“The Christmas Setup” Movie Review – Basically A Perfect Queer Holiday Story

The Christmas Setup 2020 Movie review
Patrick and Hugo in “The Christmas Setup” (Image: Screengrab)

For those wondering, Lifetime ended up delivering an incredibly sweet queer-led story in The Christmas Setup. It had me smiling way too much.

Considering Lifetime’s track record, of course, people were awaiting the release of The Christmas Setup. With the story focusing on a gay couple, would the network do them justice? I’m glad to share that Lifetime knocked it out of the park. While Hallmark’s The Christmas House had the gay married couple be part of an ensemble, the gay couple in The Christmas Setup was the main focus.

One of the best things about The Christmas Setup is that it worked the way other holiday rom-com flicks did, but the romantic leads were both men (played by real-life married couple Ben Lewis and Blake Lee).

The premise dealt with single and career-oriented New York lawyer Hugo coming to his old town to spend Christmas with his mother Kate (played by queer icon Fran Drescher). He’s also worried about losing his job. To keep him company, Hugo’s best friend Madelyn (Ellen Wong) tagged along. She’s practically family at this point.  

Kate’s responsible for the Christmas decorations around their small town. This is her last year as the organizer, so she’s working hard to make everything perfect. While Hugo and Madelyn gave Kate a hand, it became apparent that Kate’s got something else in mind, too. She’s trying to hook Hugo up with Patrick (Lee).

Turns out, Patrick was Hugo’s senior in high school and of course, Hugo had a crush on him. Meeting Patrick brought back all those memories. And Patrick’s into Hugo, too. With sparks flying, you’ll get to see Patrick help Hugo with the Christmas tree. The two being stuck on the roof while putting up decorations. Going on a date to see the Northern Lights. It’s very cheesy and I loved every second of it. Also, the accidental sexual innuendo in their flirting was amusing.

It’s important to note that The Christmas Setup didn’t deliver a story about coming out and finding acceptance. Hugo and Patrick being queer wasn’t a big deal. There was no homophobia around. And the two kissed twice! Wow! Queer viewers deserve such feel-good movies.

As for the conflicts, there were two of them. The first was Hugo being offered a job in London. Accepting such a position would take him away from his mother, Madelyn, and Patrick. The second conflict dealt with the local train station being demolished to create a shopping center or something (I don’t clearly remember).

Trying to save the train station, Hugo’s a lawyer, after all, led to him and Patrick learning about the queer history of their small town. The revelation opened the door for The Christmas Setup to talk about growing up queer in a very dangerous time. Things were far better now, with Hugo and Patrick’s town being very queer-inclusive. I think the writing team did a good job when it came to handling such a topic and showcase how the current LGBTQ+ generation owes a lot to those who came before them. Of course, the film made it clear there was still a lot of work that needed to be done.

There was also a well-written conversation between Hugo and Patrick about their experience in high school and how everyone’s journey was different. Patrick was out and popular, but he was lonely. And even though Hugo wasn’t out back then, Patrick had noticed him. They were meant to be together!

The Christmas Setup also took the time to develop other relationships. I liked Hugo and Madelyn’s friendship. I’m glad it wasn’t used to make Patrick jealous and unnecessary cause drama. The same went for Hugo’s brother Aiden when he and Madelyn decided to become a couple. Aiden and Hugo also shared a nice little scene while remembering their late father.

The Christmas Setup ended up being one big cozy hug. Kudos to the creative team for that.

Originally aired on December 12, 2020, if you’re looking for a queer-led holiday rom-com featuring out queer actors, you should definitely watch The Christmas Setup. Here’s to hoping we will get to see holiday movies that explore the rest of the queer community.

Author: Farid-ul-Haq

Farid has a Double Masters in Psychology and Biotechnology as well as an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Missing in Somerville, and The Game Master of Somerville. He gives us insight into comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.

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