Rome Flynn on “With Love” Season 2: That Messy Love Triangle, a Nude Scene, and More
When season two of Gloria Calderón Kellett’s “With Love” series dropped on Amazon Prime earlier this month, with it came many juicy romance storylines. While the show does a beautiful job of portraying the joy within Latine love stories, there’s still drama. This season explores the complexities that can come when two people love each other but don’t necessarily want the same things.
Take the complicated love triangle between Lily Diaz (played by Emeraude Toubia), Nick Zhao (Desmond Chiam), and Santiago Zayas (Rome Flynn). We witness Lily being pursued by two love interests, unsure of who she ultimately wants to be with.
Lily and Santiago couldn’t be more opposite, especially when it comes to their views on relationships. But for the longest time, they thought their love for each other was enough to overcome their incompatibilities. Cuban American actor, singer, and model Rome Flynn shares that the complications between Lily and Santiago ultimately stem from their different views on the institution of marriage. Lily wants to get married and Santiago doesn’t believe in it.
“In the first season, they spoke about where they were, and he mentioned that he was loyal to her and he wanted to dedicate being with her. He wanted to grow old with her and have kids with her and all these things,” Flynn tells POPSUGAR. “But I think his beef is really with the establishment and the control that he feels that this piece of paper shouldn’t have over their relationship.”
At the end of season two’s first episode, Lily and Santiago are at a big family gathering hosted by the Diaz family. Santiago takes Lily outside to talk. He takes out an engagement-ring box, but when he opens it, there’s a set of keys instead of an engagement ring. Lily is instantly disappointed that he’s asking her to move back in rather than proposing, so she instantly breaks things off.
“You could say, ‘Wow, I can’t believe Santiago would just leave that relationship behind because he doesn’t want to get married,'” Flynn says. “But on the other end of it, there are people who think the other [way] and say, ‘Hey, I’m perfectly happy being with somebody without being married, so why would she throw that all away just for a piece of paper?'”
Lily and Santiago eventually start dating other people. Santiago goes on casual dates, while Lily finds herself in a serious relationship with Nick, leaving Santiago regretful for not wanting to propose to Lily in the first place. For a while, the two try to remain friends. On her birthday, Lily has a bucket list of things she wants to check off, including skinny dipping, and asks Santiago to join her. As an Afro-Latino, Flynn says he is very aware of the hypersexualization that is often placed on Latinx and Black actors in Hollywood, so he was very deliberate about his approach to that scene and his role in the show in general.
“If you notice in the first season, I’m barely even shirtless, and that’s so on purpose,” he explains. “In the second season, I’m only shirtless in this one scene. I think two things can be true at once. That scene felt like [Lily and Santiago] earned that moment only because it showed the willingness to try to coexist and also shows that he’s still in love with her . . . but that process of doing that was interesting because you really can’t cheat me being naked. I was naked.”
Viewers who have made it through this season know that Lily and Santiago’s relationship really goes through it. But as complicated as it gets, Flynn wants audiences to ultimately take away that all romantic relationships can get hard, even when two people really love each other. And in the end, we don’t always get the fairy tale we dreamed of, and that’s just real life.
Flynn explains that in many ways Lily and Santiago were mirrors for each other. They helped each other see their own shortcomings. Lily helped Santiago get out of his shell and he helped bring her back to earth. Even when relationships don’t work out, there’s always a lesson to be learned.
“People sometimes don’t end up where they’re going to be and it’s frustrating,” Flynn says. “That’s reality, and I think most of our lives we’ve been in that position where we have had to make decisions that were life-changing and have had to choose yourself or somebody else.”