Brian Rea for The New York Times

Modern Love Starter Kit

If you're new to Modern Love: The Podcast, welcome! We're so glad you're here.

Modern Love: The Podcast has released almost 200 episodes since it launched back in 2016, and it can be tough to figure out where to start. So we put together some staff favorites, where the people behind Modern Love — both past and present — share their top episodes. Then, we pulled out some of our favorite stories on some of the top themes we see in Modern Love, including Dating, Parenthood, Between the Sheets, In Sickness and In Health, and Friendship.

And if you're new to podcasts altogether, we recommend this guide.


Meghna Chakrabarti, Host of the Modern Love Podcast

About That Rustle in the Bushes
We all need to laugh more, and Amelia Blanquera's story about discovering that her father kept a binder of research on her boyfriends is hilarious. I'm a mom, and I like to think that I'd restrain myself from making a physical binder of the people my kids date when they get older ... but there might be a mental binder, and I would absolutely Google stalk. Danielle Brooks does a great read of this piece, and it makes me laugh every time.

Daniel Jones, Editor of the Modern Love Column for The New York Times
Sharing A Cab, And My Toes | With Greta Gerwig

A perfect match between a reader and an essay, and a story that is about so much more than a foot fetish. It's about life, art, love and saying "yes."

Not So Simple Math | With Sarah Paulson
This performance makes me cry every time I listen to it, and because it was one of the first episodes that we pored over, I've listened to it about 15 times. It's what opened my eyes to how powerful the podcast version of Modern Love could be.

Caitlin O'Keefe, Producer
The Triangle's Sharpest Point | With Zawe Ashton
In 2010, Ingrid Maitland wrote a Modern Love column about her decision not to adopt a little girl named Emma after Emma's father — Ingrid's boyfriend — died, leaving Emma an orphan. I interviewed Ingrid, and when I talked to her, she and Emma hadn't been in touch for more than 30 years. I wanted to know what had happened to Emma, so I decided to try to find her. I was stunned when one of the women I reached out to wrote back to me, telling me she was the girl I was looking for. It was a challenging and emotional story to work on, but it's one of the most powerful I've done.

Signs, Wonders, and Fates Fulfilled | With Linda Cardellini
This piece flies in the face of any cynicism I (and others) may have about love. It’s the story of a novice monk and a woman who wants to become a nun falling for each other in a Syrian monastery, and navigating the conflicting pulls of different callings. It’s such an unusual story, and I loved talking to Stephanie Saldana about the day-to-day reality of, as she puts it, “falling in love with a man already engaged to God.”

Matt Reed, Sound Designer
A Fear Stripped Bare | With Sarah Shahi

The essay really had an impact on me. It was such a vividly written piece and I thought Sarah Shahi did a great job with the read. It was also a real pleasure to work on the score for the episode. The essay by itself evoked such emotion that the score really just needed to be supportive. I'm very happy with how it turned out.

Iris Adler, Executive Producer
Not So Simple Math | With Sarah Paulson
A brilliantly written and sound-designed episode that speaks to the poignancy and pain of giving a child up for adoption, without the usual saccharine bromides.

Jessica Alpert, Former Managing Producer
A Heart Of Gold | With Ruth Negga

I really had to fight for this essay — people thought it was an odd choice but I just love(d) it. Caroline Leavitt tells us about her pet tortoise and how his presence in her life provided a sense of stability and unconditional love. The actor Ruth Negga does a beautiful job, really making this her own. I love hearing a comedic actor take on a dramatic essay and hearing them do it so well.

Amory Sivertson, Former Producer
Take Me As I Am, Whoever I Am | With Rebecca Hall

Dating is hard enough as it is, but dating with bipolar disorder? It’s something I’d never considered before reading Terri Cheney’s essay. Rebecca Hall’s stunning read combined with John Perotti’s imaginative sound design make this episode a bittersweet knockout.

