Be prepared for more than just holiday cheer this December. Get ready for holiday queer, too.
Netflix’s first gay holiday romantic comedy “Single All the Way” (now streaming) has arrived to lift holiday spirits and change up a traditionally heterosexual genre.
Yes, there have been a glut of LGBTQ holiday romance movies as of late – Hulu’s “Happiest Season” and Hallmark’s “The Christmas House” both premiered last year, among others – but this one refreshingly avoids a coming out story and caters to a queer audience.
The film centers around Peter (Urie) and Nick (Philemon Chambers), best friends and roommates in Los Angeles who have always kept their relationship platonic. Peter brings Nick home to New Hampshire for the holidays, where he plans to lie and pass Nick off as his boyfriend to show his family he can actually be in a relationship – like many a rom-com protagonist who gets grief about being single. But when Peter’s mother Carole (Kathy Najimy) sets him up with her spin class instructor James (Luke Macfarlane), both Peter and Nick are forced to grapple with how they really feel about each other.
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The script floored Chambers.
“It’s a family trying to love their son, wanting the best for their son,” Chambers says over a Zoom call. “I’ve never seen that portrayed where there is a gay son and the family who is heterosexual wants the son to be in a relationship with another gay man.”
Najimy – who’s been an LGBTQ activist since the 1970s – also couldn’t help but marvel at the script. So many straight holiday rom-coms aren’t realistic but offer a glimpse at a kinder world. Why couldn’t the same be done for gay stories?
“Although we know that this isn’t the experience for a lot of LGBTQ people, that it’s that easy, that their families and the communities are supportive, I thought it was a great example of what it could be,” she says over the phone, taking a breather from filming “Hocus Pocus 2.” (While coy on details, she says she loves all the witchyflying.)
Netflix approached screenwriter Chad Hodge (“The Darkest Minds,” “Good Behavior”) and asked him to write the streamer’s first gay Christmas romantic comedy. The gay writer had never written a Christmas movie before but likes to keep himself on his toes.
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He wrote the role of Peter’s Aunt Sandy – a former off-Broadway diva in charge of the local Christmas pageant – with Coolidge in mind, with no guarantee she’d actually sign on. That turned out to be an early Christmas present.
“I made a list when I was starting out writing this movie of all the things I would want to see in a gay Christmas movie,” he says, “and one of the things was Jennifer Coolidge.”
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Also on Hodge’s wish list for the film: an accepting family atmosphere; a distinction between big city gay life and small town life; and what you give up when you’re far from your loving family.
And instead of another story riddled with trauma queer people face for just existing, “Single All the Way” opts to tell a story about the lives of gay people after they come out and what their adulthood looks like.
Urie has grown all too familiar with coming out stories and acknowledges their importance. But he knows tales beyond that deserve moments in the spotlight, too.
“I’ve done coming out stories. I’ve been in stories about homophobia, I’ve been in stories about shame, I’ve been in stories about trauma in relation to the LGBTQ+ community,” he says. “There is still a place for movies like that. But we are allowed to represent ourselves and tell stories about ourselves the way that the world is for a lot of us – and the way that the world should be for all of us.”
Hodge agrees, saying he wanted to create a story that felt recognizable “in unique ways” to a gay audience, peppering the film with references to Instagays, Grindr and pop divas.
Urie desired a role in a romantic comedy early in his career but stopped dreaming of opportunities that didn’t exist. “I had to stop dreaming that because I didn’t really get to play straight characters, certainly not romantic leads,” he says.
Today, those behind “Single All the Way” hope the film can lighten up some straight-laced – emphasis on the straight – Scrooges out there over the holidays.
“Hopefully, some people will put it on this Christmas and it’ll make some families a little bit more accepting, maybe broaden some people’s minds a little bit and certainly give queer kids watching something to look to that is representational of what they might become when they grow up and bring someone home for Christmas,” Urie says.
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