Lifetime has taken LGBT representation to the next level by casting a real married gay couple in the lead roles for its first LGBT-themed holiday movie this year.
In a press release on Monday, the channel announced its “It’s a Wonderful Lifetime” holiday movie slate, chief among them being “The Christmas Setup” starring actors Ben Lewis and Blake Lee, who are both married in real life. The movie will also be written and directed by members of the LGBTQ community.
“Known for filling the screen with fun, romantic, inclusive and relatable movies, the network announced today the casting for ‘The Christmas Setup’–the network’s first holiday movie with a lead LGBTQ storyline, written and directed by members of the LGBTQ community, and featuring two gay lead actors who are married in real life,” said the announcement.
Furthermore, Lifetime will also be featuring its first Asian-American family with the movie “Sugar & Spice Holiday” directed, written, and cast by Asians.
Amy Winter, EVP and Head of Programming, Lifetime and LMN, said the channel’s holiday programming should reflect the world “we live in.”
“The world we create on camera should reflect the world we live in,” said Winter. “‘The Christmas Setup’ and ‘A Sugar & Spice Holiday’ are important additions to the ‘It’s a Wonderful Lifetime’ slate because they continue our effort to tell the stories of the diverse communities represented by our viewers. Our hope with these inclusive films and others is that people will see themselves while enjoying universally relatable holiday romances.”
Lifetime billed “The Christmas Setup” as a “feel-good LGBTQ holiday romance” that will also star Fran Drescher (“The Nanny”).
“‘The Christmas Setup’ follows the story of New York lawyer Hugo (Lewis) who heads to Milwaukee with his best friend Madelyn (Wong) to spend the holidays with his mom Kate (Drescher), who is also in charge of the local Christmas celebrations,” said the announcement. “Ever the matchmaker, Kate arranges for Hugo to run into Patrick (Lee), Hugo’s high school friend and secret crush, who has recently returned after a successful stint in Silicon Valley. As they enjoy the local holiday festivities together, Hugo and Patrick’s attraction to each other is undeniable and it looks as though Kate’s Santa-style matchmaking is a success. But as Hugo receives word of a big promotion requiring a move to London, he must decide what is most important to him.”
This past August, the Hallmark Channel featured its first same-sex wedding after igniting controversy among its fanbase last Christmas when it aired an ad from the wedding company Zola that showed a lesbian kiss. Though Hallmark initially pulled the ad, the company immediately backtracked on its decision after facing an online backlash. In the subsequent apology, Hallmark promised that it would work with the organization GLAAD to better foster a culture of inclusivity in its programming.