What is Love! Is it the beautiful bond that is shared between two people or Is it the equal compromise that one has to make for another to stay in a relationship?
The concept of love itself has a lot of connotations & meanings. There isn't any exact definition for the word and couples who are in love are still figuring out ways to express it on their own, but the Amazon Prime Video Anthology Series inspired by the personal essays from the New York Times Column with the same name brings 8 different short stories, taking this concept of love and exploring it in different ages, settings, characters, and many others.
The series sets off with a montage of shots of couples from different regions, cultures & even eras of the world being happy with the song “Setting sail”, more like a literal meaning of setting the sail of memories of those couples which are framed into these cute portraits. The song also shifts from being a melody into a funk/rock style at the end, which expresses the modernization of the music throughout the years.
When the Doorman Is Your Main Man
When the Doorman is your main man explores the friendship between the security guard of an apartment and the woman who stays in. The friendship blossoms very slowly and soulfully, in fact, it is scarier when it begins as the woman who tries to get into a relationship every day ends up with the man not being able to be around her because of the Doorman but we slowly understand the reason why and how he is more of a person who cares for her and stays with her when she can’t take breakup in a positive way.
She eventually meets a man and they stay in a relationship for some time, but ultimately he leaves her after she gets pregnant, which breaks her heart, and the doorman instead of bombarding questions takes her closer and consoles her that is all for good. He then takes care of the baby, shifts things up and down, and helps her in all ways to be a strong single mother. He turns into a guardian figure for the child and also as a father. The episode brings this fascinating concept of love that is pure and natural. Even when she moves to LA and comes back with her family, he says that “I was never looking at the man, Maggie. I was looking at your eyes”, when she brings the love of her life. It breaks the conventions of love about happy relationships but also highlights that true love is more like staying with the loved one and going through all life hurdles together.
When Cupid Is a Prying Journalist
When Cupid is a Prying Journalist brings two different love stories which are differentiated only by the age factor. Julie, a journalist working at the Sunday Magazine while interviewing a dating app creator, Joshua uncovers the human side of the man and also introspects her own story within it. It beautifully incorporates the meaning of learning from others and how the age factor is not a matter at all in love. There is a beautiful scene in the episode where the young couple visits a Zoo and Emma says “And yet love is so universal and we understand so little about animals, except that” which ultimately sums up their relationship ending up in a breakup even after being a perfect couple for 6 months. Joshua ends the relationship due to his judgmental views for one moment and believing in his trust where she still says that she loves him.
But, soon while conversing with Julie, he realizes the mistake and Julie starts to convey her story to him when he reveals his human self. She describes her relationship as an adventure as she was a 22-year old war photographer in Paris who met with a man, a senior in her college at a bar. They decide to meet up in her apartment, but he never shows up which burns her for knowing the reason why he didn't show up and how it was different for him as it was for her. She keeps the only remembrance photo of them in her book which she carries on with her life, even after getting married with 2 children. She meets her lover at the book signing after 17 yrs. They tried to part ways after spending time together and we see how the art of communication mended the years of misunderstanding they carry when they crossed paths again as they decide on choices that they were regretting to do. Julie decides to get a divorce and Michael decides to join in with his wife.
The episode conveys a beautiful message on how stories get uncovered only when one opens up and the fact that Julie could bring out the human side of Joshua, changed his entire life. It also contrasts on how journalists are now more interested in the outlook of the person rather than uncover the person's true self. It also shows the generosity of how Julie was a good listener and wasn't eager to print it in the way to take it on the record but only with his permission.
As the epilogue of Julie states “Sometimes you realize that true love in its absolute form has many purposes in life. It's not actually about bringing babies into the world or romance or soul mates or even lifelong companionship. The love we had in our past, unfinished, untested, lost love, seems to be easy, so childish to those of us who choose to settle down. It is the purest, most concentrated stuff” and that clearly explains it all.
Take Me as I Am, Whoever I Am
Take me as I am, whoever I am, follows Lexi, a bipolar young woman, and her personal experiences with it in life. The precise term for the disorder is “Ultra radian rapid cycler” which means that without any medications, the mood swings control the person. The story begins quite usual with her typing out her bio on a dating website and it is mostly conveyed through the use of Voice Overs. It is very linear and progressive as it deceives people into believing something is crazy with the woman and then actually helps us understand the trauma she goes through. The beginning is presented in a musical piece as she walks down the supermarket, flirting with a man, wearing shimmering clothes, and the people dancing around her. People with this disorder generally suffer through 2 types of mood swings: “Up” for days (Charming, talkative, funny, extremely productive, not sleeping at all) and the “down” being immobile, hard to be around, and sleeping for so long days/weeks.
It also uses visual metaphors & word playing which works with the way it conveys how traumatic it is and makes us instantly sympathize with her. Words like “Crazily Energized”, “I have been up for a couple of nights” and the people dancing around her are examples of it. When she is in high spirit, she thinks that she is having her title sequence of her own TV Show and also charms people out on her active days.
But, when she confronts the reality of the disorder, she feels sad, frustrated, ends up comparing herself with Rita Haywood and being jealous of others for how happy they are in their life. She also ends up losing the job, her date with the person she loved, and the life that she wanted to live. But at last, she vents out her emotions in tears as she shares her sorrow, pain, and trauma that she faced all these years in front of her friend at the restaurant while accepting and giving a chance for people to take her for who she is.
