There's been some pretty stellar LGBT representation on TV in recent years, but don't underestimate the power of a good web series. This summer, we were introduced to Danny the Manny, a "nearly perfect" series written and directed by Mike Roma consisting of five short episodes that follow Danny, a recent college graduate struggling with his sense of purpose. He becomes a manny, mentor, and friend to Quinn, a six-year-old who likes dressing in his mother's clothes. What transpires is addicting and pleasantly deep exploration of gender and sexuality identification in children and adults, and how difficult decision-making can be when it comes to early, progressive development. Leading the series as "Danny" is Patrick Reilly, an openly gay young actor who's made Danny such an easy person to fall in love with and whose career is taking off in a big way. While Danny the Manny has wrapped, for now, Patrick will soon be seen on the big screen in Roma's Dating My Mother. First, you absolutely must catch up on the Manny action (we've got the first episode below!), then get to know the show's endlessly charming leading man, Patrick Reilly!
First of all, welcome to New York!
You just moved from Los Angeles. Congratulations on all your amazing success - you just got finished filming a movie. Can you tell us about that?
Absolutely. The movie is called Dating My Mother, written and directed by an amazing guy named Mike Roma (Danny the Manny creator) who I went to school with at USC. He was in the film program while I was in the acting program, and throughout college, we made a lot of small things for school and we developed a really good relationship there. After we graduated, Mike was like, ‘Hey, I have this small web series that I’d love for you to audition for.’ I went in, I loved it, I really related to it. I think that he vibed with me and so he put me in it.
And that, of course, is Danny the Manny, which everyone should check out.
It’s a sweet five episode, five-minute episode each web series about a manny who finds out that the boy that he mannies who’s six years old starts wearing women’s clothing. And it’s kind of like, what happens? How does he explain it to his mom? Dealing with the topic of queerness is more accepted these days, but it’s kind of like, how do we manage the discussion you have to have now with your children about how blurred the lines are, and how queer is an over-arcing term that encapsulates so many different identities? So that’s kind of what it’s about and it’s really sweet and really funny and you should check it out!
And that led to Dating My Mother.
We got some good feedback, we got a lot of views, and Mike had written Dating My Mother prior to doing that. It’s a similar story with a similar character; his name’s Danny and he’s just gotten back from school, graduated college, and he goes home to live with his mom for a little bit to kind of get his bearings. He’s at a loss of what to do with his life, and both he and his mom start dating using dating sites. She’s using a very loosely based on match.com website, he’s using a very loosely based on Tinder app. It’s about their relationship and how it unfolds, and how you can feel so connected to a parent and at the same time it feels like when you’re a single parent and they have to move forward with their own intimate love life, how it can feel like you’re breaking up with each other. It’s sweet and funny and has so much heart, and Kathryn Erbe (Law & Order: Criminal Intent) plays the mom and she’s a dream.
How can we see Dating my Mother?
Right now it’s in the editing process. It should be done relatively soon - we’re hoping to get into the festival circuit and from there that distribution bit is at the hands of somebody else.
Ya hear that, world?
Wink wink! But yeah. Hopefully, by the end of next year, you’ll be able to see it.
Danny the Manny is just so charming, and there are a lot of very real themes. What’s it like working with a young child on LGBT themes?
It’s so amazing, [Bradley’s] six and he has done more work on television than pretty much anyone I know from my age to thirty years old. So I was like, ‘Man, you are the professional here!’ It’s so funny when you talk about children as actors, because they have such a natural affinity for play and they’re not thinking so much, and that’s really exactly what it’s like. He never thought it was weird, he never questioned it, he just jumped right in, and he really genuinely asked the question, “What’s gay? What is that? I want to know more about that.” And he was so game for dressing up in Mom’s clothes, he was so game for makeup. He just had such a great energy about him.
What was it about Danny that immediately spoke to you personally?
It’s so bizarre that I truly feel like Mike and I are the same person a lot of the time. We are different, of course, but we have so many similarities in our view of the world and the way we carry ourselves, so I immediately was like, ‘Oh, the way in which this person on the page speaks, I feel like I talk that way.’ I couldn’t have felt worse about myself as a person getting out of school. I will never forget the right after college six months where you’re like “What am I doing? Who Am I?” I think that there’s that in Danny, and then there’s also, “What is my greater purpose?” In Danny the Manny, he struggles with both of those things. He struggles with being a selfish person, he struggles with being an insensitive person, but at the same time, he’s working through those things because he’s at that point in his life where he’s really transitioning from this insensitive, selfish young person into a more adult, mature person. He starts to care about this boy and realizes that it’s not about defining who he is because maybe Danny defines himself as gay, but it’s more about being open with him and talking with him and maybe wanting to serve a greater purpose and be the spearhead for the LGBT cause.
Have you heard from families that have seen the show?
Yes. I think that it really positions itself to be a great thing for people that live in suburbia, specifically, I’d say mothers. Those are the people who have been responding to it really well, and lots of young people - not just people who identify as queer. So many web series and content from young creators have so much passion in it, which is so amazing, but sometimes it can really beat you over the head with a message or try to impose itself on you. I think what’s kind of lovely about Danny the Manny, and what I’ve heard lots of people tell me and Mike, is that it’s sort of a slice of life piece that is dealing with kind of actually this monumental issue, but it’s not making it this monumental issue.
Can we expect to potentially see more Danny the Manny?
Yeah, potentially! It’s all kind of up to the creative mind of Mike. But we’ve been getting so much response of “We want to see more of this!” So we’ll see. But truly, I think if you want to see more of him, then watching Dating My Mother is going to be the next step.
Lightning round! Favorite movie?
Favorite musical artist?
Right now I’m obsessed with The 1975.
Favorite vacation spot?
Honestly, McCall, Idaho. It’s beautiful there.
And, very importantly, what Hogwarts house are you in?
I’m a Gryffindor! I did the test. And I also know my Patronus. It says that my Patronus is a ‘swift,’ but it’s basically just a pigeon. I think they totally made it up on the website. It’s literally just a pigeon.