It seems the holy grail of essay writing about love is The New York Times’ “Modern Love” column. The popular weekly feature that began in 2004 has also become a mainstay in contemporary culture. In the season six debut of the HBO series Girls, Hannah, the main character and writer played by Lena Dunham, publishes an essay in the column. In real life, the question, “Where can I read Hannah’s ‘Modern Love’ essay?” burned up internet boards like Reddit and fueled cultural critiques on Flavorwire.
“Modern Love’s” growing franchise now includes live reading events, anthologies, and podcasts narrated by “notable personalities.” But the column read by many is written by few.