While The Christmas House, Hallmark’s first-ever Christmas movie featuring a queer couple as co-leads, delivered last year, The Christmas House 2: Deck Those Halls had even more well-written queer representation for viewers.
Hallmark deciding to have a married gay couple be part of The Christmas House was big deal when the movie premiered back in November of 2020. And while Hallmark could have patted itself on the back for a job well done and not do another queer-inclusive Christmas movie for a few more years, I think the company should be appreciated for giving The Christmas House a sequel and taking the opportunity to develop the queer storyline. Sequels don’t always work. But I have to say TCH 2: Deck Those Halls served a purpose and I hope we get to see the Mitchell family again very soon. I enjoy their company.
The plot picks up a couple of years after the end of The Christmas House. Things have been going well for our main cast. Brandon (Jonathan Bennett) and his husband Jake (Brad Harder) adopted another child. Trying to take care of two kids at once isn’t easy. Mike’s show and his relationship with Andi (Ana Ayora) and her son Noah (Mattia Castrillo) are doing well. And the entire family decides to meet each other for Christmas this year.
Due to what happened last time, Brandon and Mike (Robert Buckley) make up their minds to not go all out with the Christmas decorations, but things change when Mike’s offered to participate in a Christmas decoration reality show competition called ‘Deck Those Halls’. Mike’s entire family is all for him being a part of it. But he’s unsure. However, with Mike’s initial competitor dropping out of the show due to an injury, the show must go on and his agent reels in Brandon to have a brother vs brother situation and things get out of hand!
Separated into two teams, there’s a lot that the family has to deal with. Not only is Brandon and Mike’s sibling rivalry a bit too much for their respective partners, but their parents, Phylis (Sharon Lawrence) and Bill (Treat Williams), don’t appreciate being used by their sons to one-up each other. There are a lot of unresolved feelings between the two brothers and I liked how the narrative handles their relationship.
Due to Brandon being the older brother, he feels overshadowed by Mike in every aspect of his life. Mike’s the one with a successful TV show and acting career. Mike’s loved by the masses. He got the Christmas House in the previous movie. Also, Mike’s the straight one.
I wasn’t expecting The Christmas House 2 to go quite so deep into Brandon’s thought process as an out gay man. We did see him and Jake experience trouble during the adoption process due to being a gay couple in the first movie. However, the sequel amps up the queer representation by a couple of notches.
The first conversation occurs between Brandon and Jake as Brandon puts up Christmas decorations. With Jake being the level-headed one in the current situation, he’s worried about Brandon doing too much to win the competition against his brother. It’s revealed that the reason Brandon wants to win and tries to be good at everything is that he is concerned about what other people will say if he fails. As a queer man, he knows that if he slips just once, especially as a gay father, certain people will look at him differently and will imply that he failed at being a parent because he’s not straight enough to be an actual father.
The other sentimental moment occurs between Brandon and Mike after they’re thrown out of viewing a stage play their parents are performing in. The two get to talk about the decades-long sibling rivalry between them and why Brandon’s so worked up about who will win the competition. Again, I wasn’t expecting a Hallmark movie to get so heavy with queer representation in a holiday-themed narrative.
Brandon’s insecurity over being the “gay” sibling and having to experience a childhood different from Mike’s (even though they grew up in the same house) is likely going to touch many viewers. Even though Brandon’s parents were supportive of him, Brandon still had to face an unwelcoming world when he stepped outside of his safe space. And “straight” Mike being liked by everyone didn’t help matters. Brandon’s even insecure about his kids growing up to have Mike be their favorite and not him.
Co-written by Erin Rodman and Buckley, I think the movie handled both moments well. Brandon was allowed to share his feelings and get a satisfying resolution. There’s nothing for him to prove to anyone, especially not to people who aren’t his family. I liked how the conversations didn’t make light of his concerns. As a queer man, Brandon’s opinions were valid and they were acknowledged by both Jake and Mike. Now it was time for Brandon to work on those internal issues with the support of his loved ones.
Along with the queer representation, TCH 2: Deck Those Halls also focused on Mike trying to find the right time to propose to Andi. Mike’s storyline involving coping with the return of Andi’s ex and Noah’s father, Zane, was handled well, too. I appreciated that the movie didn’t paint Zane (Matthew James Dowden) as a villain. Many people have families like Noah’s and I liked how the issues between Zane, Andi, and Mike were resolved when it came to parenting while having Zane be part of Noah’s life.
I highly recommend that you watch The Christmas House and The Christmas House 2. Due to the narrative themes being addressed, both films are definitely different from the usual holiday movies we get to see. And I think such creative decisions should be supported. I also enjoyed how the sequel changed up the visual structure due to the reality show competition aspect of the story by adding confessionals similar to Modern Family.
I have my fingers crossed that The Christmas House movie series returns soon with a third installment. With how things ended for our characters, relationship dynamics have changed and I would like to see them be explored further.
Along with this series, I also wouldn’t mind seeing Hallmark do another queer-inclusive Christmas movie that features people belonging to other parts of the LGBTQ+ spectrum.
Have you watched The Christmas House 2: Deck Those Halls?
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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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