It’s been a long pandemic—so long, that even the thought of a warm hug has seemed almost like wishful thinking. And that’s what launched Gloria Calderón Kellett’s latest idea for a show.
Amazon Prime’s “With Love” comes from show-runner Kellett, and the new one-hour comedy spans over five episodes and five holidays. Although love is at the center of this new series, diversity also plays a big role and that was intentional for the “One Day At A Time” creator.
“I missed people. I missed big family events, I missed my cousins and my nieces and nephews and all of that,” Kellett says. She also mentions her typical watching of holiday rom-coms such as “Love Actually” and “Elf” gave her a realization about race. “It’s a white Christmas indeed,” she points out.
After coming to the conclusion that what we need in entertainment right now is a warm show wrapped up in plenty of relationships to combat the feelings of disconnection, Kellett approached Amazon. But there were some key viewpoints that she wanted to make sure were represented in doing so.
“It has been two years of trauma and heaviness. I just want to make something joyful where people who look like me are on-screen celebrating the holidays. Not the best friend, not the funny sidekick, but we are the center of the story. [I wanted to] make a story about a family that is multi-cultural, multi-generational and has several members of the LGBTQ community in it… Because I don’t just have one person in my family, we have several.”
In the show, we follow the Diaz family, and we peek into, as Kellett said, a multi-generational, multi-cultural and energetically warm unit and their holiday traditions. On the way, we also follow different couples in different stages of love as the year goes on.
There’s Jorge (Mark Indelicato) who’s been out and proud for 10 years, but has the nerve-wracking moment of bringing the love of his life, Henry (Vincent Rodriguez III), home for the first time for Nochebuena, a Christmas Eve celebration that’s a tradition for many people of Latin, Hispanic and Filipino heritage. There’s Sol (Isis King) who identifies as they/their/them and is trying to navigate a potential blossoming relationship with their coworker, Dr. Miles Murphy (Todd Grinnell). But it’s not just the coming-of-age stories; even the patriarchs of the family, Beatriz (Constance Marie) and Jorge Sr. (Benito Martinez) deal with their own relationship challenges.
It’s the narrative for the assortment of characters, much like real life, that makes this show so interesting for both the cast and, ideally, for audiences.
“The diversity and representation in this show not only made me feel seen as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, but to see these marginalized characters that I have seen in life but I have not seen on screen… It’s just so warm and full of light and for me, I just felt that the impact of this show is really epic,” explains Rodriguez who plays Henry.
He’s right. There’s representation from all ends: Race, gender identity, the LGBTQ+ community, and even all age viewpoints are practically shown. There’s Desmond Chiam as Nick Zhao who’s part of the AAPI community. Rodriguez himself is Filipino, there are showcases of characters and traditions in the Latino and Latinx community — and the list goes on and on through Nochebuena, New Year’s Eve, Valentine’s Day, Independence Day and Día de los Muertos.
“In our world it’s normalized. Just like in real life you see people and in our story, we just happen to centralize on the holidays and you get to see these very dramatic, real and rich moments that are warm, touching, heartbreaking and make you feel alive. I think they bring a lot of light to the world. I think a lot of people are going to resonate with this show and feel seen and they’re going to feel like they’re going to get a hug,” finishes Rodriguez.
For Indelicato who plays Mark, it was the play of relationships — both romantic and not — that also caused him to be curious.
“I think that the complex dynamics between people are very interesting to explore… Just in general all the time, as actors and as audience members and people that watch the show and make the show and work on the show. That’s something that we get a lot of with ‘With Love.’ There are romantic dynamics, familial dynamics and platonic dynamics, and I think that that is just inherently interesting.”
One relationship that is interesting to explore is Indelicato’s Jorge with his father. Being out for some time, Jorge has grown past the coming out narrative, and now he’s bringing home the love of his life. That also goes into play with Kellett’s desire to adapt narratives in all forms.
“For an artist, it’s about exploration,” Kellett explains. “It feels like when I was growing up, the conversation I would see about the LGBTQ-plus experience was the coming out story… Now I feel like there’s an evolution with that conversation and what happens after?”
And through it all, what will the show bring audiences this holiday season? Indelicato says it best: “We [the cast and crew] spent a lot of time together. That very much lent itself to the success onscreen and the authenticity that you see onscreen in terms of our chemistry with one another — you’ll feel it.”
That sounds like a hug.
“With Love” will premiere all five episodes on Friday, Dec. 17, on Amazon Prime Video.