Is there anything more romantic than a yacht in New York City’s harbor, illuminated by the yellow-orange of the setting sun and backdropped by the Statue of Liberty, a mirage in the distance? What about if the sunset-drenched yacht was filled with Amazon Studios producers and television stars, relieved that their show, about love and human connection filmed in the middle of COVID-19, finally made it to the small screen?
On Monday night, Amazon Studios hosted its premiere party for the second season of “Modern Love,” its anthology series based on the New York Times column, on a yacht overflowing with lobster rolls and service people dressed in sailor uniforms.
“I’m seeking out things that are escapist,” said Andrew Rannells without a touch of irony, who directed and wrote one of the season’s episodes based on a fraught one-night stand from his young adulthood. “Look around,” he gestured, steps from the yacht’s bow. “This is what the show is. It’s a vision of romance. It’s a vision of searching for love, of trying to put yourself out there to find love. Sometimes life interferes.”
Bringing new stars like Kit Harington, Minnie Driver, Isaac Powell and Marquis Rodriguez to the anthology, the approach to “Modern Love’s” second season is the same as its first, each episode adapted from an original column that appeared in the Times.
“We’ve been through a year and a half of trying to figure out ways to connect with one another,” said Miriam Mintz, executive producer and VP of TV for the production company Likely Story. “What does love mean? And what does romance mean? Those aren’t necessarily the same thing.”
“This isn’t just a show about journalism. It’s for people, too,” she continued, immediately (and apologetically) comprehending the irony of her statement, an admitted slip of the tongue begetting, truthfully, the show’s conceit.
In “Modern Love’s” first season, the journey from a measured newspaper column to an effusive television affair was more fraught, caught up in the boundlessness of its romance and seduced, as it were, by the kind of idyllic, aspirational, and ultimately haughty symbolism of, say, a sunset yacht in New York.
Executive Producer Trish Hofmann told Variety on the red carpet that the show’s longevity will rest on leaving behind some of that romance.
“We tried in season one to stop short of schmaltz, running in the rain,” she said. “Maybe some people didn’t think we did. But as we go farther in the show, we can root around in some less obvious ideas about love.”
“Take Andrew’s episode,” she continued, “where you have an amazing, intimate moment with somebody though you expect to never see them again — unless you live in New York and run into them on the street. An experience like that is no less romantic. There’s still a moment of love in that. Maybe it’s a moment of connection, instead.”
These days, who can blame fantasy, though?
“We’ve all had a dark year, and, anyway, ‘Succession’ season three is going to come out soon if you need that,” joked director and writer Celine Held, as the lights soon dimmed on Amazon’s hired yacht and a second sailboat circled nearby, “Modern Love” projected on its sails.
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