Striking a blow to schumultz-peddling rival Hallmark, Lifetime has announced the cast of its first LGBTQ-themed Christmas film The Christmas Setup. In an adorable twist, the film will cast real-life husbands Ben Lewis and Blake Lee in the leads.
The Christmas Setup will follow the usual Lifetime holiday formula, albeit with a gay twist: a successful New York lawyer returns to his native Wisconsin to spend the holidays with friends. There, his meddlesome matchmaking mom decides to set her oh-so-single son up with his secret high school crush, who has since also come out of the closet. Hijinks and romance ensue, as the two find love over the holiday season.
Fans will recognize Lewis from his role as William Clayton on Arrow, while a keen eye will recognize Lee from the TV series Fam and Parks & Recreation. Veteran comedienne Fran Drescher will play the role of the matchmaker mom, while actress Ellen Wong will play the best friend role.
The announcement comes at a pivotal moment for Lifetime. Like it’s chief rival network Hallmark, the channel has built a huge following around its deluge of yearly holiday movies, which typically begin airing in November until the first week of January. Both Hallmark and Lifetime have endured recent criticism for the outrageous formula plots and a general lack of diversity in casting. That criticism runs particularly hot when it comes to queer representation: LGBTQ characters have been all but ignored in films past. Public outcry has prompted both Hallmark and Lifetime to announce that both networks would feature queer storylines, prompting a race of sorts between the two broadcasters to feature an LGBTQ-themed Christmas movie first. At the moment, it looks like Lifetime has the edge.
The Christmas Setup will air this fall during Lifetime’s holiday movie block, which kicks off October 23.