I always preface these posts with a note that I’m not the Christmas target audience. I’m Jewish and I watch one Christmas movie. Be that as it may, I do understand the mainstream, mass appeal of these simple, holiday magic romcoms. And in the years since we started this site, I’m very happy to see that more holiday shows with more queers.
While there are just over ten right now, the reality is that there are more than ten! And more and more coming around. Some are real movies, which we don’t cover, but for TV series and TV movies… If we counted non TV stuff, we could maybe even hit 20, which considering there aren’t any before 2019 is a marvel.
- “Merry Happy Whatever” (Netflix Series, 2019)
Billed as a Dennis Quaid series, it has to do with a strong-willed, traditionalist family patriarch and his family who is changing every day. It comes to a head when his youngest daughter brings home her California boyfriend.
The majority of the series is about the dad and the boyfriend sorting out where they fit in these days, but along the background is Ashley Tisdale and her character’s coming out story.
More or less, it’s a by-the-book sitcom, and the only real novelty is that it’s themed. The series only got one season, so you can watch all 8 episodes pretty fast.
- “Ghosting: The Spirit of Christmas” (Freeform TV Movie, 2019)
This is hands down one of the weirder Christmas stories I’ve seen. The plot is that Jess (played by Aisha Dee) has a great first date with Ben, and then dies in a freak accident. At first, only Jess’ BFF Kara can see her. Kara happens to be dating Mae, Ben’s sister.
The reason this story is weird is how it ends. I honestly was not expecting that kind of a happy ending.
Anyway. Much like the previous series on this list, the queers are pretty incidental. And unlike MHW, they don’t even get a whole plot line.
- “The Christmas Lottery” (BET TV Movie, 2020)
A father wants his feuding daughters to come home for the holidays for a big announcement … he won the lottery! But his wife, who has dementia lost it. This stars Reginald VanJohnson who’s been in so many things and is great actor, so it really makes for a fun movie.
There’s a lot to unpack on this one, most notably is that the sisters didn’t come to Deidre and Belinda’s wedding! I mean, what’s up with that?
- “Christmas With the Darlings” (Hallmark TV Movie, 2020)
Katarina Law (yes) plays a lawyer who helps out someone who’s taking his orphaned niece and nephew in. Her BFF surgeon, Zoe, is a lesbian, and has a crush on a local barista.
Sadly the lesbians don’t even hold hands (they hold the same kid’s hands though). This is near impossible to find online these days.
- “You Make It Feel Like Christmas” (Lifetime TV Movie, 2020)
If you can’t find this, look for “A Christmas Mission” – they renamed it. Aaron’s going to bring his ex home for the holidays. Her house, not his. He drags his cousin along, for no obvious reason, at least until we meet Emma’s BFF and co-owner, Liz, who is hella gay.
Yes. That happens. Sarah (the cousin) even runs a soup kitchen! It’s cheesy (literally) punchlines and romance.
- “A New York Christmas Wedding” (Netflix TV Movie, 2020)
This one is harder to judge. On the one hand, we get a bisexual love triangle with a queer woman wondering if things would be better if she’d confessed to her childhood crush. On the other, it’s not great acting, and it’s very much an early work. If you can push that aside and embrace the schmaltz of the holidays, though, it’s okay.
Okay is the best I can give this, thanks to the very weird abortion storyline. For this one, though, I recommend you read the review from Autostraddle before you watch it.
- “Every time a Bell Rings” (Hallmark TV Movie, 2021)
This is Hallmark’s first foray into queers with a storyline! Three sisters come home to Nachetz (which is pretty much the middle of Mississippi) after their dad died. Their dad set up one last traditional scavenger hunt for them, so them embark on a quest for the clues and find love, hope, and healing along the way.
The hunt is for a family ‘wishing bell,’ hence the title. Right.
What made this special is Ali Liebert! She finally gets to be an openly queer character on a Hallmark series! Her character has struggles, growth, and a meet cute that ends happily.
- “Santa Inc.” (HBOMax Series, 2021-)
This is a pretty odd story, about a female elf who wants to be the next Santa. A large part of the controversy about this has to do with the fact that it’s made by Jews. Also it’s pretty bawdy and honestly, a weird adult take with stop-motion like the ‘classic’ holiday fares.
One of the main characters’ BFFs is a bisexual reindeer, but that’s pretty much it. Let’s just say it’s not been well received. Rotten Tomatoes gave it a 4%.
- “A Picture Perfect Holiday” (Lifetime TV Movie, 2021)
Professional fashion photographer goes to a retreat for the holidays. She hates the holidays. Handsome wildlife photographer loves the holidays. It’s a traditional
Where the turn happens is that her lesbian BFF is also there and she (and her girlfriend) want to propose to each other in that classic lesbian trope of ‘we’re both planning to propose and surprise the other!’ but along the way, the lesbians realize the straights are not okay and play Cupid.
- “An Unexpected Christmas” (Hallmark TV Movie, 2021)
This is less well done than ETaBR (also by Hallmark). A dude’s coming home for the holidays, alone, as his family doesn’t know he broke up with his girlfriend. Guess who’s at the airport? They opt to fake a relationship which, invariably, will end with a real one. It’s Christmas, right?
The fellow’s sister is a single lesbian which, as Autostraddle pointed out, was actually rather unexpected! While she doesn’t have a whole lot of plot, I actually love the fact that she isn’t the plot. Becca’s just … gay. Whatever. No one makes a big deal. Which, honestly, is what we’ve all kind of wanted.
- “Under the Christmas Tree” (Lifetime TV Movie, 2021)
Look folks, there’s a strap-on joke in this one.
Okay okay! Alma loves Christmas. Charlie needs a tree for the governor and thinks the one in Alma’s backyard is perfect. Alma doesn’t want to chop it down. Their heart-eyes get in the way. Kisses and happy endings ensue.
Just go watch this, okay? If you’re a Christmas fan and you like Elise Bauman and Enrico Colantoni, watch it. It’s what you’re wanting.
If you ask me, having these shows is great. It’s Gay Christmas. A lot of queers end up sitting with their family, uncomfortably watching movies that don’t represent them, and here come Lifetime and Hallmark slipping in one or two (or giving them a whole plot…) and not making a fuss about it. Hopefully this eases the holidays.
Make some egg nog, tighten that harness, and enjoy your holidays folks.
As my grandmother would say, have a merry merry and happy happy!