You can decorate theatres with a variety of Christmas movies, thanks to networks that promise a bigger shot in their programming, with Lifetime, Hallmark and even Paramount on board. Lifetime has delivered a wonderful line-up of Christmas movies with a few firsts for the channel, and hopefully it won’t be the last, with a great line-up of several hosts such as Christmas Ever After and Ali Stroker’s A Sugar & Spice Holiday. The Christmas installation is presented as the channel’s first LGBTQ Christmas movie, which coincides with Hallmark’s similar attempts to diversify programming with the channel’s first LGBTQ love story in Christmas Home. Lifetime has an incredible cast: the couple Ben Lewis and Blake Lee, the iconic nannies Fran Drescher, Ellen Wong and Chad Connell.
The Christmas movie got a lot of attention, especially because of the great involvement of Lifetime. The Christmas decor was animated by a creative LGBTQ team. Lifetime’s Christmas film found this creative team in director Pat Mills, producer Larry Grimaldi and an incredible cast. The network even worked with GLAAD to ensure that the Christmas facility portrays the LGBTQ community accurately and sensitively, according to an interview with The Wrap. Amy Winter (Head of Programming at Lifetime) told The Wrap that Michael Murray made the script, which she describes as delicious, charming, warm and funny.
True love behind the scenes at Christmas
The lead roles were given to the couple Ben Lewis and Blake Lee, who called Michael Murray the casting in an interview with The Wrap.
Murray went on to say that EP Larry Grimaldi had been hoping for a real pair since before the pandemic restrictions, which he said only reinforced the conversation. Ben Lewis was last seen in the last season of Arrow, where the actor helped shape the release of his character. In an interview with Parade, Lewis revealed that he had never been on a set with so many creative people from the LGBT community, and that if they weren’t from that community, they were allies.
In the same interview with Parade, the couple announced that they have included small parts of their own relationship in their on-screen relationship. Lewis said he channeled a lot of his nervousness and awkwardness into his Hugo character, while Lee said the director told them to insert small moments and remember things like their first kiss.
Christmas Decorations is a sweet Christmas movie in which Hugo (Ben Lewis) works as a lawyer in New York and gets a promotion. An attempt to bluff can endanger his work, but all his fears come to rest when he and his best friend Madeline (Ellen Wong) return to Milwaukee to stay with her mother (a great Fran Drescher). First of all, the film presents Hugo and Madeline as the classic antithesis of their serious versus sparkling personalities. They form a great duo, the chemistry between the actors is perfect and adds an element of sweet friendship to the Christmas movie. Back home, Kate (Drescher) immediately goes looking for Hugo’s former high school lover, Patrick (Blake Lee). It begins with a wonderful series of moments ranging from the sweet to the funny to the dramatic, with the feeling of a good Christmas in the soul.
Among the pleasant moments are Patrick and Hugo’s embrace under the stars and a heartbreaking conversation between the brothers. The film also finds moments of laughter, like Hugo sliding down the stairs to open the door for Patrick.
GLAAD worked with the Christmas installation.
The return journey takes Hugo back to his teenage years, where he immediately fills his mother’s routine calendar, which bears his name and Madeline’s name under every event that takes place during their two-week visit. The Christmas setting is a hilarious romantic comedy that subtly revolves around the fact that Kate has locked up her two sons who she thinks might be the ones for her. Kate has more than a trick up her sleeve when she subtly leaves Hugo in the house to wait for the delivery of the Christmas tree, which of course turns out to be Patrick.
Blake Lee shares with Parade that Lifetime was not involved because they worked with GLAAD so that the story could be presented authentically. Ben Lewis shared with Parade the idea that there was no chemistry, and he meant not only between him and her husband, but also between Ellen Wong and himself. The actor reveals that Wong has been friends with them for over ten years and Chad Connell (who plays Lewis’ brother) for a dozen years. The chemistry between the actual couple was clear, and even Michael Murray was carried away by the nuances of their ten years together, their friendship, partnership and commitment. He couldn’t imagine the qualities the writer was talking about when he wrote the script.
