With Love season 1 review – so much love, so little time

December 13, 2021
Dempsey Pillot 0
Amazon Prime, Streaming Service, TV, TV Reviews
4

Summary

Without even counting its unique concept, its relatability, or its beautifully flawed characters, With Love is simply a love letter to life that any modern family will enjoy.

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4

Summary

Without even counting its unique concept, its relatability, or its beautifully flawed characters, With Love is simply a love letter to life that any modern family will enjoy.

This review of With Love season 1 is spoiler-free.


Before he died, Garry Mashall made a trilogy of films set during the holidays. While they went on to make a ton of money, none of them were inherently good, nor did they feature people who felt real. 

In Amazon Prime’s newest original series With Love, there’s a similar concept at play, but I think it’s ultimately more successful because it’s actually got heart, relatable humor, and a more believable sense of human connection.

Created by Gloria Calderón Kellett, who channeled the Latinx zeitgeist perfectly with One Day At A Time, the series follows the lives of two siblings, their family, lovers, and friends over the course of five different holidays in the span of one year.

By definition, it is an extremely limited series, consisting of only five episodes. Could it have been a bit longer? Absolutely. There are moments in the final two episodes that feel rushed for the sake of sticking to the show’s concept. For instance, there’s a fantastic montage in episode four that condenses a lot of moments I was honestly excited to see play out in real-time. Even the added epilogue feels rushed. Considering how the episode count in streaming series has slowly been dwindling over the years, I’m not surprised at how short the overarching story is. Because the show only deals with an immediate group of people, it works. If anything, the short length will just make audiences want to spend more time with these characters, and probably even bring forth a second season.

Speaking of the characters, the ensemble is great; so is the acting. Funnily enough, Calderón Kellett sneaks herself in as the family’s outgoing aunt and she has some scene-stealing moments too. Overall though, there were moments where I felt certain characters got too much attention, and other plotlines suffered as a result. There’s this one character, played by Desmond Chaim, who initially annoyed me. He plays an overly confident friend of the family. However, by the end, he actually grew on me. Sadly, he doesn’t get a good sendoff as his story arc is ultimately left incomplete.

Conversely, there’s a trans character named Sol — she’s one of the cousins in the family — whose relationship is too “sunny” at times, and whose arc I felt ended a bit too early as a result. It’s incredible to see such great representation, with actual trans actress Isis King playing the role; however, it felt to me as if the writers tried to avoid giving her character too much conflict. I personally would have loved to see her character get into more fights with her significant other. I could totally see the writers leaving that tension on the table for a possible season two.

One of my favorite things about the series was how it subverts your expectations sometimes, despite being cliched at others. For example, viewers will see certain events coming from a mile away. We can thank the romantic comedy genre, in general, for that. However, the primary couple that the series focuses on gets together and breaks apart in the most unexpected ways. From one episode to the next they go from strangers to lovers, and vice versa. In other words, the series uses its gimmick of taking place at different points in time throughout the year to its benefit, which sometimes (and smartly) results in the audience’s awe.

Now I’d be lying if I said With Love was perfect, but it’s not. Neither is any romance. And Calderón Kellett’s understanding of that makes it all the more meaningful. For a show with Love in the title, it’s just as much about life — the hows, the whys, but most importantly the whats — because if we don’t know what’s worth living for, then we sure as hell don’t know what’s worth loving either.

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