Movie-makers appear to have fallen out of love with the subject of romance. Luckily, the Streaming Age of Television is here to fill the gap with Modern Love, a new anthology series bringing more than a hint of romantic cinematic flair to the small screen.
Adapted from personal essays published in the weekly New York Times column of the same name, each of the eight episodes tells an individual tale that involves love and/or romance in some way, but rarely in the manner you initially suspect.
All the stories take place in New York, which greatly informs Modern Love's cinematic feel, as does the calibre of the actors recruited for the series, a hefty list that includes Catherine Keener, Dev Patel, Tina Fey, Andrew Scott (Fleabag's Hot Priest) and Oscar winner Anne Hathaway, who's done plenty of time in romantic movies.
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"I love romantic stories and I don't see them in the cineplexes that much right now," Hathaway tells TimeOut. "I think with some of these more intimate stories, people have realised that they can still get a lot out of them by staying at home. And I'm grateful because I'm very happy that they didn't become extinct. I love watching a superhero fall in love as much as the next person, but this is a different way to tell a love story."
In Hathaway's episode, titled Take Me As I Am, she plays Lexi, "a woman who is learning how to find love while also learning how to accept that she has bipolar disorder".
"If we're honest with ourselves a lot of us have to learn that we're worth loving," says Hathaway. "I think that's a journey a lot of people go on whether or not you have bipolar disorder."As with every episode, the story was based on someone's personal experience, as detailed in the New York Times column.
"Lexi is based on a woman, Terri Cheney, who's written a book called Manic, and she's very open about her journey with bipolar disorder," offers Hathaway. "One of the things we keep talking about with this anthology with this, as a column, as a TV show, is it gives hope."
Hathaway says the personal nature of the stories helps to push them beyond familiar romantic conventions.
"I think we know the ins and outs of romantic films so well we're almost ahead of them. So, for me, it was really exciting because this was a way for me to tell a genre of story that I love telling that I don't really get to tell anymore in a way that felt really fresh."
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"We made a conscious decision to make it about more than a romantic love," says Daniel Jones, the editor of the Modern Love column who is a consulting producer on the series.
"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."
So although Modern Love has its fair share of happy endings, don't always count on it.
"To me these stories are successful when the person understands themselves better at the end," says Jones. "Not when they get the person they're going after."
Who: Actress Anne Hathaway
What: Anthology series Modern Love
When: Available on Amazon Prime from October 18.
Five top TV romances
Sam and Diane (Ted Danson and Shelley Long), Cheers
The foundation from which all subsequent "Will They Or Won't They" couples were derived. The show survived Long's departure, and although she came back at the end, she and Sam didn't end up together.
Ross and Rachel (David Schwimmer and Jennifer Aniston), Friends
A Sam and Diane for the '90s, producers consciously kept these two apart for most of the series to maintain the tension, then hastily thrust them back together in the final run. Debates over "the break" continue to this day.
Willow and Tara (Alyson Hannigan and Amber Benson), Buffy The Vampire Slayer
At a time when mainstream TV shows were deathly afraid of same-sex relationships, one of Buffy's most beloved characters realised she had feelings for another woman, and their relationship played out with matter-of-fact tenderness. Then Tara died.
Daenerys Targaryen and Jon Snow (Emilia Clarke and Kit Harington), Game of Thrones
Fans were hot for this aunt and nephew to hook up from Game of Thrones' early days, and got what they wanted in the final season. In the best fantasy tradition, the couple lived happily ever after. (Presumably, I haven't seen the finalé yet).
Eleanor and Chidi (Kristen Bell and William Jackson Harper), The Good Place
Although the constant resets keep this couple mostly apart, they nevertheless provide the high concept comedy, currently in its final season, with a tangibly romantic throughline. They should end up together. Fingers crossed.