Modern Love 2×01 “On a Serpentine Road, With the Top Down” is the perfect example of why this show was successful in season one. It’s emotional, it’s different, and more importantly, it feels real. Most of us have experienced loss one way or another but loses are so different. Losing a parent is not the same as losing a romantic partner. So, I didn’t really go into this episode with trepidation. I don’t know what losing a husband feels like, so I expected to recognize the feeling of loss, and yet not get super emotional as it wasn’t super personal to me.
I was wrong, and not because it became more personal in any way, shape or form, but because good writing can evoke emotions even when you haven’t actually felt the same thing, been in the same situation as Dr. Stephanie Curran, played to perfection in both her grief and loneliness as in her happy, loving side by Minnie Driver.
And yet I still keep a hoodie my dad owned by my bed, even if I hardly ever wear it, and when I do, it’s never to go out because I don’t actually think it’s pretty. Emotions are funny like that, what can I say?
Sometimes, it’s an excuse. The object – in this case, the car – gives us permission to feel what we feel, to hang onto the memories. And giving away those objects feels like we’re accepting the loss. Like we’re okay with it. It’s not true, of course, but like most thoughts that have to do with grief, it doesn’t have to make sense to feel true. Ironically, grief is, indeed, like a serpentine road, except you don’t always have the top down and can feel the breeze on your face. Sometimes, you’re suffocating. The world is collapsing around you, and you can’t see the way out.
But Modern Love 2×01 “On a Serpentine Road, With the Top Down” isn’t just about the loves we’ve lost or the memories we hold onto, nor how that loss makes us feels, it’s also about the love we find after grief. It’s about moving on, and what that means in regard to what we’ve lost.
Not forgetting. Never forgetting.
There’s this idea in popular culture that moving on means the love was somehow not as strong, but nothing could be as further from the truth. Modern Love 2×01 “On a Serpentine Road, With the Top Down” examines that as it allows Stephanie and Niall (Don Wycherley) to love each other, and yet not truly understand each other, and what the other needs, at least not till they communicate. Because that’s the beauty of this show, it’s about life, and life is, often, drama. But it’s mostly about love. The love that speaks up. The one that finds a way.
You know, the one that sticks with you.
And yes, that love is Michael (Tom Burke, who gets to say very little in this episode, and still transmit a lot), Stephanie’s first husband, still being in that car with her. It’s long drives with the top down where she can still talk to him, can still feel him next to her. It’s the memories she and her daughter will always have, of a family, of a love that will never fade. And it’s also finding space in your heart for someone else.
It’s trying again. And not always getting it right. Because emotions are complicated, and messy. But that’s okay. As Niall says in this episode “grief hopefully fades, and memory eventually, but love …” that sticks. In the good ways. And you can still hold love in your heart for those who are no longer with you, and at the same time ….love more. Love others.
“How did I get so lucky twice in my life?” Stephanie asks her new husband, Niall, during the best part of Modern Love 2×01 “On a Serpentine Road, With the Top Down,” an intimate conversation between the two of them. And I think that’s the message of the hour. Love doesn’t end – it shouldn’t end. We have enough space in our hearts to love more than one person, and to lose and to get up and to continue trying. Because that’s the beauty of love. Even when it’s gone, it always stays with you.
You don’t really need that car to have those conversations. Though sometimes, the objects that are important to us …well, they’re more important than common sense. Holding onto things isn’t always necessary, but as a way to hold onto love …well, it’s hard to argue with that.
What did you think of Modern Love 2×01 “On a Serpentine Road, With the Top Down”? Share with us in the comments below!