Modern Love: Ranking season 1 episodes from best to worst
There comes a time in every TV viewer's life when they realize that it's simply not possible, nor is it worthwhile, to watch everything. Fortunately, there are some shows you can outright ignore (lookin' at you, Almost Family!), and some that allow you to binge selectively. One such pick-and-choose binge option is Amazon's Modern Love, the anthology based on the New York Times column of the same name. Before the show premiered in 2019, Amazon sent out the first three episodes for review — which, in retrospect, was a wise strategy. Those first three episodes are great, while the rest are varying degrees of okay (Amazon released a second season in 2021). So in the interest of helping you assemble your own selective Modern Love binge, I've ranked all season 1 episodes, from best to worst.
1. Episode 1: "When the Doorman Is Your Main Man"
How I Met Your Mother's Cristin Milioti starred as Maggie, a single book critic whose doorman, Guzmin (Laurentiu Possa, charmingly stern), kept a protective watch over her search for Mr. Right. This is a love story about found family and an unexpected friendship, with an ending that will have you wiping away happy tears.
2. Episode 2: "When Cupid Is a Prying Journalist"
The amount of story and emotion packed into this 31-minute episode, written and directed by executive producer John Carney, is truly astonishing. Catherine Keener starred as Julie, a reporter, who sat down with up-and-coming app developer, Joshua (Dev Patel), for an interview. When talk turned to Joshua's dating life and the one that got away (Caitlin McGee), Julie shared a story of her own lost love in the hopes that Joshua can avoid his own heartbreak. Pure, undiluted romantic bliss — and Dev Patel's hair deserved an Emmy of its own.
3. Episode 3: "Take Me as I Am, Whoever I Am"
Sensing a pattern here? Amazon definitely front-loaded Modern Love with its three best episodes. While I'm not a huge Anne Hathaway fan (nor am I a Hatha-hater), I found her authentic and enjoyable as Lexi, a woman whose bipolar disorder makes dating — and sometimes even just existing — very challenging. It's an eye-opening and uplifting tale of learning to love yourself.
4. Episode 7: "Hers Was a World of One"
Also known as "the Hot Priest episode." When Tobin (Fleabag's Andrew Scott) and Andy (Brandon Kyle Goodman) decided to start a family, the adoption agency introduced them to a pregnant free-spirit named Karla (Olivia Cooke). Soon, she and her dog moved into Tobin and Andy's apartment and completely upended their lives. It's kinda cute, kinda sweet, and there's a really odd cameo in the middle of the episode, but the story plays out exactly how you'd expect it would.
5. Episode 8: "The Race Grows Sweeter Near Its Final Lap"
Since it's the finale, this episode tries to make a Big Statement About Love by delivering a twist of sorts in the final minutes (I won't spoil it), but the A-plot stands on its own. Jane Alexander plays Margot, an older woman mourning the loss of her husband, Kenji (James Saito). It's a bittersweet tale of late-in-life love.
6. Episode 6: "So He Looked Like Dad. It Was Just Dinner, Right?"
I'll be honest: This one only ranked so high due to the presence of Julia Garner, who won an Emmy for Ozark and was also spectacular in Bravo's Dirty John. Here she plays Maddy, a young woman who grew up with an absent father and then carried a host of daddy-related issues throughout her day-to-day life. She developed a non-sexual crush on Peter (Shea Whigham), an older man at her workplace — and things got even more cringeworthy from there.
7. Episode 4: "Rallying to Keep the Game Alive"
Oh, what a disappointment. Tina Fey and John Slattery are usually immensely likable, but even they couldn't save this story of unhappily-married people who turned to tennis…not to save their marriage, per se, but the sport made their union tolerable. It's grim and depressing.
8. Episode 5: "At the Hospital, an Interlude of Clarity"
A hot woman (Sofia Boutella) and a slightly-less-hot man (John Gallagher Jr.) spend the night in the hospital after a date-night mishap. A lot of talking and freshman-year soul sharing ensued. By the end of the 30 minutes, even Boutella's character was asleep.