Welcome to Screen Gems, our weekend dive into queer and queer-adjacent titles of the past that deserve a watch or a re-watch.
The Heart Stringy: The Christmas House
2020 saw peddlers of Christmas romance–Hulu, Lifetime, Paramount+, etc.–racing to get into the queer inclusion game. That included the Hallmark Channel, the network arguably responsible for making the holiday fairytale genre into a cottage industry. For their bid at an LGBTQ Christmas film, Hallmark provided The Christmas House, starring openly gay actor and Hallmark movie alum, Jonathan Bennett.
The movie centers on longtime married couple Bill (Treat Williams) and Phylis (Sharon Lawrence) as they prep to welcome their sons Mike (Robert Buckley) and Brandon (Bennett) home for the holidays. Brandon and his husband Jake (Brad Harder) dream of finally adopting a child, while Mike finds himself attracted to high school friend Andi (Ana Ayora). Will all their dreams come true by Christmas?
Do you really have to ask?
These mass-produced holiday movies aren’t exactly designed to challenge viewers or to innovate the art of cinema. For lovers of the genre, that’s a comfort: these holiday movies are modern fairy tales, a mix of sweetness and hope with a dash of holiday magic. They don’t reflect life in the world so much as offer an illusion of another, happier one where dreams come true, and everyone has a happy ending. Still, we award credit when due: seeing a same-sex couple, even in a supporting role, does mark a new level of inclusion for Hallmark movies, and hey, we like believing our dreams will come true in the end too.
So, grab some cocoa, a blanket, and someone beautiful. Lite the tree and the fireplace. Take a couple hours to enjoy the sweet and simple world of The Christmas House, and sigh at seeing a handsome, happy gay couple as part of the holiday magic.
Given that Hallmark will also release The Christmas House 2 this December 18, now seems a perfect time to get caught up.
Streams on Hallmark, YouTube & VUDU.