She also confronts the fact that we only show one side of Ourselves to our friends and states, “You can’t show only one part of yourself to someone. That’s Hollywood. That’s Gilda and it's beautiful but it can't last”.
At last, when she let it all out to her only true friend whom she trusts, she feels light weighted like a cat was out of the bag and calls everyone to let them know who she is, and she lives out the life with it as now everyone around her knows who she is and that is all that she wanted.
Rallying to Keep the Game Alive
Rallying to Keep the Game Alive focuses on a married couple with two children who are always in a quarrel state due to the varied reasons between themselves and they end up doing counseling sessions where both reveal each one’s mistake or complain about it. In a particular scene, they both watch a documentary at a local theatre on how a penguin couple keeps their eggs alive, and that exactly mirrors them as well. We see them not showing love or care for each other and keeping one away from the discussion believing that they might not be interested in the topic. The third point of keeping away is addressed with several scenes in the episode and not spending enough time together leads us to a long sequence of them playing tennis side by side and keeping up the game (life) alive.
The episode also highlights several aspects of a married couple like understanding each others perspective, trying to be supportive to each other, sharing conversations, and understand that mistakes happen from both sides as no one is perfect.
At the Hospital, an Interlude of Clarity
At the Hospital, an Interlude of Clarity starts in a quirky way of a man who invites his girlfriend for a date and ends up in an accident while attempting to get intimate. The man gets poked by the broken wine glass and ends up in a hospital. It then follows how their love story blossoms over the course at the hospital. The episode plays off like "The Fault in Our Stars" film but it is way more layered than that and the chemistry between Rob and Yasmine is very natural and realistic.
Throughout the 6 hours at the hospital, Rob and Yasmine talk about each other, play word games, discuss their personal life issues like Rob’s anxiety attacks & Yasmine's alcoholic dad. The bond between them grows gradually when they understand each other through these stories. Both of them get to hear the longer versions of it and do not stop the other one who is expressing their own feeling to them. Few questions about life and few are silly to even ask but all of them lead the couple to know each other better for who they are.
So He Looked Like Dad. It Was Just Dinner, Right?
This episode revolves around a girl who wants a caring dad. It also uses Voice Overs to narrate the story from her perspective, showing all the things happening throughout. She wanders out for a dad to compliment her, cares for her, helps her through her life, and be a support system at all times. She is jealous of everyone who has a dad to support them up. Then, she finds a man who looks and behaves exactly like her dad at her office. She tries to follow him, to get his attention in all ways. She bakes cookies for him, joins him for coffee, and even goes to his home on his bed as she sees him as a dad cuddling her up over the bed.
They both spend time with each other going to several places and he also helps her out but it becomes problematic for her when he tries to kiss her on the road after buying an expensive coat which leads to huge chaos between them.
Yet, in the end, when he decides to leave for a break from her, she accepted the relationship dismissing what society thinks, as it is her life and what she wants, which her friend states “It is creepy, but who cares. You gotta take the bad for the good”. The end might be controversial, in fact, the whole episode might be but it emphasizes that getting into a relationship is one’s personal choice. You can't judge them by any factor because it is one’s personal decision that leads them to be happy with the loved one or end up compromising with him for their whole life.
Hers Was a World of One
Hers was a world of one follows a gay couple and a pregnant lady. The gay couple decides to open adopt a baby from a homeless pregnant woman. They both meet up with her at a restaurant where she asks questions to see if they are together and are interested in adopting the baby.
This particular episode talks about various things about the world like capitalism, freedom of love, non-judgmental mindset, gender stereotypes, homophobia, poverty, and racism in a very subtle way and also explores the three-layered characters very well. The concept here is, it is the modernity of choices to decide in order to stay in a relationship, like how Andy and Tobin decides to adopt a baby though Tobin is suspicious of the mother. But he makes up his mind after seeing the baby at the delivery suite and it is so genuine to see him telling the story of her birth mother before as well as after adopting the baby with the episode ending of both of them letting the cute little girl sleep for the night.
The Race Grows Sweeter Near Its Final Lap
Old age love or romance is now being started to get explored on TV and this story is one of them that focuses on an Old age couple who meet during a marathon event. It begins with her reminiscing the memories from her lover’s coat while getting ready for his funeral. They shift from her being extremely unhappy and tired into a marathon event showing them being active on screen. The couple enjoys out by going to various places like restaurants, theatres, suites, etc. At the restaurant, they discuss how they age way faster and how for them life goes at a faster pace compared to the others which explain ageism is and its effects on people growing older but they ignore it completely for being sad about it and begins to be a healthy couple with the ability to lift up things, go for jogging, share kisses and enjoy their life.
It is lovely to see the active side of the Old age couple which is rarely shown on TV and there are also subtle references of how old age people are portrayed in the media like ads, with Margot saying to Kenji like “We have become like one of those really self-satisfied couples that you see in ads for insurance or walk-in bathtubs”.
The episode also talks about the way people differentiate between young love and the old. It also explores the way older people reminisce about their past instead of living in the moment and as said by Morgot in the episode ‘Old love is different, more realistic maybe”.
In conclusion, love is many things, it is personal for each one who goes through it. Being in a bad relationship or ending the relationship because it doesn't work for you doesn't make you bad or good. It is about the choices that one makes and as said before, each one’s love experience is different, unique and their stories are beautiful in their own way. But, modern love is evolving, changing and it is beautiful as this series explores all of it and a few other things as well which are as real as love is.
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