The romance genre has all but disappeared from films, so several cable and streaming outlets have claimed it for themselves.
The latest to jump on board is Amazon Prime Video. The streaming service will soon air Modern Love, a new anthology series debuting Oct. 18 that features eight different stories about love, in all its various forms, based on the New York Times column (and podcast) of the same name.
The show—which features Tina Fey, Anne Hathaway and John Slattery—will be the Times’ second TV series in just a few months, following The Weekly, which premiered in June on FX and Hulu. However, the two programs weren’t part of a coordinated TV push on behalf of the Times, said Daniel Jones, the column editor of Modern Love who also served as a consulting producer on the series.
Modern Love had been in development for four years, long before either The Weekly or even the Times’ The Daily podcast had begun, Jones said Saturday at the Television Critics Association’s summer press tour in L.A.
The timing, said Hathaway, is ripe for romantic content.
“I don’t see [love stories] in the cineplexes that much right now,” said Hathaway, whose resume includes several romantic comedies. “I think we know the ins and outs of romantic films so well we’re almost ahead of them. … I’m not sure that the three-act structure is as satisfying to us as it was even 20 years ago. So, for me, it was really exciting because it 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.”
The TV series, like the column, is about more than just couples falling in love. When starting the Modern Love column 15 years ago, “We made a conscious decision to make it about more than a romantic love,” said Jones, who receives 10,000 submissions a year. “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.”
When putting together the column, “I’m most interested in the sort of offbeat love story,” Jones said. “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.”
Some of the stories were also featured on the podcast, including the one with Hathaway that involves bipolar disorder.
During the show’s long TV development, “I tried to put it out of my mind, because there’s been interest from television and movies all along. It’s so unlikely that it’s ever going to happen, that I didn’t want my heart broken,” Jones told Adweek. “But it happened at the right moment.”
Jones and the Times want the series to continue after its eight-episode first season. “I would hope it would go on and on and on,” he said. With more than 750 published stories to choose from, “I think the hope of all of us is that it’s inexhaustible.