Just Friends? | With Tony Hale
Typically, we send an actor 3 or 4 essay options from which to choose. In the case of Tony Hale, we sent just one: Steve Friedman’s essay. And he NAILED IT.

John Perotti, Former Sound Designer/ Producer
It Took A Villain | With Melanie Lynskey
This was a great performance by Melanie Lynskey. It shows that these stories can be amped up by the right actor. Her voice acting really made me understand the story better, and it informed the music and sound I added.

Death Bear Will See You Now | With Ry Russo-Young
This episode is one of my favorites because it was such a strange essay. It's stuck somewhere between a dream and reality, and nothing really happens. I remember it took a long time to figure out what to do with it, but the final product is really weird in a great way, and Ry Russo-Young's read was perfect.

Louisa Judge, Former Intern
A Lost Child, But Not Mine | With Betty Gilpin
The conversation around abortion is so clouded with politics that it is rare to hear personal narratives from those who have experienced it. Kassi Underwood's essay is subtle, painful, and resilient, and Betty Gilpin gives this piece all that it deserves. 

The Race Grows Sweeter | With Mary Chapin Carpenter
I love the idea of dating later in life, when factors like marriage and having children can be ignored and the future of a relationship isn't so daunting. Simply enjoying someone's company is enough to be compatible with them. Plus, author Eve Pell is a delight, and totally unafraid to make the first move.

Semi Oloko, Former Intern
Despite The Losses, So Much Gained | With Marsha Stephanie Blake
I love, love, love this episode. I remember reading this piece and trying not to seem insane while I was (somewhat audibly) laughing and crying at my desk. It's definitely a tough story, but its heaviness is balanced by its levity. Leah Keith's author interview is really special, and Marsha Stephanie Blake gives a great read.


To Fall In Love, Do This | With Gillian Jacobs
Gillian Jacobs — known for the Netflix series "Love" and NBC's "Community" — reads a story about falling in love with the help of a psychological experiment.

The End Of Small Talk | With Paul Rust
Paul Rust, star of the Netflix comedy hit "Love," tells the story of a man who says 'no' to conversations about traffic and weather. Even on a first date.


From He To She In First Grade | With Jennifer Beals
Jennifer Beals ("Taken") reads Laurie Frankel's essay, about facing a challenging parenting dilemma.

The Boy Who Makes Waves | With Mykelti Williamson
Mykelti Williamson of the Oscar-nominated film "Fences" reads an essay about a father's complicated love for his son.


Seesawing Libidos | With Stephen Bogardus
Tony-nominated actor Stephen Bogardus brings us a tale of two sex drives.

The Plain, Unmarked Box Arrived | With Kristen Bell 
Kristen Bell ("Veronica Mars," "The Good Place" reads a story of a woman trying to recapture intimacy in her relationship by buying a sex chair.

Single, Female, Mormon, Alone | With Justina Machado
Justina Machado, star of the Netflix reboot "One Day At A Time," shares the story of one woman's quest to lose her virginity while at the same time finding herself.

Out Of The Darkness | With Mark Duplass
In this week’s podcast, the actor and filmmaker Mark Duplass (“Blue Jay”) reads “Out of the Darkness,” about the uncertainty of loving a person with mental illness.

A Boyfriend Too Good To Be True | With Caitriona Balfe
Caitriona Balfe ("Outlander") reads Deenie Hartzog-Mislock's essay, about an imaginary man who helps a family cope with Alzheimer's.

A Slow Fade To Black | With Minnie Driver
Minnie Driver of ABC's "Speechless" tells the story of a woman whose dream life was almost complete — until reality got in the way.

The Doorman | With Cecily Strong
Saturday Night Live's Cecily Strong reads a story about a woman's friendship with her doorman.

When Your Greatest Romance Is A Friendship | With Ali Fazal
Ali Fazal ("Victoria and Abul") tells the story of an unlikely friendship between a man and his elderly neighbor.


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