Hallmark has been making changes to its lineup in recent months. A few weeks ago, the network aired its first movie that featured a wedding scene with a lesbian couple marrying. Moving forward, the cabler is looking to add some content starring LGBTQ characters. In fact they’ve signed on Mean Girls star Jonathan Bennett for the network’s first ever LGBTQ-led Christmas movie.
Jonathan Bennett is maybe not what I would describe as a Hallmark regular, but he has been a part of the Hallmark family before. His third movie for Crown Media will be airing on Hallmark Movies and Mysteries. Scheduled for Sunday, November 22, the new movie will be called The Christmas House.
The flick will star Jonathan Bennett and Brad Harder as a gay couple who are currently awaiting news on whether or not they will be able to adopt. Meanwhile, Bennett’s character, Brandon, and his on-screen brother Mike, played by Robert Buckley, are summoned home for the holidays. Their parents are hoping to rekindle holiday memories in their “Christmas house.” Mike will also get his own romance-oriented plot in the film, which will be more of a full-on family story than a one-off romance, which is a tack that Hallmark sometimes takes with its scripts, Christmas or otherwise.
In real life, the Mean Girls star has been out since 2017 and is in a relationship with Jaymes Vaughan, known for being a part of Team Chippendales on The Amazing Race Season 21 before going on to do TV reporting for various outlets. When Jonathan Bennett landed his latest Hallmark gig, Vaughn responded on Twitter, noting,
So incredibly proud of this guy.
Hallmark has been working to broaden and expand its offerings in recent years and not just on the LGBTQ front. The network also has begun showing more interracial couples and has expanded out to include more leads of different races, backgrounds and ethnicities, as well. When Calls The Heart will also be adding a Black family to the series this season, as star Erin Krakow recently shared.
Some of these changes have not been appealing to certain advocacy groups like One Million Moms, who have come out of the woodwork to protest the network. After Hallmark released the aforementioned wedding scene showing a lesbian kiss in Wedding Every Weekend, the group created a petition that asking its followers to "ban Hallmark." A previous petition has claimed Hallmark has "betrayed" its fanbase by pushing more into diversity and inclusion on the network. So far, the group has not made a statement protesting the upcoming holiday offering on Hallmark Movies and Mysteries, though prior to the announcement, the group did bring up anti-inclusion sentiments related to the Holiday lineup.
Meanwhile, Hallmark’s competitors, including Netflix and Lifetime have already diversified their offerings. Frequent Hallmark star Rachel Leigh Cook also recently did a rom-com with the subscription streamer in which Damon Wayans Jr. also starred as her love interest called Love, Guaranteed. There are myriad places to go for diverse rom-coms and holiday movies, but with Hallmark producing more and more holiday movies each year, the network should have plenty of space to play catch-up.