With Love is a too quick 5 episode romp through the holidays with an extended family. By holidays, I mean Nochebuena, New Year’s Eve, Valentine’s Day, Independence Day, and Día De Los Muertos. As we travel through the year we explore the love lives of various members of the family.
With Love was created and written by Gloria Calderón Kellett. She took on an ambitious task with this series. She explored cultural traditions among the various Mexican, Cuban, and Dominican characters. The exposition around these traditions was a bit forced, but probably necessary for some of the audience. The series explored the love lives of 4 separate couples. It didn’t work 100% of the time with so few episodes to tell the stories, but it had excellent underpinnings and characters.
The central family was the Diaz familia. Brother and sister Jorge Diaz Jr. (Mark Indelicato) and Lily Diaz (Emeraude Toubia) were the lead characters. Jorge, Jr. was a gay man, bringing home a new boyfriend when the series began. The boyfriend was Henry (Vincent Rodriguez III). He was a big hit with the family and these two stayed together for the remainder of the series.
Henry’s first night with the family included a sweetly hilarious scene where they all gathered round him in a circle to hear his explanation of what it is to be bisexual.
Lily had just broken up with one guy and was involved with Jorge’s roommate, Nick (Desmond Chiam). She wasn’t serious about Nick, however. The real magic came when she met Santiago (Rome Flynn), even though their love life was all over the place.
The parents of these siblings had their own marriage troubles. Jorge Diaz Sr. (Benito Martinez) and Beatriz Diaz (Constance Marie) were regarded as a perfect couple by everyone around them, but they had a rocky year.
Cousins, grandparents and others were included in the story. The grandparents (Renee Victor and Pepe Serna) were obviously still getting it on. (#EldersRock) Series creator Gloria Calderón Kellett played Gladys.
Another cousin, Sol (Isis King), was a doctor. They had a romance with a fellow doctor, Miles (Todd Grinnell). Sol also had a storyline with Miles’ genderqueer 13 year old.
I don’t want to miss anything created by Gloria Calderón Kellett. However, this series felt rushed. That she managed to cram in so much of cultural significance and so many love stories in the time she had is nothing short of amazing. The sparks between characters felt real even as their arguments were intense. Women directors included Hiromi Kamata, Kimberly McCullough, and Meera Menon.
The gay characters as well as Sol and some other trans characters all were accepted as part of the family and treated with love and respect. The romantic love stories had their bumps, but the family love was strong and unbreakable. I liked that about the series. I found the various cast members perfectly suited to their roles. Mexican-Lebanese actress Emeraude Toubia, whose other big credit is in Shadowhunters, was especially promising. I expect to see a lot more of her.
The series is available on Prime Video. Fingers crossed we get a season 2!