[Modern Romance] a sprightly, easygoing hybrid of fact, observation, advice and comedy, with Mr. Klinenberg, presumably, supplying the medicine — graphs, charts, statistics and the like — and Mr. Ansari dispensing the spoonfuls of sugar that help it go down ... I could have done without some of the statistics and studies, frankly, but they were broken into digestible chunks and so slid by easily. The best part of Modern Romance comes when Mr. Ansari and his team get people to share the most embarrassing aspects of their romantic quests.
Ansari is particularly funny on such matters as sexting, the self-defeating ubiquity of dating site male openers ('Hey', 'Whassup?') and the perfect online dating photo (cleavage for females, and scuba diving for males, apparently). What emerges is a book that is somewhat inconclusive (how could it not be on such a vast subject?), but is nonetheless entertaining and illuminating ... Ansari comes across as a decent, thoughtful, amusing guy, with a genuine interest in the modern dating whirl, on behalf of males and females alike.
Modern Romance feels a bit like the sweet little brother to Neil Strauss’ The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists. Like Strauss’ 2004 best-seller, Modern Romance styles itself as a personality-driven piece of pop sociology ... In contrast to the sex-obsessed PUAs and the wedding-crazy dating gurus, Ansari approaches relationships like an actual human being ... Ansari doesn’t ignore the particular ways in which romantic relationships have traditionally put women at risk. He acknowledges that the confusion endemic to modern heterosexual relationships represents a vast improvement on the rigid old scripts, which denied women professional and personal agency ... The sole bummer about Modern Romance is almost a deal-breaker: It takes itself too seriously. The book could be a fun, lovely little manual, but it has aspirations of being an actual sociological tract. The reader can intuit when Ansari-the-comedian is writing and when Klinenberg-the-sociologist is taking his turn, and it makes for a rocky read.