Every Episode of Modern Love Ranked from Worst to Best

TV Lists Modern Love
Every Episode of Modern Love Ranked from Worst to Best

Based on the popular New York Times column of the same name, Amazon Prime’s anthology series Modern Love is a delight. The episodes, which run around 30 minutes each, are like mini-movies instantly dropping viewers into a story they know nothing about and pulling them in with beautiful, poignant tales about love, life, and loss.

Because actors don’t have to make a season long commitment to participate, Modern Love attracts some very big names. Anne Hathaway! Kit Harington! Tina Fey! The second season took the series out of New York City, where the entire first season was set, and was filmed on location around New York state (Albany, Schenectady, Troy) and abroad (London, England and Dublin, Ireland). The settings may have been smaller, but the stories were just as large.

Truthfully any episode of Modern Love is better than a lot of what is on TV right now. But since each episode stands alone, you can watch them in any order you chose. And that is where we come in.

Here are every episode of Modern Love ranked from worst to best:


16. “Strangers on a (Dublin) Train”


Season 2, Episode 3
Directed by: John Carney
Stars: Lucy Boynton and Kit Harington

Ugh this one was maddening. As the world shuts down in March of 2020 because of the pandemic, Paula (Lucy Boynton) and Michael (Kit Harington) meet on a train from Galway to Dublin. Their connection is undeniable yet they decide not to exchange numbers (Why? Why??) and instead agree to meet up at the train station once the two week quarantine is over. Of course we all know how that worked out. Harington is as charming as ever, but this story seems more slight than the others. Perhaps because it’s based on a “Tiny Love Story” which are confined to 100 words or less. Even the inside jokes about Game of Thrones and the gentle mocking of the celebrity rendition of “Imagine” can’t totally redeem this one.

15. “So He Looked Like Dad, It Was Just Dinner Right”


Season 1, Episode 6
Directed by: Emmy Rossum
Stars: Julia Garner and Shea Whigham

Maddy (Julia Garner) is a recent college graduate whose father died when she was 11. At work her boss Peter (Shea Whigham) takes an interest in her. Maddy is infatuated and sees him as the replacement for the father she lost at too young an age. Plus, he can do all the things other fathers do for her friends: take her to dinner, unclog her toilet, buy her a new coat. Meanwhile Peter, who should definitely know better, sees Maddy as a potential romantic interest. Director Emmy Rossum handles this tricky situation with aplomb, but it still leaves the viewer feeling more than a little uncomfortable.

14. “At the Hospital, an Interlude of Clarity”


Season 1, Episode 5
Directed by: Tom Hall
Stars: John Gallagher, Jr. and Sofia Boutella

While on a date in his new apartment Rob (John Gallagher, Jr.) falls on a glass and severely cuts his arm. His date Yasmine (Sofia Boutella), who Rob still can’t believe agreed to go out with him, stays with him through the ambulance trip, his emergency surgery, and his discharge the next morning. The incident forces both of them to a level of honesty not typically found on a second date.

13. “When Cupid Is a Prying Journalist”


Season 1, Episode 2
Directed by: John Carney
Stars: Catherine Keener, Dev Patel, Caitlin McGee, and Andy Garcia

Julie (Catherine Keener) is profiling Joshua (Dev Patel) for a story about his new dating app. As the interview winds down, the conversation veers as they both open up about the loves of their lives who got away. After a betrayal, Joshua and Emma’s (Caitlin McGee) blossoming romance abruptly ends. Julie reconnects with Michael (Andy Garcia) after he failed to show up at their meeting spot nearly two decades earlier. Yet despite all the ingredients for a strong outing, this one falls a little flat.

12. “How Do You Remember Me?”


