I don’t usually find things funny that normal people do. For example, I like Tina Fey well enough but well before the point of obsessive. Will Ferrell has made maybe two movies I’ll chuckle along to, and I can’t stand Chelsea Handler. Somehow though, Aziz Ansari cracked through my humorless shell and legitimately cracks me up.
In Modern Romance, comedian Ansari and NYC sociologist Eric Klinenberg team up to conduct a massive research study across the United States and spreading to Paris, Tokyo, and Buenos Aires, about the ups and downs of dating nowadays. They analyzed Reddit surveys, interviewed the world’s leading social scientists, and conducted thousands of conversations with men and women of all ages, races, and relationship statuses. With the rise of online dating and the perks/pitfalls of technology, Ansari humorously uncovers how finding a mate has evolved through the years along with providing solid advice on how not to find your soul mate.
I do admire Mindy Kaling, but was utterly unimpressed by her book Why Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, which also takes a comedic view of romantic relationships. It felt like a drunken pixie’s verbal vomit – each chapter, even within chapters, leaped hyper-actively from topic to topic. Comparatively, what I love most about Modern Romance is that it’s the exact opposite. It’s generally cohesive and each chapter sticks to a theme to gets its point across. Yes, there are frequent random interjections and footnotes, but they add to the overall picture that Ansari is trying to present.
He effectively uses both data and anecdotes throughout the book, throwing in (easily understandable) graphs and charts alongside stories from his shows and focus groups. Every so often a fact just staggered me, though some of his information is obvious and/or repetitive to anyone involved in the online dating world. Still, it is comforting/hilarious to hear about Ansari and others experiencing the same issues and also fascinating to hear from non-Americans about the different romantic problems their countries face.
I would highly recommend it (and in fact already have!) to any millennial struggling with modern romance. It’s not perfect, but is by far the wittiest, most insightful book I’ve heard of on the topic, and will lend you much needed perspective. Perhaps a bit science-y for some, but it will surprise you into laughing out loud.