October 25, 2019

‘Modern Love’ on Amazon brings love stories to life

What’s the old saying? The movie isn’t as good as the book? Or, the television show isn’t as good as the movie?

Not for the New York Times. On Friday, Oct. 18, Amazon debuted its new feature show, “Modern Love.” Sound familiar? Maybe because it’s been adapted from the original newspaper column, and the podcast.

Featuring a slew of different celebrities, the first season’s eight episodes of love stories were released all at the same time, allowing viewers to binge the show in one day (which is what I did). From Anne Hathaway to Andy Garcia to Tina Fey, acclaimed actors bring the original narrations of the columns and podcasts to life, telling stories that range from loving an unattainable person to falling in love at the hospital.

The column and the podcast have always been marketed for people seeking stories about love, loss, and redemption. Like the podcast, the television show does just that, and in a way that is much different than reading the pieces in the paper or online or listening to them on your evening walk. The televised episodes are like shortened versions of “When Harry Met Sally” or “One Day,” for the busy person with an hour to spare.

First published in 2004 with its article titled, “Just Friends? Let Me Read Between the Lines,” by Steve Friedman, the newspaper column took off. Since then, it’s published over 750 columns by acclaimed writers, journalists, actors, businessmen and women.

Available for streaming with Amazon Prime, viewers (those who are “allowed” to watch something TV-MA), will get to watch this eight-part anthology dance across the television or computer screen in crisp 4K High Definition. Between a woman and her husband, “Rallying to Keep the Game Alive”  to save their marriage, a dating app developer and his unfinished business with his girlfriend, or young woman who falls pregnant unexpectedly and has a certain unwavering support from her doorman, the show’s individual stories will fill up your love tank, and your tear ducts.

“Modern Love” is another accomplishment Amazon has to add to its list of shows for its streaming website (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,”  “Goliath,” “Jack Ryan”). With a 77% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the show has viewers everywhere crying, laughing, and possibly even questioning their own love lives.

Though an original Times column, the show isn’t for someone who is looking for a deep and complicated storyline, or something that requires complex and heavy brainwork. Rather, the show is for the hopeless romantics, the lovers of love, or the longtime followers of the column.

At around 30 minutes per episode, the show does fly by quickly, and can keep you occupied for a few nights. But it’s not going to require the long-term commitment of  “Breaking Bad” or “Game of Thrones.” It’s a feel-good, sometimes happy, sometimes sad, break from reality.

Additionally, this could be considered a win for the journalism community. Readership can sometimes be hard to garner, especially from a younger demographic who get their news from places like Twitter or Snapchat. After watching the show, viewers may be compelled to find the original published articles, or listen to the podcasts on Spotify or Apple Podcasts.

In conjunction with Hulu and FX, the Times has another TV show titled “The Weekly,” which dives into a news story each week in order to produce authoritative documentaries on pressing issues right now.

Both of these shows are morphing journalism from something that we read, into something that we watch. Obviously, we have things like “Dateline,” “20/20,” or even “Fox and Friends.” But to expand and evolve journalism into something that can be consumed through a visually enticing, easy to watch, compelling TV show, is something that traditional media should note. To see personal stories written by real people being played out by famed actors is very bittersweet.

To me, as an avid reader of the column and a lover of the podcast, this television show was like watching a baby I know, but haven’t raised, walk for the first time. My mom doesn’t read the column or listen to the podcast, but we got to watch it together. To watch something I love come to life, was more special than I ever expected it to be.

Peyton Gigante, a staff writer on the Oxford Observer, is a journalism/creative writing double major at Miami University.