Lifetime makes holiday history with its first LGBTQ and Asian-American Christmas movies

Ethan Alter
·Senior Writer, Yahoo Entertainment
·5 min read

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.

GLENDALE, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 09:  (L - R) Actors Kim Fields, Jaleel White, Kyla Pratt and Percy Daggs III attend Say "Santa!" with It's A Wonderful Lifetime photo experience at Glendale Galleria on November 09, 2019 in Glendale, California. (Photo by Michael Tullberg/Getty Images)
Kim Fields, Jaleel White, Kyla Pratt and Percy Daggs III attend a Lifetime Christmas event in 2019. All four actors appeared in the network's 'It's a Wonderful Liftetime' line-up of holiday movies. (Photo by Michael Tullberg/Getty Images)

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.

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.

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

Read more from Yahoo Entertainment