The Christmas Setup
Entertainment

The Christmas Setup’s Previews: Christmas Movie

The Christmas Setup is Lifetime’s first LGBTQ+ Christmas movie, but that’s “not necessarily the most accurate way to describe it,” star Ben Lewis tells TVLine.

The Arrow vet stars alongside his real-life husband Blake Lee (Parks and Recreation, Mixology) as former high school classmates in the holiday flick. When Lewis’ Hugo, a successful big-city attorney, returns home to Milwaukee for Christmas, his mom Kate (The Nanny’s Fran Drescher) arranges for Hugo to run into his secret crush Patrick (Lee), who’s back after a successful stint in Silicon Valley.

“We’ve been calling it the first LGBTQ+ Christmas movie that Lifetime has made,” Lewis notes. But “we can only really claim to represent the ‘G’ in the LGBTQ+. So I hope that we’re just opening a door for queer people of color, trans people, gender non-binary people to see themselves represented. It’s so great that, only in this year, there are four prominent queer Christmas movies being made and being released. It’s just important that it’s not a trend, that people say like, ‘Oh, well, we made the gay movies. Now we can move on.’ This is just the beginning.”

As the writer of “The Christmas Setup,” Lifetime’s first-ever holiday movie centered on a gay romance, Michael Murray has felt a sense of responsibility to the LGBTQ+ community since he first began scripting the project back in March.

But it wasn’t until Lifetime announced in August that it had given the movie the green light that Murray had a “freakout” and “major meltdown” over just how big a deal his little movie was going to be.

“It was like, ‘Oh my God, what have I done now? I hope I’ve been responsible in the portrayal of my life, our community, of Christmas movies — the whole thing. That I’ve checked all the boxes,’” Murray, who is gay, told TheWrap. “And of course at that point I thought, ‘It’s probably too late. I hope I have!’ I don’t think I completely panicked until the script was done. But believe me, I was really aware of what I was doing the whole time.”

“The Christmas Setup,” which premieres Dec. 12, follows the story of New York lawyer Hugo (Lewis) who heads home to Milwaukee with his best friend Madelyn (Ellen Wong) to spend the holidays with his brother Aiden (Chad Connell) and his mom Kate (Fran Drescher), who is also in charge of the local Christmas celebrations. Kate plays matchmaker by arranging 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. As they enjoy the holiday celebrations together, Hugo and Patrick’s attraction grows, but Hugo must make a decision about what he wants his future to look like when he receives word about a big promotion that would require moving to London.

“It’s my story, all the characters are a piece of me. Everybody in there, a lot of the experiences of those characters are pieces I drew from in my own life,” Murray said of “The Christmas Setup.” “But at the same time, I am representing the community. And I was acutely aware of that. Although, at the time I was writing, because of COVID and the fact I had two other movies going on at the same time, my desk was overflowing with material — which was a really great problem to have, God knows. If any year I was happy to be working, it was certainly this year — but writing the movie was kind of like a fever dream because it had to happen fast.”

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