The popular New York Times weekly column "Modern Love" has featured stories about love and redemption for the past 15 years. Eight of the stories, penned by both first-time writers and established authors, have been turned into a half-hour TV series that debuts Friday, Oct. 18, on Amazon Prime Video.
Daniel Jones, editor of the column, explains the decision was made at the beginning that the stories could not just be two people falling in love but had to cover a wide gambit of looks at romance and relationships.
"We even had titles to the column that would've limited it to romantic love. Part of choosing 'Modern Love' was to have it be contemporary but broad," Jones says. "Love is about vulnerability. Human relationships are the most important things in our lives and one thing that people sort of hold on to, but they're complicated.
"I'm most interested in the sort of offbeat love story. I mean, to me these stories are successful when the person understands themselves better at the end, not when they get the person they're going after. When they understand something deep about themselves."
The all-star cast for the anthology series includes Anne Hathaway, Jane Alexander, Sofia Boutella, Gary Carr, Tina Fey, Andy Garcia, Cristin Milioti and John Slattery. The first episode, "When the Doorman Is Your Main Man," stars Milioti and Laurentiu Possa. It's based on the column about a woman who gets pregnant unexpectedly and the only person who's there for her is her building's doorman. The relationship is full of love and goes beyond normal boundaries.
What Milioti liked best about the column and script was it is not a traditional love story.
"The relationship between her and the doorman is so beautifully nuanced. They both get something from each other that lifts their spirits, that like helps them through their lives. I think, if you ask either character they wouldn't quite be able to label or name it but they make these huge impacts on each other," Milioti says. "So much of it is unspoken, too, which I think makes it so beautiful. It's just sort of an energy between the two of them.
"This like father-daughter-friend type energy. And it's very uplifting and heartbreaking because you don't know sometimes how to explain what someone does to you or the impact they have on you, but it is love."
Milioti read the original column and loved it, but she opted not to seek out the original author. She decided to work with what the information provided through the writing to create the backstory for the character she needed to play the part. Milioti has no idea if her backstory is similar to the real story, but by creating her own version it gave her more freedom to play the role.
Hathaway stars in "Take Me as I Am, Whoever I Am" with Carr. The episode was handled carefully because it follows a woman who is learning how to find love while also learning how to accept that she has bipolar disorder. Jones wanted to make sure the filmed version remained true to the original essay without crossing any lines. Hathaway spoke in great length with the woman in the essay. That gave her a clear understanding of details like the cadence of her voice or what happens when she's having a manic episode.
The key to this look at love and relationships for Hathaway was while the essay looks at how one person deals with their mental illness, the theme has a much broader reach. She's certain that when take an honest look at themselves, they will realize everyone is worth being loved.
"I think that's a journey a lot of people go on whether or not you have bipolar disorder. I imagine having bipolar disorder makes it that much more difficult to imagine that someone wants to take you on. And it's this huge block in Lexi's life, and she talks about that. She talks about just needing one person, just one person to accept all of her," Hathaway says. "That's really what we all, I think, want. And she gets it.
"She doesn't get it from the person that, I think, any of us expect her to get it from in the beginning of the episode. But that one person giving her the space, being patient, being compassionate and being a true loving person in her life changes everything for her. It gives her hope and gives her a future."
Available starting Friday on Amazon Prime Video
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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