Lifetime has an early Christmas present for fans of its annual holiday event, It’s a Wonderful Lifetime. Unveiling its 2020 slate of original holiday movies, which traditionally air from October through December, the network placed itself firmly on the side of representation and inclusion with a diverse line-up of films, including its very first LGBTQ Christmas romance. “We are thrilled to continue our legacy of creating a holiday destination that is welcoming to all at Lifetime,” Amy Winter, Executive Vice President and Head of Programming, Lifetime and LMN, remarked in a press release provided to Yahoo Entertainment. “With more new movies than any one cable network for streamer, I couldn’t be prouder of the incredible talent joining us in front of, and behind the camera, on these new holiday movies.”
By proclaiming themselves as “welcoming to all” — and, more importantly, creating programming to match that declaration — Lifetime is clearly drawing a distinction between itself and its holiday programming rival, the Hallmark Channel. Last month, Hallmark announced its own lineup of holiday movies, but was immediately called out on social media for its long history of excluding gay characters and storylines. “Diversity and inclusion is a top priority for us and we look forward to making some exciting programming announcements in the coming months, including announcements about projects featuring LGBTQ storylines, characters, and actors,” George Zaralidis, vice president of network program publicity at Crown Media Family Networks, which owns the Hallmark Channel, wrote in a statement to Yahoo Entertainment at the time. “We are committed to creating a Hallmark experience where everyone feels welcome.”
To date, Hallmark has yet to share any additional details about those promised LGBTQ storylines. Hallmark is also facing a potential boycott from One Million Moms, a division of the Christian-right American Family Association, which previously issued a boycott warning in 2019 after Hallmark aired a Zola commercial featuring a same-sex wedding. The commercial was pulled from the air but eventually restored following a public outcry and an apology from Hallmark.
In contrast to Hallmark, Lifetime has released the full plot synopsis for its LGBTQ movie, The Christmas Set Up. Written by regular holiday movie scribe, Michael J. Murray, the yet-to-be-cast film follows New York City lawyer, Hugo, whose Milwaukee-based mother, Kate, conspires to make a love connection between him and his one-time high school crush, Patrick. The film fulfills a push towards diversity that Lifetime made with its 2019 movie, Twinkle all the Way, which featured the first same-sex kiss in the network’s history. Twitter made it clear that it doesn’t want to wait until Christmas to see The Christmas Set Up.
“Because at Lifetime, the holidays truly are for everyone.” 🏳️🌈🎄— StarryMag (@StarryMag) August 3, 2020
“The Christmas Set Up” is @lifetimetv’s first movie with an #LGBTQ romance as the lead story.
Thank you Lifetime for this important message you are sending and standing by. Inclusivity and LGBTQ stories matter.👏🏻 https://t.co/zKgDXyLfD8 pic.twitter.com/ITfnw0ysSp
Lifetime giving us its first holiday movie with a LGBTQ romance as the lead story pic.twitter.com/GYCTie0ENv— Mandi Bierly (@MandiBierly) August 3, 2020
Like @lifetimetv will always beat @hallmarkchannel in progressive movies. #Lifetime routinely shows integrated movies w/ POC in lead roles + interracial couples. #HallmarkChannel still segregates its rare Black-led movies. It's not surprising Lifetime will air a LGBTQ film first— Miss D. 📚🎀 (@bonobochick) August 3, 2020
I guess I missed that the first LGBTQ kiss in a cable Christmas movie came in a Lifetime production last year called "Twinkle All the Way." Their first Xmas romance with a gay lead couple is among the 30 (!) new Christmas movies they plan this season. Which begins in October!— Roger Catlin (@rcatlin) August 3, 2020
Well, if there's ONE good thing to come out of 2020, it's apparently the first LGBTQ+ romance in a Christmas movie from a major cable network.— JP Mangalindan (@JPManga) August 3, 2020
While The Christmas Set Up is inspiring lots of good cheer, it’s not the only reason to look forward to It’s a Wonderful Lifetime. Actress and director Jennifer Liao is helming Lifetime’s first Asian-American holiday movie, A Sugar & Spice Holiday, about a Chinese American family in small-town Maine. And Ali Stroker — who made Broadway history as the first actress in a wheelchair to win a Tony Award — will star in Christmas Ever After as a romance novelist who strikes sparks with the handsome bed-and-breakfast owner, played by Daniel Di Tomasso. Other notable titles include the Tiffany Haddish-produced Christmas Unwrapped, and former teen heartthrobs Melissa Joan Hart and Jason Priestley striking sparks in Dear Christmas.
AHHHH YESSS!!— Rachael Ellenbogen (@TheRachaelE) August 3, 2020
LEAD LGBTQ romance on Lifetime this Christmas! So, so amazing. And a flick centered on an Asian American family!
Let's gooo👏 https://t.co/sggKLI2fCs
Lifetime giving us lead LGBTQ holiday romance and story centered on Asian family is fantastic news, and very worthy of attention, but don't overlook the Ali Stroker announcement. Texted wheelchair-using, Christmas-movie-loving friend, and it made them cryhttps://t.co/m2atOQVwmB— Ho! Ho! Holiday Viewing! (@SleepyKittyPaw) August 3, 2020
Never let it be said that Lifetime isn’t doing its part to make the holidays the most wonderful time of the year.
It’s a Wonderful Lifetime begins in October on Lifetime
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