Modern Love: a show made entirely of coffee, scarves and Ed Sheeran | Television & radio


Hope you like Ed Sheeran acting because Ed Sheeran is acting, here, in this. You thought you could escape Sheeran for a second, didn’t you? You fool. “I don’t personally like the music of Ed Sheeran,” you think to yourself, as if it were as easy as that. “I simply avoid his concerts and thus commit myself to a life of not looking at his little Megabus Man face.” But oh, look, no: here’s his skin on a ketchup bottle. Oh, look, no: he’s in Game of Thrones, singing. And oh, look, no: for absolutely no reason at all, he’s been stunt-cast in Modern Love, doing a calamitous Irish accent and derailing an entire scene because he is Ed Sheeran, and we live in a world where Ed Sheeran is allowed to do what he wants, and that includes ruining a perfectly serviceable Amazon Prime series about love because he was vaguely in the area while it was filming.

So Modern Love (from Thursday 17 October, Amazon Prime Video) is this: it’s the Netflix series Easy, but it’s made instead for Amazon Prime. That is simply it. Nominally, it is a series based on the New York Times column, where reader-contributors file a column a week to build a picture of the intricate and unusual dating scene we have in 2019 (a difficult relationship with your pregnancy surrogate! A weird sexual/non-sexual relationship with a work dad! Platonic love with your apartment doorman!). It’s all of that, yes, but it is also the Netflix series Easy, made instead for Amazon Prime. If you have not seen Easy, it’s a show where people fall in love with spiky difficulty while Dave Franco is literally always yelling about IPA. Switch him out for Anne Hathaway having a breakdown and it is more or less the same show.

Does that mean it is bad? No: it is built on the same foundations, so has A-list actors dialling it down for TV; the same feeling of “drum-tight script with a little improv for spice”; stories that run out of juice so they just put “SIX MONTHS LATER” on the screen and show two characters kissing, their problems magically resolved; the same idea that the city underpinning all this romance can be an ever-present character of its own; and the same lack of real panic, the assured knowledge that All Good Love Will Turn Out Fine. It is a lot of people holding coffee with both hands while wearing scarves; and lots of men with unshaven faces and button-down shirts somehow making a supermodel laugh so much she has sex with them. But it is also romantic and cosy and sincere, and although it occasionally zigs into American saccharinity it mainly stays grounded in that floaty, magical feeling of falling in love, where sweet things only happen and you can’t believe life can be so good and still stay real.

Obviously, I fear every single streaming service on the planet will need one of these shows – the Disney+ effort, Sorry I Accidentally Headbutted You When We Tried Our First Kiss But Can You Please Meet My Dad?, will go head-to-head with Hulu’s Hey, I’m Your Uber Driver: Don’t You Think That Eight Minutes Of Banter We Just Had Should Lead to Awkward Bra-Stays-On Intercourse? – but, honestly, I’d rather every TV show is ruined by being about love than every TV show be ruined by having Ed Sheeran in it for no reason at all.



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