Freeform is back at it again with refreshingly progressive content, this time with a queer Valentine’s Day movie.
The Thing About Harry is the story of an unlikely road trip that leads to a blossoming relationship between openly-gay Sam (Jake Borelli) and his pansexual former high school bully, Harry (Nico Terho).
Screenwriter and director Peter Paige — known for his work on Will & Grace, Queer as Folk, and The Fosters — wanted to create a story that celebrates the increasingly fluid way that Millenials and Gen-Z view sexuality. Paige told Variety,
“My generation, we were black and white: you were gay, you were straight, maybe you were bi, but nobody really believed you. Now, we’ve come to this beautiful realization of what the science said all along: sexuality is a spectrum and you can be anywhere on it and I wanted to honor that.”
At the same time, the film intentionally leans into the upbeat, rom-com canon, with references to classics like Pretty Woman and When Harry Met Sally. Jake Borelli told EW,
“We are fully in this rom-com genre. It’s not something that I’ve ever seen with queer leads.”
Notably, the film shies away from being a stereotypical coming out story. The majority of the story takes place when the leads are adults who have comfortably settled into their sexualities. When discussing his character, Borelli noted,
“At this point in his life, he loves being queer, he loves being out. It’s really just him navigating love, which is a universal thing.”
Sam is a well-adjusted young, gay man in a genre that has traditionally been dominated by straight, cis white men.
For Borelli, the most unique part of the movie is that queer characters are front and center, living full lives.
“The fact that the queer characters were not pushed to the side — we weren’t the best friend, we weren’t the one helping the lady find the wedding dress, we were the leads of the movie. That was just super-massive and new to me.”
Borelli, who came out publicly on Instagram shortly after his Grey’s Anatomy character Dr. Levi Schmitt did in November 2018, also discussed how the film helped calm fears around his career.
“Maybe Levi was it, and I might not work after that. It was something I was willing to risk just because I knew how much the storyline was going to affect people. When I got offered this movie from Peter Paige, my mind was blown. It calmed me down about what it could mean to work as a queer person in this industry moving forward.”
Hopefully, the buzz around this movie will help continue to push Hollywood toward an even bigger array of queer content.
The Thing About Harry premieres on February 15 at 8 pm EST on Freeform.