Season 2, Episode 7
Directed by: Andrew Rannells
Stars: Marquis Rodriguez and Zane Pais

Andrew Rannells wrote and directed this based on his own “Modern Love” essay first published in 2017, and also pulls from an essay published in 2019. (That’s right: Rannells has had not one but two “Modern Love” essays published.) While on a blind date with Robbie (Zane Pais), Ben (Marquis Rodriguez) ignores several phone calls from his sister. The date turns into a hook up and in the middle of the night Ben receives tragic news. Years later as the pair pass each other in the street, Ben and Robbie remember their night together—albeit from very different perspectives. Alas, some of the beauty and humor of Rannells’ insightful essays gets lost in translation as they make their way to the screen.

11. “A Life Plan for Two, Followed by One”


Season 2, Episode 4
Directed by: Marta Cunningham
Stars: Dominique Fishback and Isaac Powel

Lil (Dominique Fishback) and Vince (Isaac Powel) have been best friends since they were kids. Lil always wanted their friendship to turn to romance but it never did. Heartbroken, she struggles to find a way to let Vince back into her life. The episode, which explores the nuances of a young friendship as it matures, drives home the point that sometimes our biggest loves won’t be our romantic partners.

10. “The Night Girl Finds a Day Boy”


Season 2, Episode 2
Directed by: Jesse Peretz
Stars: Zoë Chao and Gbenga Akinnagbe

Zoe (Zoe Chao) and Jordan (Gbenga Akinnagbe) embark on a romance hampered by the fact that Zoe suffers from delayed sleep phase syndrome which causes her to be wide awake while the rest of the world sleeps. The couple learns they both need to make concessions to make their relationship work. Chao and Akinnagbe’s crackling chemistry make this episode about an unlikely romance truly special.

9. “In the Waiting Room of Estranged Spouses”


Season 2, Episode 6
Directed by: John Crowley
Stars: Anna Paquin and Garrett Hedlund

This one is not your typical meet cute. Isabelle (Anna Paquin) and Spence (Garrett Hedlund) run into each other in the waiting room of their therapist’s office. They’re both there because their spouses have cheated on them. It’s awkward because… Isabelle’s husband is sleeping with Spence’s wife. A friendship is born out of common understanding and grief. Could it become more, and what will their therapist think of all this? The sweetness that can come from sadness is on graceful display here.

8. “When the Doorman Is Your Main Man”


Season 1, Episode 1
Directed by: John Carney
Stars: Cristin Milioti and Laurentiu Possa

The episode that started it all. The inaugural outing of Modern Love followed Maggie (Cristin Milioti), a young book reviewer living in a rent-controlled apartment in New York with a doorman, Guzmin (Laurentiu Possa), who takes—in Maggie’s opinion—too much interest in her love life. He’s constantly judging and dismissing her suitors. Even when he only sees them across the street, he knows they aren’t good enough for her. When Maggie goes through a major and unexpected life change, it’s Guzmin who is there to support her and help her navigate the big decisions she has to make as her life moves forward in unanticipated directions.

7. “Hers Was a World of One”


Season 1, Episode 7
Directed by: John Carney
Stars: Olivia Cooke, Andrew Scott, and Brandon Kyle Goodman

Important programming note: This is the one with the hot priest from Fleabag. Tobin (Andrew Scott, the aforementioned clergyman) and Andy (Brandon Kyle Goodman) want to have a baby and keep having their adoption prospects fall through until they meet Katie (Olivia Cooke), a homeless pregnant woman who thinks the couple is the right choice for her baby. As they agree on an open adoption, Tobin struggles with Katie’s life choices and his own uncertainty about parenthood, while Katie rebels against societal norms and rules. Ed Sheeran even pops in for a fun cameo. How will this unlikely trio form a family?

6. “Am I …? Maybe this Quiz Will Tell Me”


Season 2, Episode 5
Directed by: Celine Held and Logan George
Stars: Grace Edwards and Lulu Wilson

Middle school student Katie (Lulu Wilson) is confused about her sexuality, so naturally she turns to online quizzes for the answers. (What problem can’t be solved by a Buzzfeed quiz?) She finds herself attracted to Alexa (Grace Edwards), but is not quite sure exactly what she can or should do about those feelings. An overnight school event brings all her confusion to the forefront, and Katie realizes she can no longer hide behind meaningless quizzes. Edwards and Wilson are extraordinary in this sweet story about first crushes.

