WHAT TO WATCH

Modern Love

Anne Hathaway, Dev Patel, and others bring tales of real romance to life.

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As the editor of the Modern Love column in The New York Times, Daniel Jones has come across some pretty fantastic true stories of true love.

There was the essay on marital therapy through exotic-animal training (“What Shamu Taught Me About a Happy Marriage”) and the one about the woman who realized her Uber driver was the ex-husband of her ex-husband’s wife (“When Your Uber Driver Brings a Time Machine”). Although Modern Love isn’t an advice column, readers often ask Jones whether they should break up with someone. (“It’s not my expertise,” he demurs.)

There are many ways to enjoy the vast archive. In the New York Times app, read every column ever published, going back to the first from 2004. You can listen to the weekly column, read by actors such as Kate Winslet and Jake Gyllenhaal, in your favorite podcast app. And starting October 18, you can stream it: Amazon Prime Video is debuting a series in which each episode features a different story and cast, including Tina Fey, Anne Hathaway, and Dev Patel.

Here, Jones, who served as a consulting producer on the show, waxes romantic on the most memorable columns to watch, read, and listen to.

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“Take Me as I Am, Whoever I Am”

Jones’ take: “A woman who’s bipolar, played by Anne Hathaway, has these cycles where she gets really up and comes onto men and gets herself dates. But then she crashes before the date starts, so it’s like going out with her evil twin. [Writer and director] John Carney took advantage of the Technicolor world you inhabit when you’re having a manic episode and the fact that you feel like the star of your own sitcom. The broader resonance of the story is that we all have these flaws that we keep hidden when we first meet someone. When do you reveal them so you’re not going to scare the person off?”
Enjoy it as: A Prime Video episode, an essay, and a podcast (read by Rebecca Hall)

“Rallying to Keep the Game Alive”

Jones’ take: “This one always comes to mind when someone asks, ‘What’s a perfect Modern Love?’ The Amazon version is Tina Fey and John Slattery as this fighting married couple who play tennis. It has this metaphor about marriage where you can either compete to your relationship’s detriment, or you cooperate and try to extend the game. Usually metaphors are cringeworthy, but that one was organic and instructive.”
Enjoy it as: A Prime Video episode, an essay, and a podcast (read by Connie Nielsen)

“When Cupid Is a Prying Journalist”

Jones’ take: “There’s a sort of Sliding Doors situation in the early ’90s where two love stories overlap. Catherine Keener is a journalist interviewing Dev Patel’s character, the CEO of a dating app who broke up with his girlfriend but still feels this intense connection to her. Years before, Catherine Keener had married another man instead of her true love, and sees Dev Patel as this way to almost fix her mistake. She essentially says, you have to tell her how you feel. So he does, and he and the woman end up getting married. It’s real but romantic.”
Enjoy it as: An essay and a Prime Video episode

“To Fall in Love with Anyone, Do This”

Jones’ take: “This essay [about the 36 questions psychologist Arthur Aron used to make two strangers fall in love] was a gimmick, but because the gimmick had integrity, it took off. There was no way you could get through those questions without feeling somewhat closer to the person you’re talking to. We received lots of emails from people who did it and got married as a result.”
Enjoy it as: An essay and a podcast (read by Gillian Jacobs)

“You May Want to Marry My Husband”

Jones’ take: “I almost never get choked up reading the column, but Amy Krouse Rosenthal was really in rough shape with terminal cancer when this story came in. I was traveling and trying to get this published on an accelerated timeline. I’d passed the draft along to [deputy styles editor] Anya Strzemien without any fanfare or warning, and she came around to my desk with tears going down her cheeks. I was like, oh, this might have an impact.”
Enjoy it as: An essay and a podcast (read by Debra Winger)

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