Set in Chicago, the TV movie follows Harry (played by Niko Terho) and Sam (Jake Borelli) who, after being stuck on what they believed to be the road trip from hell, eventually find a common ground as friends. The friendship later blossoms into a budding romance. The thing about “The Thing About Harry” is that the cast considers it a true rom-com, and it’s without any of the typical tropes of a “coming out” story.
“What I loved about the script is that it is about two men falling in love, but it’s really not about their sexuality,” Britt Baron (who plays Harry’s best friend Stasia) told Variety. “There’s no shame, there’s no coming out moment. It’s just normalized. I think that wouldn’t have been possible without the other LGBT stories on the media hadn’t been told. They paved the way.”
“Queer as Folk” alum Peter Paige served as director, penned the script, and additionally starred in the film. “The Thing About Harry” took a cue from Netflix’s coming-of-age animated comedy “Big Mouth” and includes a pansexual character, thus giving more representation to a lesser-viewed side of the LGBTQ spectrum on TV.
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“My generation, we were black and white: you were gay, you were straight, maybe you were bi, but nobody really believed you,” Paige joked. “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. I wanted to honor the way that 30-and-under generation really talks about their sexuality.”
“This movie is for a generation that may not have gotten this — because generations before certainly didn’t have it,” Borelli said. “It’s huge to see yourself represented back. A lot of times, as queer people, we don’t see that often, and especially we don’t see it in ways that feel well-rounded and feel like they’re really speaking to us…the fact that right now we’re in a culture that’s really saying that these stories have value and that these stories are worth sharing, I think that’s massive.”
Freeform celebrated the movie’s premiere at the London West Hollywood hotel with a new slogan for the love-filled holiday: “Love however the ff you want.” The new tag served not only as a reminder of the network’s backing, but also their support of inclusion. Unlike companies who might pander to the community during Pride month, Freeform is highlighting a commitment to diversity and inclusion.
“The fact that Disney and Freeform have put their money and their brand behind this story is really an incredible thing and should not go unnoticed,” Paige said. Baron echoed his sentiments, adding, “I think to be able to tell a gay rom-com on a network like Freeform is such a monumental moment… Freeform is a younger demographic and I’m excited for younger people to watch this movie and hopefully feel seen and heard and can identify with the story.”
What could that say for the future of LGBTQ stories on TV? Terho says he hopes to see more projects similar to this and shows that can go even further in the future.
“I feel like everything and anything should be shown on TV. If it’s happening in real life, TV should be like a mirror of real life… every race, every sexuality, every gender,” he said.