A Christmas Setting is a sweet and charming film about love and family, embracing imperfection, change and following the heart. This is the first real LGBTQ holiday film, which is a very important aspect of the film and is subtly interwoven in the different moments. In a gripping scene between Patrick and Hugo, the two discuss the importance of community inclusion, which seems to be a call to action for the station itself to offer a more varied programme. Michael Murray found great responsibility in directing Lifetime’s first LGBTQ Christmas film. The screenwriter shared with The Wrap his hope of accurately depicting his own life, the LGBTQ community and the Christmas film, and he is aware of this responsibility throughout the writing process.
The author explained that the characters in A Christmas Setting all come from his own life, and spoke about his awareness of what the community represents at every moment of the writing process.
Fran Drescher on the Christmas card
As in any Christmas and romantic comedy, charming dates set the scene for Hugo and Patrick’s loved ones: a romantic and quiet moment staring at the stars, a romantic dinner at a Christmas farm and a family evening. The Christmas setting is romantic, familial and sensual, and the Christmas hours will put you in a good mood and will certainly cheer you up for the coming new year. Fran Drescher is a delight for the fans who have known her since she has been babysitting and immediately recognize her characteristic good humor and behavior that she brings at every moment.
Drescher is not satisfied with the parade on her character Kate, which she describes as very positive and strong. Kate is truly a mother who wants the best for her two sons and will do everything to subtly play matchmaker to guide her two sons to potential love and happiness.
All the good things about Fran Drescher have been said about her costumes. Blake Lee described Drescher at the parade as a warm person from the moment she arrived, and described her as so generous in her kindness and love. Ben Lewis told ET Online that Drescher is everything you want her to be, and even talked about the argument between him and Lee about whether or not to watch The Nanny for filming The Christmas Set. Lewis is intrigued by the fact that Drescher is so comfortable with who she is that no one will date Fran and be disappointed by her.
A second love story blossoms between brother Hugo and Madeleine (Ellen Wong), who immediately befriends Aiden, who has returned home after six months in Germany. Aidan (Chad Connell) and Hugo are not as close as they used to be because of the distance between them, but the two actors bring a gentle depth to the brothers’ relationship. The Christmas film is about finding new ways to hug, where family and home are intertwined. Just like the classic Lifetime, the film contains a touch of drama, because Hugo is faced with a decision when he gets a promotion and learns that his company is going to send him to London, England. There is a downside to this promotion, because Patrick doesn’t even want to enter into a holiday romance with Hugo and discovers sooner than expected that he is in love with him.
The film is charming and enchanted by the happiness that makes everyone smile.
Christmas installation gives hope for performance
The return home brought Hugo back to earlier aspects of his childhood: the warmth of his mother, the reunion with Patrick, the joy of his hometown and the pleasure he found in working with wood while helping his father. The Christmas movie starts with Hugo, determined to get a promotion, but shown as overworked and too serious, and described by his best friend as stressed. The reunion with Patrick is more than a search for love, it’s up to Hugo to discover himself out of love and to know who he really wants to be in the next chapter of his life. Michael Murray told The Wrap that it is important that the drag queen club at the end of the day think about diversity and inclusion in the origins of the players.
He adds a subtle shot for a quiet background scene in the most dramatic moment of the film between Hugo and Patrick, who finds the one who decides to leave.
Ben Lewis expressed his great hope that this is only the beginning of Lifetime and the Christmas movies. The actor expressed this hope in an interview with ET Online and said that he hopes that the fans of life watching the film will embrace the love story. The actor also expressed the hope that this will deepen the performance for years to come for LGBTQ people, people with colour, trans people and anyone who needs a voice. The actor believes that everyone deserves the escape and representation that can be found in stories like this. In the same interview, Blake Lee goes on to say that several films have been made on film this year and that other actors and directors from other Christmas films have approached her and vice versa.
The actor spoke affectionately about the support and importance of these films for the community. Check out the Christmas installation on Lifetime.com.
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