The thing about The Thing About Harry

The Thing About Harry may seem like your average romance flick, and it is, and that’s also what makes it noteworthy. In The Thing About Harry, boy meets boy, and it happens without the typical tragic backstory, emotional scarring, violence, death and disease, or personal; familiar; and societal disapproval and alienation that usually feature so prominently in gay-interest movies. Instead, the movie’s conflict comes from the main characters’ own insecurities and immaturity. — you know, like in your typical straight romance movie.

This is quite a unique plot and perspective for a gay-interest movie. Movies focusing on gay characters tend to be tragedies. The movies seldom have a happy ending, and the two lovers often don’t end up together. I’m not going to go into the historical history and context that lead filmmakers down this path in this article, however. I want to celebrate the normality of The Thing About Harry!

Where the movie falls short isn’t in the relatively thin plot or its excellent soundtrack. It’s with its limited distribution. The Thing About Harry was released on Valentine’s Day 2020 as a TV movie only available for streaming on Freeform. It was also available on Hulu for about three months after its release. Freeform, the streaming service, is only available to U.S. audiences. The movie isn’t available through any other streaming or rental services. It’s not available on Blu-Ray or DVD.

It has been over a year since the movie premiered in the U.S., but the film has no international distribution. The movie isn’t an unfortunate victim of the COVID-19 pandemic either. As a direct-to-streaming movie, its distribution isn’t dependent on the cinemas being open.

Unless you happen to live in the U.S. (or have a U.S. IP address …), you just can’t watch the movie. I respect creators’ rights to be wacky and corny with their distribution models. Except that this movie isn’t a one-off art film meant to be experienced while hanging upside down by your toes in a dark room in a museum. It’s a Hallmark-esque commercial production produced by a Walt Disney Company subsidiary aiming to rake in the dough!

I don’t understand why the movie isn’t being distributed as widely as possible, at least for the international market. U.S. production companies frequently “dump” international distribution rights on TV shows and movies on Netflix, even when they don’t put them on Netflix domestically.

It’s outright depressing that people around the world can’t enjoy this movie. The movie’s simple premise, twink meets jock (but without the emotional and societal baggage), could have been a ray of happiness to many. At least, it could be a ray of hope for the future to those who’ve been stuck alone during the pandemic year.

There might be a hint in Freeform’s YouTube channel, though. The trailer for The Thing About Harry features licensed music, and the trailer isn’t available outside the U.S. However, there are several sneak-peek clips (like the one below) from the movie that don’t prominently feature licensed music, and they’re available worldwide. I believe the music featured in the movie might partially be to blame for its limited international distribution. The movie features an excellent soundtrack (listen on Spotify,) but licensing music — especially internationally — can be challenging.

Promotional clip from The Thing About Harry

This is just a theory, though. I went through a random selection of recent Freeform originals, and I didn’t find any of them available outside the U.S. It might seem like the company exclusively caters to the U.S. market; leaving money on the table from its potential international audience. If we are living in the late stages of capitalism, the least we can expect is that faceless global corporations let us give them some money to watch a movie. Without having to relocate to another continent (or use a VPN).

In the grand scheme of things, especially the last year of isolation and loneliness for many, a single movie isn’t all that important. The Thing About Harry is just a light-hearted and cute movie featuring a gay couple and a happy ending. That might be exactly what the world needs more of right now, though.