Lifetime announced the cast of its upcoming holiday movie “The Christmas Set Up,” and it is groundbreaking news. For the first time its history, the network confirmed it will feature a same-sex couple in one of its popular Christmas movies. Real-life married couple Ben Lewis and Blake Lee will portray the leading couple in “The Christmas Set Up.”
The movie is one of 30 feature films scheduled as part of Lifetime’s 2020 holiday movie lineup, “It’s a Wonderful Lifetime,” which is slated to begin on Oct. 23.
In a Facebook post announcing “The Christmas Set Up,” the network wrote, “This is Lifetime’s first holiday movie with a lead LGBTQ romance.”
Canadian actor Ben Lewis (from TV’s “Arrow” and the film “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World”) and Blake Lee ( “Parks and Recreation”) have been together since 2010. Now, the couple will be the leading actors in a Lifetime first — a romance with a gay couple of the center of the story.
Lifetime executives said “The Christmas Set Up” and other inclusive movies that were added to the holiday line up for 2020 reflects a needed change on the network’s platform.
“The world we create on camera should reflect the world we live in. The Christmas Setup and A Sugar & Spice Holiday are important additions to the It’s a Wonderful Lifetime slate because they continue our effort to tell the stories of the diverse communities represented by our viewers,” said Amy Winter, EVP and head of programming at Lifetime and LMN. “Our hope with these inclusive films and others is that people will see themselves while enjoying universally relatable holiday romances.”
The Hallmark Channel made a similar announcement about their Christmas movie lineup including more diverse stories earlier this year.
“Diversity and inclusion [are] 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, VP of network program publicity at Hallmark’ s parent company, Crown Media Family Networks, said in a statement in July.
Lifetime posted a preview of their lineup for this holiday season on YouTube:
In addition to Lee and Lewis, “The Christmas Set Up” will also star “The Nanny’s” Fran Drescher and Ellen Wong (“Glow”).
“Hope we’re just the tip of the LGBTQ+ iceberg,” Lewis wrote in a retweet from Lyra Hale, who posted, “Lifetime needs to keep coming when it comes to LGBTQ stories … Because everyone and their mother deserves to see themselves in cheesy Christmas movies!”
— Ben Lewis (@benlewishere) September 15, 2020
The movie’s plot follows the story of New York lawyer Hugo (Lewis) who heads to Milwaukee with his best friend Madelyn (Wong) to spend the holidays with his mom, Kate (Drescher), who is in charge of the local Christmas celebrations. Ever the matchmaker, Kate arranges for Hugo to run into Patrick (Lee), Hugo’s high school friend and secret crush, who has recently returned after a successful stint in Silicon Valley.
We have a feeling everyone will find love by the end of the movie!
“The Christmas Set Up” is scheduled to debut on Lifetime at 8 p.m. on Dec. 12.