The Amazon Prime series Modern Love (based on the popular eponymous New York Times column) was released on October 17. White women gushed on social media, saying the show made them cry, and that these depictions of love were so moving, so beautifully human, so modern.
After watching the show, I cried too—longer and harder than I care to admit. But I cried because, as a Black woman, the show made me feel anything but romantic. With its total exclusion of Black, brown, and Indigenous women as love interests, I felt invisible and dehumanized. Modern Love was incredibly traumatizing to watch, reminding me of all the gendered violence and dismissal I’ve faced in my life.
Not one woman of color was a love interest. Instead, they fulfilled support roles for White women and men of color. If one were to take Modern Love’s word for it, women of color in New York City don’t experience romance or desire. They’re merely therapists, domestic workers, and ever-patient maternal friends.
The exclusion of women of color in this series is so blatant that it can only be intentional. Even in the intro, old black-and-white pictures of happy lovers are contrasted with vibrant, colorful, modern-day snapshots of romance. Plenty of Black women, with their elegant midcentury hairdos and wide smiles, are featured in the old pictures. But in the present-day pictures, Black women are nowhere to be found. One can imagine them waiting patiently outside the frame, facilitating love for others but understanding that they themselves have no place in this brave new world.
But in Modern Love, men of color are afforded a ticket to modernity that women of color are not. In the show, men of color — two…