Confession: I love holiday rom-coms. Like hot chocolate, they’re an unabashedly sweet and indulgent part of my Christmas experience. They’re delightful in so many ways: the light-hearted romance, the cheesy jokes, and the happy endings. There’s only one thing that I don’t love about rom-coms, and that’s the fact that in Holiday Rom-Com Land, queer women like me don’t exist.
Sure, LGBTQ+ people are becoming more visible in the media in recent years. There have been a few queer storylines in popular romance movies recently. But when queer romances are featured, they often end in heartbreak, confusion, or tragedy. Or queer characters are cast in minor supporting roles (the Quirky Lesbian Best Friend is a whole trope on Netflix these days).
And when it comes to holiday movies? Forget it. It’s unheard of for a holiday rom-com to focus solely on storylines about queer women (Netflix’s “Let It Snow” notwithstanding).
But, um, my fellow gays: There’s now a holiday rom-com with SIX queer women’s storylines at the forefront, including bi women and lesbians. “Season of Love” is the first-ever holiday rom-com specifically for queer women, and it’s arriving just in time for Christmas.
“Season of Love” stars an ensemble cast of six women, including Emily Goss (Iris), Laur Allen (Mardou), Jessica Clark (Lou), Sandra Mae Frank (Kenna), Janelle Marie (Janey), and Dominique Provost-Chalkley (Sue). Six characters, three super gay love stories — all of which are loosely woven together in a dreamy holiday setting. At the center of the story is Iris, a jilted bride whose canceled winter wedding forces her to reexamine her life and decide whether to be her true self.
Clark, a queer actress, called the film a “’Love Actually’ for our community,” and I must agree — it’s like a mash-up between “Love Actually” and “The L Word.” I’ll admit it; I was a little nervous to watch this movie. When there’s only one rom-com featuring your queer kinfolk, you’re going to have really high expectations. What if it was bad?! But I’m happy to say that “Season of Love” gave me everything that I want from a holiday rom-com. There was implausibly cute romance. There were silly sexy montages. There were grand gestures. And there was just the right amount of dramatic tension. Also, classic Christmas songs and one amazing scene of a toy Santa Claus spinning on his head while doing a split.
Halfway through watching the movie with my girlfriend while drinking hot cocoa (an experience I wholeheartedly recommend), I turned to her and grinned in sheer delight. “Season of Love” was full of adorable little rom-com moments, but with a lesbian spin on them, like the moment that one character nervously goes over to her hot welder crush to gift her a batch of her new beer.
“Season of Love” was directed by Christin Baker, founder of Tello Films, a media network that focuses on queer women’s voices (also known as the lesbian Netflix).
“Every holiday season traditional and streaming networks create a ton of holiday romantic comedies but they consistently fail to create meaningful stories from the queer perspective,” a press release for the movie reads. “Decrying the lack of LGBTQ+ characters and more specifically LGBTQ+ female leads in holiday movies, Tello Films and DASH Productions are proud and excited to be breaking grounds and releasing the first ever Holiday romantic comedy for LGBTQ+ women, Season of Love this December.”
Queer writer Kathryn Trammel was in charge of the script, and several of the actresses in the movie are also queer.
“We talk a lot today about diversity on screen but it’s also important to talk about diversity behind the camera,” Goss said. “Season of Love has a queer female writer, director, and producers that shape the voice of the film and it rings so true to a queer woman’s experience because we have queer women all over this cast and crew. It’s a delight to be part of that.”
Provost-Chalkley explained why it was important for her to do this film. “I’ve always wanted to do a rom-com movie, but if you’re going to do a rom-com why not do one that’s going to push the boundaries a little bit and gives this beautiful community what they so deserve, a happy ending,” shr said.
The film’s back story begins in 2018, when Tello Films held a contest for queer holiday feature pitches. Trammel’s script won, and Baker fundraised for the project on Indiegogo. As Baker said: “If you don’t see what you want, then make it!”
I’ve been so accustomed to not seeing women like me in holiday films that, honestly, it never really occurred to me that a movie like this could exist. Now that it does, I want more! More rom-coms about queer women! Black and brown queers, trans dykes, butch lesbians, ALL THE QUEER WOMEN IN ROM-COMS. Anything seems possible.
Luckily, this is only Tello Films’ first foray into the holiday rom-com world. Two more scripts also won the pitch contest, and “Season of Love” was just the first one to go into production, which means we can look forward to at least two more queer women holiday rom-coms in upcoming years.
“Season of Love” opens with three screenings: one in Los Angeles on November 21st, one in Nashville on November 26th, and one in New York City on December 2.
Everyone else can find the movie on SeasonofLoveMovie.com on December 1.