makers already have a winning material, and, they’re only playing with the form of the content to bring them to a larger – and perhaps different – audience.

In the third episode, for example, where Anne Hathaway stars as a young, bright woman grappling with the downswings of bipolar disorder, there’s a pop-musical and a tragedy – extras dance behind Lexi (Hathaway) when she buys fruits at a supermarket and the cameras stay put when she goes back home to wrap herself like a burrito. When she’s up and about, she’ll come across as the most charming person you’ll ever meet, and, when she’s in her bed, crying and not getting up to do the simplest of chores, you’ll not know what to say to her. She doesn’t want to let anybody know about her mental status either and that’s why her love life is an image of a road that goes nowhere.

This particular half-hour episode sticks pretty close to the original essay and the flourishes that are thrown around the narrative aid in lifting the prose higher on the small screen. Additionally, the Prime stories try to give most of the characters some sort of a happy ending. So, Lexi’s closing lines, which she writes on a dating site, go like this, “Something told me this had to stop. Not the illness – that’ll never stop – but not giving people a chance to make up their own mind about me. To giving them at least some cards in the game. Surely, there’s someone out there who will take me for who I am… one human being who accepts the two people in you. You can’t show only one part of yourself to someone.”

Lexi has found out that opening up to her friends and exes about her disorder is slowly helping her. You can look at this way: if the NYT’s essays are about some painful, or glorious, parts of the writers’ lives, then, this series is about the spiritual inter-connectedness of the New Yorkers and all the heebie-jeebies that accompany the constant need for attention and love.

However, all the eight episodes aren’t in the same happy, and trippy, boat. Some moments in the season finale appear as though they don’t belong to the soul of Modern Love , at all. In keeping up with the times of wokeness, there seems to have been a gentle nod given to an elderly couple ( Dating Around also did this). I’m not hinting that the makers needn’t have to focus on what it means to find romance in the twilight years; I’m just saying that they should have tried harder. The finale didn’t bite into my heart the way I’d have liked it to. Or, maybe, my expectations hit the sky after the first episode itself and I couldn’t digest the blandness in the end. I don’t know! But for those thirty-odd minutes, in which Guzmin (Laurentiu Possa), a doorman, looked after Maggie (Cristin Milioti), a writer, through thick and thin, through failed relationships and a pregnancy, I couldn’t stop smiling and crying. No series, or movie for that matter, in recent times, has come this close to exploring the ties of friendship between people belonging to two different classes.

The world would, probably, be a much nicer place if there were more Guzmins!

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