Hallmark has been putting out seemingly infinite movies over the years, often known as a station with minimal variety. Hallmark movies are rarely controversial, opting for a bland and glossy approach to their programming. But now the channel has begun to expand its programming to an even more diverse audience and will air its first LGBTQ+ relationship in the movie, The Christmas House.
The Christmas House will star Robert Buckley and Jonathan Bennett as brothers who return home for the holidays to visit their parents, played by Treat Williams and Sharon Lawrence, to recreate a yearly tradition: decking the house out for the holidays. Bennett’s character, Brandon, is accompanied by his husband, played by Brad Harder, and the story partially centers on the two trying to adopt a child. According to the movie description, the two are waiting for the call from the agency while home for the holidays.
Outside of the world of Hallmark movies, the real Jonathan Bennett is in a relationship with Jaymes Vaughan, a host on Reelz’s Celebrity Page. The two are currently dating with plans for marriage in the not-too-distant future. Bennett remarked about his latest movie that it would have been important to have seen a character in this situation when he was a younger man. He’s appeared as himself on a number of different reality shows but is maybe best known for his breakout role in 2004’s Mean Girls.
The Christmas House is directed by Michael Grossman, who has helmed episodes of Cobra Kai, as well as a number of other shows like Pretty Little Liars, Legends of Tomorrow, and Drop Dead Diva. The story, which apparently is based on a family tradition in Robert Buckley’s own family, was penned by Erin Rodman, whose only other writing credit was 2019’s Seizure. That being said, it appears Buckley had a major influence over the story, even making the decision to have his brother on-screen be gay.
Hallmark is once again making hay during the Christmas season with all kinds of movies geared toward the holidays hitting the screen over the next month or so. In addition to The Christmas House, they have Heart of the Holidays, A Christmas Tree Grows in Colorado, Good Morning Christmas, and Christmas By Starlight in the upcoming rotation.
It makes sense that Hallmark would lean into programming during this time of year. In 2019, they reported an average of 2.5 million viewers for the premiere of each of their Christmas movies. It’s part of their Countdown to Christmas run which non-officially begins around the end of October. This influx of holiday-themed programming puts them near the top of cable channels in terms of ratings during the lead up to the holiday. They basically own Christmas, which makes the decision to diversify their characters’ relationships even that much more important.
The Christmas House will premiere on The Hallmark Channel on November 22 at 8:00 PM. For a network long known to take a milquetoast approach to its programming, it’s great to see they are pushing forward new relationships into their storylines that more accurately mirrors the world.