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With Love's Great Romances Are Perfect Queer TV This Valentine's Day 

With Love's Great Romances Are Perfect Queer TV This Valentine's Day 

With Love
Amazon Prime Studios

Gloria Calderon Kellett's holiday-focused series that centers queer and Latinx romances includes an uplifting Valentine's Day episode. 

Just ahead of Christmas 2021, Gloria Calderon Kellett's deeply romantic series With Love dropped on Amazon Prime. The initial season followed the multigenerational Diaz family over five holidays (each a different episode) and centered stories of queer and Latinx people.

The show kicked off with an ode to Christmas but hinged on the Valentine's Day episode. In it, Isis King's Sol, a doctor, finds love and more than a few surprises with her new paramour, Dr. Miles Murphy (Todd Grinnell). At the same time, Ugly Betty star Mark Indelicato's Jorge is at a bit of a crossroads with his hunky boyfriend, Henry (My Crazy Ex-Girlfriend's Vincent Rodriguez III), as the former insists on tracking down and checking on his sister, Lily (Emeraude Toubia), who's just gone through a breakup. Kellett, who famously rebooted One Day at a Time with a Cuban family at the center, created a series that focuses on love in many forms -- romantic, familial, platonic, and cultural. And it's the perfect series to revisit for a feel-good Valentine's Day.

When Kellett, who plays the family's randy aunt Gladys on the show, chatted with The Advocate ahead of the premiere she said of creating the series that she was eager to get it out in the world after the years of heaviness brought on by the pandemic.

"[With Love] came out of the pandemic; it also came out of you know, I love holiday romcoms. I'll watch Love Actually and Elf. It really is a White Christmas, right? It's really white...and it's not reflective of me or my community," Kellett said. "I was like, I want us to have something that feels like this [that is] yummy and warm and good. Especially right now, boy, could we use something like this."

Watch The Advocate's interview with Isis King and Todd Grinnell

King made history as the first trans contestant on America's Next Top Model. In With Love, she plays a progressive role in that her character's nonbinary identity doesn't define them. The evolution of trans acceptance plays out in the Valentine's Day episode when Sol meets Miles's nonbinary teen, for whom parsing identity is a passe.

"It's just so nice to play a character who focuses on their career and family and friends -- to see them [Sol] in this environment where they get to just focus, but then something happens and someone pushes them to kind of give Miles a chance at love," King said. "It was just refreshing because, for a trans character, I feel like usually were sidelined [as a] sexual object or sexual being, and Sol isn't that type of thing. And that's how I am in my life right now."

Meanwhile, Indelicato's Jorge has the perfect boyfriend in Henry (a bisexual male character, a type still underrepresented on TV). But Jorge struggles to balance his love of family with commitment to a partner. For Indelicato and Rodriguez, who are both gay, it was a dream to work on the project playing characters who felt authentic.

Watch The Advocate's interview with Gloria Calderon Kellett

"The one thing that really struck me [about the series] was a very healthy relationship between a brother and sister, a very healthy romantic relationship between two gay men, and a very complex and loving relationship with his Latino family," said Indelicato (who was recently on Hacks).

"On top of that, you know, you just have extreme representation. I mean, the dial just goes completely [up] on the multiplicity of lived experience. That is something that we don't see enough of," he said. "Representation is always going to be a work in progress, in my opinion. It's never going to reach the pinnacle of representation. However, it was alarming in a good way to see this much representation packed into one show."

Watch The Advocate's interview with Vincent Rodriguez III and Mark Indelicato

With Love's Valentine's episode is essentially the bridge in a season that revolves around benchmark holidays including Christmas, New Year's Eve, Independence Day, and Dia de los Muertos. Rodriguez reflected Kellett's sentiment that With Love's message of inclusivity and love are necessary.

"Our show spans generational love, the LGBTQ community, and diversity. And I think that's something we need, and something that I felt very passionate about being a part of. I feel very fortunate that in my career as an actor, I've gotten to be a part of the stories that are connected to me -- like my Filipino background and being an openly gay man," Rodriguez said.

"This is the perfect [time] for us to be opening ourselves up to these kinds of stories and to have an open heart," he said.

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Tracy E. Gilchrist