Friday, April 19, 2024

Merry & Gay Stages Playful Holiday Romance

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Is it really the holiday season if you haven’t watched a rom-com? If you like holiday rom-coms, then Merry & Gay premiering next Thursday on DivaBoxOffice.tv is the movie for you!

The network, which launches Dec. 1, is a partnership between A Baker Production and DIVA magazine, the world’s leading magazine for LGBTQI+ women and non-binary people. 

Merry & Gay is the fourth holiday romcom from veteran writer, producer, and director Christin Baker, known for critically acclaimed, queer feature films (Christmas at the RanchI Hate New YearsSeason of Love) and series (Emmy-nominated Secs and EXECS and Riley Parra) with powerful, original soundtracks.

Having seen and loved Christmas at the Ranch and I Hate New Years which stars Dia Frampton, the lead of Merry & Gay, I knew I had to watch this one!

Frampton plays lead Becca who, after finishing a run in a popular Broadway musical, decides to spend the holidays with her family and friends in Evergreen, Tennessee to direct the town’s annual Christmas pageant. (The movie even starts with a song set in the musical!)

cast of the in-canon musical posing in Merry and Gay
In canon musical! About coffee!

Her well-meaning but meddling mother Tilly (Hayat Nesheiwat) and her best friend, Lucille Sheridan (Janet Ivey), hatch a plan to reunite Becca and Lucille’s kid Sam (Andi René Christensen). (Don’t you love meddling moms?)

Except well, Sam is not at all enthused to see their ex-girlfriend and high school sweetheart. Becca left them behind three years ago and Sam has made a life for themself as the bartender at the family’s bar, Sheridan’s.

Cue shenanigans and the entire town trying to bring the two together, while Sam wants nothing to do with it, and Becca just wants to make amends with Sam.

Further complicating what should be a sweet reunion (after the hashing out of feelings, obviously) is Becca’s offers from Hollywood and her manager causing Drama!

As required by the genre, of course, Becca and Sam patch up and confess their love for one another but not until Sam is made very aware that they are in the wrong for not giving Becca a chance and trusting Becca to know what she wants.

Becca is doing great on Broadway, by the way, so the film’s central conflict doesn’t quite work for me, but Merry & Gay is still a fun movie!

A side plot occurs within the town’s people getting ready for the Christmas pageant with Becca’s brother Jack (Jon Lee) admitting to someone that he likes her and their shared love for trivia and Dungeons & Dragons. The pageant itself is also really cute and one of the characters sings in ASL with Becca and later in the pageant.

A white woman signing in front of Christmas trees in Merry & Gay
Sandy (Michelle Mary Schafer)

Christensen is the first nonbinary lead in a full-length holiday rom-com (Syed Family X-Mas is a short with Vico Ortiz) and I really hope we see more romcoms with leads of all backgrounds and types. It is time!!!

Merry & Gay is also just plain funny with lines like “This is all I wanted for Christmas!” followed by “I just asked for a crock-pot.” The humor and interactions feel realistic and Frampton and Christensen really shine together.

The town’s meddling is also laugh-aloud funny with a scene where people are dressed in all black and hiding in bushes while trying to get Becca and Sam to patch up. Even with the main point of the plot being bringing Becca and Sam together, everyone else in the movie gets their moment to shine too.

sam and becca

Look, in news cycles full of violence and negative rhetoric impacting the LGBTQ community, movies where the only drama our two queer leads face is being sad for five minutes while being guaranteed their happy ending is a balm we desperately need.

I really hope that DivaBoxOffice.tv is able to grow beyond four films a year and we get every holiday film possible (and just films! and shows! and shorts! and everything else)!

You can watch Merry & Gay and other media on December 1st.

Images and screener courtesy of DivaBoxOffice.tv

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