LOVE IS IN THE AIR

Or at the movies, online or on screen.

Story by Jim Witous

With Valentine’s Day approaching, some of us may desire or deserve some gentle persuasion or prodding (no pun intended) to get into the mood for love. Here’s a compilation of love stories from podcasts, movies, and television that will make you laugh, cry, and long for someone special to share these emotions with.

Modern Love Podcasts

Based on The New York Times series of weekly reader-submitted essays, Modern Love podcasts feature famous performers (Alicia Keys, Greta Gerwig, Kate Winslet, Uma Thurman, Colin Ferrell, Jake Gyllenhaal, Stanley Tucci, etc.) reading true stories of love, loss, and redemption. Since the launch of these podcasts in 2016, there have been almost 200 episodes, with new releases arriving every Thursday. Here’s a few of my favorite love stories from this eclectic mix of audio delights.

Your Dog Has Seen Me Naked, narrated by William Jackson Harper and written by Ryan Pfeffer, humorously chronicles the author’s experiences dating someone living in a studio apartment with a pet and how he dealt with the logistics around sex.

At the Hospital, an Interlude of Clarity features director Judd Apatow reading an essay by Brian Gittis about a date that goes very wrong and leads to the emergency room. The author writes, “There is never a good time to fall off your couch onto a martini glass and begin losing a dangerous amount of blood, but having this happen in the middle of a promising date is an especially bad time.”

The Race Grows Sweeter, narrated by singer-songwriter Mary Chapin Carpenter is a story by Eve Pell, about finding new love later in life. Eve and Sam dated for two years and when she turned 70 and he 80, they had a joint 150th birthday party and announced their engagement. They were married a year later.

The Wisdom of the Moving Man, an essay read by actress Lake Bell and written by Emily Raboteau, focuses on the people outside of our family, friends, and partners who have the ability to change our lives. Emily writes, “No one goes into a move experience expecting to fall for her mover!”

“The Night Girl Finds a Day Boy.” Written by Amanda Gefter and narrated by Logan Browning. A lot of things can get in the way of love—distance, money issues, being in different places in your life, but sometimes we face a very different kind of challenge. Amanda was born with a circadian rhythm disorder called “delayed sleep phase syndrome” that creates some interesting challenges in her relationship.

Movies

Love Actually  is a vibrant romantic comedy, already a modern classic, which is perfect holiday movie to watch at home or on the big screen with the San Francisco Orchestra at Davies Symphony Hall. It was written and directed by Richard Curtis (Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill, Bridget Jones’s Diary and Yesterday) and features an ensemble cast of British actors (Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman, Hugh Grant, Colin Firth, Keira Knightley, Liam Neeson, Bill Nighy, and Rowan Atkinson) and American actors (Billy Bob Thornton, Laura Linney, January Jones, Elisha Cuthbert and Denise Richards). It takes place five weeks before Christmas in London and portrays different aspects of love seen through nine separate and sometimes interlinked love stories. It also features an excellent soundtrack including songs by Kelly Clarkson, Dido, Norah Jones, Eva Cassidy, Maroon 5, Joni Mitchell, Otis Redding, the Pointer Sisters and the Beach Boys. Warning: Prepare to be smitten!

Television

Love, American Style was a romantic comedy television show that loosened up American mores during the cultural revolution of the late ’60s. It was produced by Paramount Television and aired 108 episodes on ABC between 1969 and 1974. It was a cross between Laugh-In and the Love Boat, delivering bedroom humor and double-entendre jokes in short, 22 to 44 minute episodes.

This anthology spawned more spin-offs and indirect spin-offs than any show in American history. Fun Fact (as Brianna would say): On February 25, 1972, the show aired an episode titled Love and the Television Set, a story about Richie Cunningham, his family, and friends. The premise and characters would later be used for the TV series Happy Days, and this episode would later be recognized as the de facto pilot for that series.

The multitude of actors, athletes, comedians, models, musicians, and singers that made up the cast of Love, American Style would fill up several pages. Here are some of the more famous celebrity guests (ones that I remember) who starred in this generation-defining series. If you are a baby boomer you should be able to recognize most of these stars. If not, you should skip to the next article.

Stefanie Powers, Jo Anne Worley, Henry Gibson, Judy Carne, Arte Johnson, Ruth Buzzi, Rich Little, Larry Storch, Bill Bixby, Bob Denver, Tina Louise, Julie Newmar, Dick Sargent, Bob Crane, Ozzie and Harriet Nelson, John Astin, Shelley Fabares, Robert Cummings, Jerry Van Dyke, Red Buttons, Jane Wyatt, Jim Backus, Imogene Coca, Pat Paulsen, Sid Caesar, Meredith MacRae, Shari Lewis, Regis Philbin, Forrest Tucker, Scatman Crothers, Milton Berle, Burgess Meredith, Jack Klugman, Eve Arden, Roddy McDowall, Dick Shawn, Soupy Sales, Victoria Principal, Marty Allen, George Gobel, Steve Allen, Orson Bean, Tommy Smothers, Joey Heatherton, Claudine Longet, Vincent Price, Darren McGavin, Ron Howard, Vivian Vance, Mort Sahl, Dorothy Provine, Adam West, Connie Stevens, Flip Wilson, Greg Morris, Tony Randall, Dorothy Lamour, Agnes Moorehead, Penny Marshall, Harrison Ford, Ben Gooding, Diane Keaton, Sonny Liston, Roger Miller, Fred Willard, Desi Arnaz Jr., Frankie Avalon, Sonny Bono and Cher, James Farentino, Annette Funicello, Tammy Grimes, Valerie Harper, Alex Karras, Lee Meriwether, Cesar Romero, Sally Struthers, Tiny Tim, Cass Elliot, Audrey Meadows, Pearl Bailey, Billy Barty, Stockard Channing, Otis Day, Shelley Duvall, Fabian, Monty Hall, June Lockhart, Amanda McBroom, Kristy McNichol, Bernadette Peters, Doc Severinson, Martin Sheen, Sissy Spacek, Mel Tillis, Bobby Rigg, and hundreds more.

And who can forget the catchy theme song (probably most of you) sung by the real-live family group, the Cowsills that inspired the Partridge Family show?

Love, Love, Love

Love American Style,

Truer than the Red, White and Blue.

Love American Style,

That’s me and you.

Happy Valentine’s Day to friends and lovers, and shall they never meet…