Out with the old, in with the new is a common refrain we hear at the start of every new year, and 2020 was no different. However, Freeform (formerly ABC Family) has taken it a step further with the premiere of its first gay rom-com, “The Thing about Harry.” Hopefully, this film serves as a gateway to future groundbreaking productions in the genre.
Similar to “Trick,” a gay rom-com from a generation earlier, “Harry” revels in a relevant, poignant and sometimes humorous storyline about relationships without relying upon tired hackneyed stereotypes, stale punchlines and overtly-forced sexual situations — it flows naturally.
It’s somewhat of a departure for Jake Borelli from his “Greys Anatomy” persona and is a mature change of pace. Niko Terho, a fresh-faced actor from New York shines in his debut vehicle as Harry and seems destined for bigger things. The chemistry between the two leads is apparent early on, Borelli with his down-to-earth, sometimes patented, uptight, neurotic portrayal as Sam, plays off Terho’s dry, free-spirited and sometimes selfishness to a tee. Terho is actually believable as a potential boyfriend for Borelli here.
Nobody can tug at the heartstrings and play vulnerability like Borelli. A shoutout to Britt Baron as Stasia, she stands out in a supporting but vital role in the film.
While the story plays into the Valentine weekend theme, “Harry” explores the ups and downs of relationships in a way that anyone of any gender or sexuality can relate to.
Director Peter Paige (“The Fosters,” “Good Trouble” and Emmett in “Queer as Folk”) keeps it all on track with a steady hand while we see the protagonist and antagonist do a role reversal of sorts throughout the film. The timeline is perfectly played out to cover a lot of ground and allows the characters to develop in front of your eyes. Paige started out with a blank canvas and ended with a vivid portrait of a relationship movie with characters that you can actually embrace. The Chicago winter serves as a terrific backdrop and metaphor for the movie. Using the road trip sequence was a well-served decision to set up the plot and foreshadow what might lie ahead.
Although it won’t solve the world’s biggest problems, “Harry” does weave a compelling tale about people, emotions and life in general, all coming together in a positive, relatable manner. “Harry” takes a once-taboo subject on TV and successfully showcases it in a mainstream setting and the audience is better off for it.
“The Thing About Harry” premieres on Feb. 15, 8 p.m. Check local listings for more information.