After two seasons of The L Word: Generation Q, it’s clear that fans can’t get enough of Arienne Mandi as the striking and confident Dani Núñez. For those of you who have a Dani-shaped hole in your heart, Mandi stars in Hallmark’s Love, Classified, a charming queer rom-com that spins the genre slightly on its head.
Love, Classified, which premiered April 16, starts in typical rom-com fashion, with a shot of New York City and an endearing voice-over from romance novelist Emilia Bloom (Melora Hardin), who is on her way home to visit her children under the pretense of a book signing in their hometown. But during the opening voice-over, Bloom sets up the film as being different than the average romantic comedy.
“Romance isn’t all about cleverly plotted meet cutes and low stakes misunderstandings easily resolved over the course of a musical montage,” Bloom laughs. “Don’t get me wrong. I love those stories. But I think there’s room for other types of love stories too.”
And that’s when we meet Frankie (Mandi), who is single and skeptical about dating via the apps. One of her friends shows her “Classifie,” an app that allows users to post classified ads about what they are seeking in life, whether that’s a romantic connection or just a friend.
Frankie is a bit cynical, but her curiosity is peaked when she sees a post reading “ready to bloom where I’m planted, creative soul seeks deeper connections.” Ultimately, she responds to the ad and meets up with its author, a woman named Taylor (Katherine McNamara) who owns a plant store in the neighborhood. What follows is a romantic comedy with a lot of heart and natural chemistry between Mandi and McNamara. The film also focuses on Bloom’s tumultuous relationship with her children and her own budding love life.
For me, the most engaging aspect of Love, Classified was its authentic story. The film was written by Lynn Sternberger, who is part of the LGBTQ+ community, and that couldn’t have been more evident during the film.
In one scene, Frankie wonders about whether her meet-up with Taylor was a date or not a date, which is something I’ve experienced more times than I can count. Sternberger has also said that the “Classifie” app was inspired by Lex, an app for queer people that similarly allows folks to post classified ads about what they are looking for.
The story also didn’t fall into tired tropes about queer sexuality. Though Taylor hasn’t dated women in the past, Frankie doesn’t make a big deal of it. Relatedly, Taylor’s lack of experience with women does not become an internal conflict, as it all too often is in other lesbian films.
By hiring a queer writer for this film, Hallmark puts itself on the path of being forgiven after it pulled commercials featuring a lesbian couple in 2019, though it later apologized and reinstated the ads. Since then, the channel has also aired several LGBTQ-inclusive films, including The Christmas House and Every Time a Bell Rings.
While the film certainly won me over as a queer viewer, at the end of the day, I’m not sure it strayed away from the romantic comedy genre, as Bloom promised during the film’s opening. That being said, if you’re finding yourself missing Mandi in her role as Dani in Gen Q or wanting a cute queer romantic comedy that’s not too clichéd, Love, Classified will probably have your heart, as it did mine.