5. “Rallying to Keep the Game Alive”


Season 1, Episode 4
Directed by: Sharon Horgan
Stars: Tina Fey and John Slattery

First of all, Tina Fey and John Slattery in an episode written and directed by Sharon Horgan (Catastrophe) is the fan fiction we didn’t even know we needed. Sarah (Tina Fey) feels that she and her husband Dennis (John Slattery) have nothing in common but their two children. Their therapist (Sarita Choudhury) suggests they take up an activity for fun, so the duo turns to tennis. Things, shall we say, do not go well. Come for an honest look at a long marriage where the spouses have become way to settled in roles they didn’t necessarily sign up for, and stay for the hilarious high school production of Glengarry Glen Ross.

4. “The Race Grows Sweeter Near Its Final Lap”


Season 1, Episode 8
Directed by: Tom Hall
Stars: Jane Alexander and James Saito

Margot (Jane Alexander) and Kenji (James Saito) meet at a fun run. Both have lived full lives and Kenji is still grieving the loss of his wife six years earlier. We get flashes of their charming courtship as Margot remembers him on the way to Kenji’s funeral. The episode serves as a wonderful and exquisite ode to the love you may find in your later years. “Young love even for old people can be surprisingly bountiful,” Margot says. The episode’s final moments revisit all the characters from the first season and serve as a wonderful coda. Get your tissues ready.

3. “On a Serpentine Road, With the Top Down”


Season 2, Episode 1
Directed by: John Carney
Stars: Minnie Driver, Tom Burke, and Don Wycherley

Stephanie (Minnie Driver) clings to the memory of her first husband Michael (Tom Burke) who tragically died young. Years later she’s remarried to Niall (Don Wycherley) and Stephanie thinks it’s time to sell Michael’s vintage convertible, which is constantly breaking down. But letting this connection to her first love go isn’t easy. The episode is a lovely treatise on love and grief and how they intertwine—and Driver is phenomenal.

2. “Second Embrace, with Hearts and Eyes Open”


Season 2, Episode 8
Directed by: John Carney
Stars: Sophie Okonedo and Tobias Menzies

Elizabeth (Sophie Okonedo) and Van (Tobias Mezies) are a divorced couple with a comfortable rapport as they raise their two young daughters. To both their surprise, they find themselves falling in love again. Their second-time-around romance hits a tragic bump which makes them both realize how much they’ve grown and how deep their love for each other is. Okonedo and Menzies have a crackling and enviable chemistry that makes the whole story come alive.

1. “Take Me as I Am, Whoever I Am”


Season 1, Episode 3
Directed by: John Carney
Stars: Anne Hathaway and Gary Carr

Anne Hathaway stars as Lexi, a successful entertainment lawyer who is bipolar—a secret she has kept from employers, colleagues, friends, and romantic prospects. When Lexi and Jeff (Gary Carr) meet cute in a grocery store produce section, it seems like romance is in the air. That is, until Lexi is unable to be honest about the high highs and the low lows of her disease. The episode deftly takes the viewer inside Lexi’s condition; when she’s on a high, she’s the star of a Broadway musical or a TV comedy (complete with a cameo from Judd Hirsch). Her world is brightly lit and colorful. New York is a vibrant delight. When she’s on a low, everything is gray and drab and she can’t get out of bed. It’s a powerful half-hour you won’t soon forget.

Amy Amatangelo, the TV Gal®, is a Boston-based freelance writer and a member of the Television Critics Association. She wasn’t allowed to watch much TV as a child and now her parents have to live with this as her career. You can follow her on Twitter (@AmyTVGal).

For all the latest TV news, reviews, lists and features, follow @Paste_TV.

Share Tweet Submit Pin