Review of “Christmas House”

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For those familiar with Hallmark Channel, hearing that its annual 2020 Christmas movie lineup includes a movie with a high-profile gay couple might sound like a Christmas miracle. The home and family channel is known for its cheesy Christmas movies which begin airing every October. They all follow a similar plot that ends with a simple but polite straight couple falling in love during the heat of the holiday season. Every family in these movies looks like it’s straight out of a milk commercial – usually white, always bland, practically the Google Image result for “family Christmas stock photo” – and every little town looks like it’s straight out of a snow globe. But this year, Hallmark’s new Christmas movies are a little less seamless than viewers expect.

The Hallmark Channel has released its first Christmas movie where one of the central couples is made up of two men – The Christmas houseNovember 22. Like most of the channel’s movies, it features long-forgotten actor Jonathan Bennett from mean girls and A tree hillit’s Robert Buckley. And The Christmas house isn’t the only Hallmark movie anomaly this year. The channel also publishes Love, Lights, Hanukkah! on December 12, centered around the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah – another first for the channel.

Hallmark films are generally not explicitly Christian although they are centered around a Christian holiday, with most films emphasizing themes of family, love and togetherness rather than the birth of Jesus. . But the films nonetheless attract a Christian audience. Considering this, airing a movie with a gay couple was a bit risky for the channel. Some viewers in particular expressed their opposition to the film.

It seems that the channel tried to entice its audience to see a gay couple on screen by making the characters and the plot as enjoyable as possible. The Christmas house tells the story of two brothers, Mike (Robert Buckley) and Brandon (Jonathan Bennett), who return home for Christmas to help their aging parents pull out all the stops to decorate their house for Christmas one last time before the house is over. be sold. Brandon takes his husband Jake (Brad Harder) with him, while Mike fulfills the typical role of a work-focused, big-city main character who gets a second chance to be with his hometown sweetheart Andi. (Ana Ayora), the next lovely girl. carries.

Surprisingly, the Hallmark Channel handles gay representation in a refreshing and heartwarming way. Brandon and Jake’s subplot in the film is about their efforts to adopt a baby boy, not the struggles of dating his family, unlike so many LGBTQ+ films today. Brandon and Jake don’t have to go through homophobic situations for the drama, but the film shows how difficult it can be to go through the adoption process.

Overall, Brandon and Jake aren’t treated any differently than any other heterosexual couple in the Hallmark movie would be treated. They are allowed to engage in near-constant PDA and even share an on-screen kiss. In fact, the couple is never referred to as a gay couple, and the word “gay” is never used throughout the film. That doesn’t mean Hallmark is afraid of the word, though, given that in another of their new movies this year, A Christmas tree grows in Coloradoa secondary character comes out to the protagonist saying he is gay.

Beyond LGBTQ+ representation, the film also shows ethnic diversity. Mike’s love interest Andi is played by Colombian-American actress Ana Ayora, and the film acknowledges Andi’s ethnicity and culture by subtly incorporating it into the plot. Midway through the film, all of the main characters gather at Andi’s mother’s house for a “tamale night”, where Andi’s mother and Mike speak to each other in Spanish. Hallmark films have depicted interracial and inter-ethnic relationships before, but rarely, and same-race relationships comprised of people of color are only marginally more common. This newfound focus on inclusivity could mean a wide expansion of the channel’s audience — people who once shunned Hallmark because of its Christian overtones and lack of diversity could give its films a second chance.

The theme of The Christmas house maintains tradition and relationships despite life changes. Mike and Brandon’s parents have to figure out how to stay together now that they are both retired and have different interests, Mike has to figure out what to do with his life after losing his job in LA, Brandon and Jake have to get together. prepare for what future Christmases will be like when they have a child and the whole family has to sell their old “Christmas house”. Much like the characters in the movie, the Hallmark Channel adapts to changes in its content and strives to maintain that Hallmark feel in their movies. So far it looks like they are doing a good job.

The Christmas house feels like a natural progression in Hallmark adapting to modern times and attitudes. The plot is still wonderfully predictable, the characters are still basic and simple. The end of the film always fills the viewer’s heart with that characteristic warmth of Christmas. All that’s changed is that kids and families watching Hallmark this holiday season can see themselves represented in a family-friendly Christmas movie for the first time.

* The thumbnail of the article is in the public domain.

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