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Relationships Are Hard: 6 Refreshingly Authentic Portrayals of Love

Romance has never been more complicated. As entire countries continue to social distance, committed couples are seeing way too much of each other while potential new couples are going on virtual dates and cheersing through their phone screens. It’s a bizarre time.

But those familiar with the trials and tribulations of love know that its complexities are timeless, that you cannot have the soaring highs without the devastating lows. Whatever your relationship status may be, we’ve rounded up six films and series that paint realistic, moving portraits of love for you to binge during quarantine. Some of these are hilarious, some downright gut-wrenching, but one thing is for sure: none of these end with Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks holding hands on top of the Empire State Building.

Come Home

She had a loving husband and three beautiful kids—and then she walked out on them all. “Come Home” is a searing drama that challenges everything you know about motherhood, marriage, and family. You’ll start by asking, “What kind of woman and mother abandons her own children?” But by the end, your perspective will likely completely shift, and you’ll feel deeply for Marie. Because there’s always more than one side to every story, especially when it comes to relationships. “Come Home” is also a reminder that marriage and kids are not everyone’s happily ever after, and that’s OK.

Monogamish

Yup, you guessed it. This romance dramedy explores one of the most talked-about modern love issues: monogamy. Nele and Gianni have been married for 10 years and are starting to sink into a sexual rut, so they decide to start exploring their boundaries a bit...or a lot. When they try sleeping with other people, the usual factors creep in — jealousy, insecurity, trust — inevitably forcing them to take a closer look at each other. For anyone who’s grappled with the age-old debate about whether monogamy is realistic or idealistic, this series may not answer your questions, but it’ll certainly give you a sense of what nonmonogamy could look like.

Down From London

This comedy series follows Billy and Crispin, a London couple unable to progress to the next stage of their relationship. The series kicks off in Paris, where Crispin has planned the ultimate romantic getaway, but of course things don’t go as planned and the trip ends with painful disappointment. Anyone who has been in a relationship before will be able to relate as they watch Billy and Crispin do the struggle dance to the tune of “what are we doing?” and “are we even right for each other?” But even when they’re getting nowhere, traveling with these two is a fun journey.

L’Attesa

You thought meeting your boyfriend’s parents was stressful? In “L’Attesa,” the iconic Juliette Binoche plays Anna, a mother who meets her son’s girlfriend, Jeanne, for the first time. But her son, Giuseppe, is mysteriously delayed. Anna and Jeanne start getting on without him, and to their surprise, they really bond. Great, right? Wrong. Where is Giuseppe? What is each woman hiding? Turns out Anna is keeping a massive secret from Jeanne, and it’s pretty messed up. Meaning “The Wait” in English, “L’Attesa” turns a usually awkward scenario — making small talk with your boyfriend’s parents while waiting for him to show up — into a very dark one.

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A Teacher

Take this as a cautionary tale. As we’ve seen countless times before, in film, literature, and, yes, real life, it is never a good idea to have an affair with your student. “A Teacher” is a startling drama that depicts the progression of a teacher-student affair with a seriously disturbing outcome. Diana is an attractive high school teacher who has begun sleeping with one of her teenage students, Eric. What begins as an exciting forbidden tryst gradually spirals into emotional and psychological torment because Diana becomes completely obsessed with Eric. You see? It’s never worth the ego boost or the tawdry thrills — oh, and it’s also pretty unethical. But don’t take it from us. Watch “A Teacher” for a stern warning.

Blind Donna

Don’t be fooled by “Blind Donna”’s hopeful premise. The romance comedy series is refreshingly authentic and uncompromisingly realistic. Donna, played by Alina Tomnikov, has just been left by her husband, but does she fall into depression? F*ck depression! Who has time for that? Instead, she decides to go find her perfect man. Though Donna is blind, her visual impairment is never the focal point, nor is she defined by it. She’s just a woman who’s had her heart broken and is trying to find love against unique odds, and she’s flawed like the rest of us. We are all Donna.

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