With Love Doubles Down On Queer Latine Representation — And I Love It

Latines love entertainment. For years, we have been the top moviegoers — even though the films we watch rarely reflect our communities. While we represent 19% of the U.S. population, we make up only 4.6% of movie roles and 5.3% of TV roles. When we do see ourselves on the big or small screen, we are often playing one-dimensional characters or are cast in films riddled with stereotypes, tropes, and stories that fail to represent the totality of who we are. So we decided to hold Hollywood accountable. Welcome to La Nota, a column where we measure the (mis)representation of Latines in film and TV and grade projects against a Somos test that looks at gender, race, language, and more. This month, we’re grading the Amazon Prime series “With Love.”
Lily (Emeraude Toubia) and Jorge Diaz (Mark Indelicato) were on a mission to find love in the first season of Amazon Prime’s With Love, and in a just-saccharine-enough second season, the siblings are hit with an even harder mission: keeping the love they found despite expectations, emotional baggage, and turbulent family holidays. With the benefit of an established roster of characters, Lily and Jorge, along with the rest of their family – their cousin Sol (Isis King), parents Beatriz (Constance Marie) and Jorge Sr. (Benito Martinez) — are digging deep into their emotional lives, figuring out what they want and having real conversations about love, family, and life goals. And since it’s rare to see Latine-centered TV get the chance to further develop their storylines and characters beyond a first season, it was a delight to watch With Love expand into a second season.
While maintaining the previous season’s format where different holidays set the scene for storytelling, the eight episodes of the new season of With Love also introduced family-specific dates to the roster, like Lily's double quinceñera, an engagement party, and a bachelor party (I won’t reveal who is engaged. You’ll have to watch to find out). This slight shift makes the audience feel that we are even closer to the Diaz family than in the first season, like we are truly a part of the family and are invited to any and all family gatherings at the Diaz house. With Love begins where it left off at the end of the last season: Jorge and his beau Henry (Vincent Rodriguez III) are incredibly happy together, now sharing an apartment with Jorge’s best friend Nick (Desmond Chiam), while Lily is struggling to find her footing both in her love life and in her professional endeavors. 
Lily’s storyline is extremely relatable: A woman in her late 20s, she is figuring herself out and setting boundaries for what she wants. However, this requires that she gets her shit together in a painful, yet adult way. Her relationship with her boyfriend Santiago (Rome Flynn) is perfect, except for one thing: Lily wants to get married and Santiago recoils at the very thought of a wedding. Keeping the kind of love you want and need, Lily slowly learns over the course of eight episodes, isn’t actually about signs from the universe and miraculously romantic moments; it requires inner work, autonomy, and clear-eyed choices.

"It meant a lot to see a Latina character embodying the struggles of my generation, as the millennial struggle is generally embodied by non-Latine white characters on TV and film." 

nicole froio
This is a wonderful development of Lily’s character, whose dreams of romantic fairy tales have consistently worked to sabotage her search for love. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with romance and passion, but Lily’s reliance on destiny and the universe often left her in a confused mess. This season, she learns how to take responsibility for herself and her needs, and starts dreaming about goals beyond marriage like working as a make-up artist or checking things off the bucket list she wrote when she was 15. Through heartfelt conversations with her brother Jorge, painful heartbreaks, and realizations, Lily grows up in the course of eight episodes, thus telling a story of true millennial adulthood — down to not being able to afford buying her own house or knowing what she wants out of life. It meant a lot to see a Latina character embodying the struggles of my generation, as the millennial struggle is generally embodied by non-Latine white characters on TV and film. 
The character development doesn’t stop there. Throughout the season, Jorge and Henry learn how to be in a healthy, long-term relationship with each other, tackling their faults and expectations through heartfelt, honest conversations. It was refreshing to see such healthy relationship dynamics being portrayed through a queer mixed-race couple. 
Importantly, With Love does not hold back on queer representation. In fact, this season, showing healthy queer relationships seems to be at the center of the show. It was particularly delightful to watch Sol’s relationship with her cisgender partner Miles (Todd Grinnell). Again, it’s not often that we find shows that depict a trans Black Latina woman being loved on so explicitly and tenderly by their cisgender partners. And while Miles can sometimes be clueless about queerness and transness, the conversations between the couple are both educational and instructive on how to teach the people we love how to refer to us and how to love us when our identities are marginalized. Additionally, Sol is officially a doctor now, so her life doesn’t only revolve around romantic love and her cisgender partner. Everytime Isis King was on screen, I rejoiced in how she was taking up space.

"Showing healthy queer relationships seems to be at the center of the show."

nicole froio
And because of the centrality of Jorge’s and Sol’s storylines, With Love displays some beautiful scenes of queer, Latine joy. At a time where trans and queer people are constantly under attack in the United States, particularly within Latine communities and in states with large Latine demographics, this representation demonstrates that queer joy matters and is allowed to exist. With Love manages to make a point in centering these stories — and the fact that queer love is alive and well — and it doesn’t feel forced or like the showrunners are doing it for representation points. Queer Latine love is the heart of this show.
The diversity of love shown on screen doesn’t stop at queer love, either. Another highlight of With Love is the rekindled relationship between Jorge Sr. and his wife Beatriz, who went through a rough patch of long-term relationship disconnection in the first season. Their relationship, more than any other, shows how much love is a constant return to the person you choose rather than a fairy tale full of signs from the universe. Ultimately, Jorge Sr. and Beatriz are the model for the healthy relationships the younger generation of the family tries to emulate, and rightly so. Both Lily and Jorge have a lot to learn — it’s not all about finding the person you love, it’s also about working to maintain relationships, which includes also being true to yourself in the process. 

"Put simply, 'With Love' is the best example of how good a TV show with a diverse cast can be."

nicole froio
Put simply, “With Love” is the best example of how good a TV show with a diverse cast can be. Many production companies have tried and failed to create TV shows that have good writing as well as diverse stories and characters. With Love succeeds in creating characters that feel real rather than for representation points through an organic dynamic between the characters. While this is unapologetically a Latine show — I mean, the first episode is set on Christmas Eve rather than Christmas Day, and Lily celebrates her 30th with a doble quinceñera — the way With Love tackles the vulnerabilities of love and family deserves a much wider audience.

Gender & Sexuality: A+ 

Two of the main characters are openly queer and proud of it. Queerness and transness are openly discussed in the show. Women are portrayed in their fullness, despite the show’s focus on love. I loved how Lily’s sexuality was portrayed — from masturbation scenes to steamy sex, With Love did not pull punches when tackling women’s sexuality. 

Regional Diversity: B

With Love centers on a Mexican-American family, though there is also Afro-Cuban, Filipino, and mixed-race Latine representation. It’s refreshing. 

Language: A

Code-switching was on point. Perfect use of words like “Oye!” and “Papi” that then transitions into English and don’t feel forced. 

Race: A 

Finally, a show with Afro-Latine representation and a wide-range of skin colors! A constant critique I make of Latine TV shows and films is how the lack of Afro-Latine characters reinforces the idea that Black people cannot be Latine. This isn’t a problem in With Love: the character of Santiago — and his friends and family — blows this dichotomy up directly. I was so happy to see this representation on screen. Hopefully, other Latine-led shows can learn from With Love.

Stereotypes & Tropes: A

With Love didn’t rely heavily on tropes and stereotypes at all. The female characters were extremely well-developed, and I felt like the passionate Latina stereotype was given the nuances and fullness Latina women deserve. 

Was it Actually Good? A 

I was obsessed with this show while watching it. I’m Team Nick all the way.

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