‘With Love’ Season Two Celebrates BIPOC & Queer Joy Amid Growing Pains

Warning: Spoilers Ahead Cuban-American showrunner, producer, and actress Gloria Calderón Kellett knows how to tell love stories that go beyond the Hollywood tropes of what love looks like and it’s evident in the latest season of her series, With Love

With Love season two

Photos courtesy of Amazon Studios

Warning: Spoilers Ahead

Cuban-American showrunner, producer, and actress Gloria Calderón Kellett knows how to tell love stories that go beyond the Hollywood tropes of what love looks like and it’s evident in the latest season of her series, With Love. The show centers on the Diaz family and the highs and lows of their relationships with humor, heart, and authenticity. It ultimately comes down to  great storytelling and for season two, which premiered June 2 on Prime Video, we get to see queer love triumph, sexual openness, reignited love, and the journey of finding love by learning to love yourself first. From Beatriz (Constance Marie) and Jorge’s (Benito Martinez) steamy reunion following their fractured relationship last season to Lily’s (Emeraude Toubia) and Santiago’s (Rome Flynn) breakup and her relationship with Nick (Desmond Chiam), we see love in its beautiful and complicated glory.

Where season one established the dynamics of the couples, season two explores milestones and confronts difficult topics while still finding ways to intertwine joy, love, family fun, and a little bit of raunchiness. The six-episode season sticks to the celebration theme for each episode including a double quinceañera and Jorge Jr. and Henry’s wedding following the S1 engagement cliffhanger. Expect to laugh (Calderon Kellett’s Gladys is a joy to watch) and also sit through difficult conversations that touch on topics including queerphobia through Sol Perez (Isis King) and Miles Murphy (Todd Grinnell ) navigating their blossoming relationship and make or break life choices with Lily, Santiago, and Nick.

With Love Season 2
Pictured: Gloria Calderón Kellett (Showrunner, Executive Producer, Gladys Delgado)

Lily slowly learns to detach from the fantasy she had of what her love and life would be and learns to embrace where she is at now. When she discovers her  teenage bucket list, she sets out on a journey to check off each item but she also starts on a path of self-discovery through investing in her career and thinking about what it is she actually wants. We’ve already seen her try and find love and now the matter isn’t in finding it, but in learning to keep it. This, Toubia shares, is Lily’s rock bottom as she’s about to turn 30, living with her parents, torn between two men, and with a job with little prospects of moving up.

“We’re constantly dealing with the struggle of trying to find love, or trying to build our dreams or career. And then we have all this pressure from our family, all this pressure from society on when should we get married, when do we have to have kids be be successful, but don’t be too successful,” Toubia tells HipLatina. “Because you don’t want to push men away. Because if you’re more successful than a man, then that’s gonna intimidate them. It’s all these things that people tell us how to do, what to be, and it’s like, wait a minute, stop. I need to find out what I want in my life and I’m setting my own rules and I’m setting my own standards.”

With Love Season 2
Courtesy of Amazon Studios Pictured (L-R): Emeraude Toubia (Lily Diaz), Desmond Chiam (Nick Zhao)

The 34-year-old actress, who is of Mexican and Lebanese descent, was so inspired by Lily’s bucket list episode that she’s created her own bucket list that includes going to a Duelo concert, taking a cooking class, and getting her ears pierced. She shares that she and her friend made a pact to hold themselves accountable to the goals on this list because they don’t “anybody else but ourselves to go have fun and enjoy life.”

To see a Latina character experiencing an array of emotions and having it together and then having it fall apart is a level of authenticity we don’t often get to see. Toubia is currently the only Latina starring in a rom-com series and one of the few Latina leads currently in a series so to add this level of storytelling makes it that much more profound. Within that as well is a look at the complicated, messy existence of  a young woman figuring out her love life  and career WHILE living with her parents. A reality many Latinas today can relate to.

“To me, that was the most important, setting our boundaries with my parents. Like my mom is no longer allowed to discuss children or family or marriage,  because in a way, it pressures us because I feel as kids we constantly want to make our parents proud. That is what validates us, if our parents feel proud of us, we are doing what’s right,” she says about what’s she learned from Lily. “And it’s like, no, it’s what makes me happy, right? So it’s kind of learning from my character learning from the words that Gloria puts in her mouth. We’re all a little messy sometimes and it’s okay.”

With Love Season 2
With Love Season 2 Photo courtesy of Amazon Studios

At one point during the wedding episode,  Sol reminds her to initiate eldest daughter mode and “shove those feelings down for the sake of everyone else.” That is real talk as many Latina eldest daughters know all too well. For Toubia though, all jokes aside, that desire that Lily battles with of trying to make everyone happy and do what she thinks she’s supposed to, leads to an important life lesson that she hopes everyone tuning in learns.

“Set your own dreams, your own standards, learn how to be in solitude, which is very different than being lonely, right? Learn how to love your imperfections, because that’s what makes you so beautiful.”

One of the most touching scenes this season is between Lily and Beatriz, a heart to heart that leaves Beatriz feeling needed (which, as a true Latina mom, she revels in) and Lily feeling centered: “It’s so much easier to blame the universe, rather than own your own decisions,” Beatriz tells her. “Do you know what is better than magic? Reality.”

She goes on to share that she chose Jorge and vice versa and it’s an ongoing decision in their life together.  Their decades-long marriage took a turn in season one when she felt taken for granted and now they’re the embodiment of doing the work to keep the romance alive. Beatriz, in her wisdom that’s come with age, is the foil to Lily’s still young and idealistic ways but that doesn’t mean Beatriz is settled into a life without her own sexual escapades. This season we get to see her and Jorge embrace the joys of sex and it gets a little awkward once Lily moves in but for the 57-year-old veteran actress known for her work on the George Lopez show and Selena, it was both a scary and exhilarating scene.

“It was terrifying because I’m the age that I am and nobody’s asked me to be sexy in a very long time. But it also made me super happy for the opportunity for us to be reflected because something happens, you hit 40 and poof, you’re no longer visible,” she tells HipLatina. “I can’t remember I mean, to be a woman and be sexual at this age. If I ever see it, there’s something wrong or  it’s somebody’s cheating or something like that. This is a celebration of midlife sexuality and that was, I think, so important to be reflected on our screens.”

There are so many elements to the show that can check off a list of communities that aren’t represented: from a Latino/Asian gay relationship, trans love, love after 50, love after loss, and the list goes on. As Kellett previously shared, the series is rooted in sharing Black and brown joy. “We’ve all been through this collective trauma and I just want to make something joyful. I just want to see Black and brown, queer, and Asian joy on screen.

In the face of Latinx-led show cancellations like Gentefied and Gordita Chronicles, to get a second season feels like an achievement in and of itself. Marie and Toubia agree that having Kellett at the helm is a crucial part of the show’s success. “I’m so glad that she’s on our side because I would hate to be on the opposite side of her because she’s truly a force to be reckoned with. And I don’t know how she can keep impressing me every day, but she does. And I think she’s a magnificent representation of a Latina, who is just embodies everything, and is still a good human,” Marie shares. She credits her for developing a series that does so much for representation but also, above all else, tells authentic stories.

“It’s about love, and that they’re human and it’s about connections, and it’s about relationships. And to me, it is a really pure, wonderful, messy, funny, respectful, loving show.”

With Love season two is available now to stream on Prime Video

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