Last year, Hallmark aired a commercial depicting a lesbian couple’s wedding ceremony where the pair locked lips. It was for a Zola ad about, y’know, wedding planning, and it meant to feature all kinds of couples (which should always be the case). Like clockwork, this led the vocal conservative group One Million Moms pressuring the network to pull the commercials where the brides kissed.
The execs caved. How dare the overly-white and wholesome Hallmark Channel be more inclusive???? Hallmark ultimately issued an apology and vowed to work with GLAAD, but the damage was done. And all this was over a commercial, so you can imagine what the dissenters would’ve had to say over a damn movie.
While Netflix and Freeform have branched out and made Christmas films featuring same-sex couples, networks like Hallmark and Lifetime, which have been known to cater to conservative Christian values (Hallmark is immensely popular in red states), have fallen short of representation standards. Production on Christmas movies has increased in recent years, with 96 being produced across the various networks and streamers just last year. However, to no one’s surprise, most of the films featured white and straight couples in the leading roles.
At long last, Lifetime is changing things up this year. For the first time ever, the network is making a Christmas movie with a gay couple in the leading roles. Conservatives everywhere are probably clutching their pearls in outrage. It only took *checks the watch I’m not wearing* a million years, but as we’ve already seen with all things Hollywood, progress is so f*cking slow.
The film is called The Christmas Setup and will star real-life married couple Ben Lewis and Blake Lee. Lewis played William on Arrow for two seasons so I have a major soft spot for him. He was a bright spot and the fact that he’ll be starring alongside his real-life husband is adorable. You can’t see me, but know that I’m smiling. The icing on top of the already great cake is that Fran Drescher will star as Lewis’ onscreen mother.
The Christmas Setup’s storyline is just about what you’d expect from a holiday film. Hugo returns to Milwaukee with his BFF (Ellen Wong) for Christmas and his matchmaking mother fixes it so her son “accidentally” runs into his old crush Patrick. Christmas lights, snow, and romance will be involved, naturally. I’m not complaining because this sounds pretty cute and I think we all need some extra joy this year. So bravo to Lifetime for getting ahead of Hallmark by finally including a gay couple. It’s been a long time coming and hopefully this is only just the beginning.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that Lifetime is ALSO producing a Christmas movie focused on an Asian-American family. It’s another first for the network, which has not been the go-to place for diversity. A Sugar & Spice Holiday will star Jacky Lai, Tony Giroux and Mulan’s Tzi Ma. Lai will play Suzie, an up-and-coming architect who’s guilted into baking the way her late grandmother used to. Together with Giroux’s Billy (who I assume is her love interest), Suzie finds a way to bring something new to her family’s baking traditions after entering (you guessed it) a baking contest. Let the Christmas fluff begin!
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