Smartly Written and Deeply Thematic
Episode 3 of Modern Love begins with Lexi writing out a dating profile before heading to the supermarket, riding a wave of euphoria. There, she runs into Jeff and they start talking. This talking leads to coffee which in turn leads to meeting again on Thursday. Surfing those good vibes, Lexi arrives at work on a high despite receiving a light grilling from her colleague Sylvia over missing days at work.
As she heads home, depression strikes and she finds herself curled up in bed and lethargic. Jeff arrives soon after and hands her a wooden carved peach, a symbol of their first meeting, but she doesn’t seem too enthused by the gift. They head out for a date together and unlike their first meeting, things aren’t the same and her mood swings turns him off from coming up for a nightcap. As night turns to day and light filters into her apartment, Lexi’s bipolar swings back to enthusiasm again as she brightens up the apartment and prepares to cook dinner for Jeff, having invited him back again.
Partway through getting ready the doorbell rings and her mood swings back to depression again. Lexi slumps down on the toilet and weeps. Outside, Jeff walks away feeling betrayed and a fool as Lexi slumps deeper into depression. To make matters worse, Lexi’s absence from work has resulted in her losing her job. On the way out the door, she speaks to Sylvia over coffee and tells her the truth about her bipolar condition.
Sylvia cancels her upcoming appointments after hearing the truth about Lexi and watches as she breaks down crying. It’s the first time she’s ever told someone about her condition and it’s a monumental moment for her. From here, her life changes as she begins opening up to people about her mental health. Knowing there’s no cure, she learns to live with her disease.
With topical ideas around mental health and dating, Modern Love smartly depicts these changing mood swings with a smart aesthetic. During the brighter moments everything radiates with colour, background characters sing and dance their way through a dream-like state and Lexi’s clothes are suitably extravagant and wild. When things turn dark, so too does the colour palette as everything is muted, dingy and outright depressing to look at. It’s such a simple concept but the execution perfectly complements Anne Hathaway’s performance in this episode.
It’s worth noting too that the peach is used as a metaphor throughout the episode. The wooden peach Jeff gives her feels symbolic of the way people want to view you -not bruised and with a perfect exterior regardless of what’s inside. It’s a clever motif and one that sets this episode apart from the others in this series.