culture club

What to Watch: Gay holiday romance, Clüsterfünke-ing Christmas and a Queerty Exclusive

Single All The Way (L-R). Philemon Chambers as Nick, Michael Urie as Peter, in Single All The Way. Cr. Philippe Bosse/Netflix © 2021

Whatever your entertainment needs, we got your back (and hopefully your mind) with Queerty’s weekly “Culture Club” column with some of the highlights of new releases, streaming shows, classics worth revisiting, and what to drink while you watch.

The Sweet: Single All the Way

Michael Urie (Ugly Betty) and newcomer Philemon Chambers head up this new Netflix film which sees the streaming giant get into the queer holiday rom-com game. The movie follows Peter (Urie), a successful photographer spending another Christmas single, much to the chagrin of his parents (Kathy Najimy and Barry Bostwick). To help smooth over the holidays, Peter invites his bestie/roommate Nick (Chambers) back as a boyfriend substitute. Matters get even more complicated when Peter’s mom wants to set him up with a handsome personal trainer (Luke Mcfarlane), and when Peter’s nutty aunt Sandy (Jennifer Coolidge) enlists the family in town Christmas pageant.

Single All the Way isn’t the kind of movie to watch for plot twists—chances are, you can predict how it all ends already. It does, however, still feel refreshing to see a queer couple included in a holiday fairytale romance, and one that features such talented performers to boot. Whoever thought of casting Najimy and Coolidge as sisters should win a medal—the pair are terrific together, and get the movie’s biggest laugh lines. Chambers and Urie—both gay in real life—have a natural, warm chemistry together, and the warm & fuzzy holiday scenery makes us feel, well, warm & fuzzy. It’s a sweet movie to watch with cocoa and gingerbread in hand…with or without someone to share it with.

December 2 on Netflix.

The Skewer: A Clüsterfünke Christmas

SNL alums Ana Gasteyer and Rachel Dratch penned this Comedy Central holiday romance, a send-up of the saccharine holiday romances peddled by Hallmark, et. al. Vella Lovell stars as Holly, a big city real estate agent tasked with buying a picturesque, New England inn and turning it into a mega ski resort. Upon arriving in said village, she crosses paths with Frank (Cheyenne Jackson, in full lumberjack mode), a hunky local son, and sparks fly. But could she really give up her career for small-town love? Stressing out, she consults with the nerdy, effeminate Percy (Nils Hognsted), a man that owns a shop called “The Closet” and inexplicably married to his high school sweetheart.

Call it the Austin Powers of holiday movies.

With Gasteyer and Dratch at the typewriter, A Clüsterfünke Christmas wins some very big laughs as it roasts holiday movie cliches: heavy-handed product placement, low budgets, Slavic princes, Santa’s lost relatives and actors that sound mysteriously Canadian all get parodied here. Lovell, Jackson, Hognstead, etc. are all in on the joke too, and get ample chance to show off their own gifts for comedy. In a weird twist, A Clüsterfünke Christmas actually manages to tug at the heartstrings too. By the time Holly & Frank save Christmas, we couldn’t help but feel a bit of that warm holiday glow (see above). Watching gay performers Hognstead and Jackson makes for a great holiday treat, and the comedy of Gasteyer and Dratch is always in season.

December 4 on Comedy Central.

The Sing-Along: Annie Live

Musical theatre queens, start your swooning: NBC’s live musicals return post-pandemic with a staple of regional theatre productions and many a gay kid’s playlist: Annie. Newcomer Celina Smith takes on the role of the plucky title orphan, while Harry Connick, Jr. goes bald as Daddy Warbucks. The real queer appeal, however, comes in the form of Titus Burgess as the villainous Rooster, as well as gay favs Taraji P. Henson and Megan Hilty as Miss Hannigan and Lily St. Regis, respectively. Of course, we haven’t seen the live production since it hasn’t happened yet, though given the pedigree of the performers involved, we expect a rollicking good time. Besides, how could we ever pass up the opportunity to see Henson, Burgess and Hilty belting out “Easy Street” together?

December 2 on NBC.

The Diva: Mariah’s Christmas – The Magic Continues

Mariah Carey returns to the stage for a holiday concert…or should we say a full-blown holiday extravaganza. The Magic Continues sees Carey revisit some of her biggest holiday hits, including “All I Want for Christmas is You” (natch), as well as some new material, namely the Christmas single “Fall in Love at Christmas.” Much as with Sarah Brightman’s concert last week, The Magic Continues is best enjoyed with holiday wine in hand, or as background to a festive gathering with friends. Lush production numbers, backup dancers, and sparkles galore help augment Mariah’s powerhouse vocals. For anyone that can’t attend Radio City Music Hall’s annual holiday bash, this makes a terrific substitute.

December 3 on AppleTV+.

The Exclusive: With Love

Amazon unveils this new romantic sitcom later this month, from One Day at a Time creator Gloria Calderón Kellett. In preparation, we here at Queerty have secured an exclusive new clip from the show. The scene in question finds Jorge Jr. (Mark Indelicato) en route to introduce his new boyfriend Henry (Vincent Rodriguez III) to the family on Christmas Eve, and getting some advice from his sister Lily (Emeraude Toubia) and her would-be boyfriend Nick (Desmond Chiam). Henry can’t quite grasp how Jorge & Lily’s family can be OK with having a gay family member…but not hearing the truth about not going to church. Talk about the need for some divine intervention.

December 17 on Amazon Prime Video.

The Sip: Hard Hot Cider

via Shutterstock.

As the autumn leaves give way to snow-capped trees, we suggest taking advantage of the timing for a special holiday season sip. Simply combine some hot unfiltered hot cider with some spiced rum for a savory seasonal treat.

  • Unfiltered apple cider
  • Spiced rum
  • Whole cloves
  • Cinnamon (stick or ground)

Heat cider in a mug with cinnamon and cloves. Let steep several minutes. Add rum to taste and serve.