You can deck the halls with a diverse variety of Christmas Movies thanks to networks promising more inclusion in their programming with Lifetime, Hallmark, and even Paramount getting on board. Lifetime has delivered a delightful array of Christmas movies which include some firsts for the network, and hopefully not the last, with a great selection of diverse leads such as Ali Stroker's "Christmas Ever After" and "A Sugar & Spice Holiday." “The Christmas Setup” is heralded as the first LGBTQ holiday movie for the network, which coincides with Hallmark's similar attempts at diversifying their programming with the network's first LGBTQ love story in "The Christmas House." The Lifetime movie has an incredible cast with real-life married couple Ben Lewis and Blake Lee, “The Nanny” icon Fran Drescher, Ellen Wong, and Chad Connell.

Great care went into the Christmas movie including the great involvement Lifetime put in to ensure that "The Christmas Setup" had an LGBTQ creative team to bring it to life. The Lifetime Christmas movie found this creative team in Director Pat Mills, EP Larry Grimaldi, and an amazing cast. The network even worked with GLAAD to make sure that “The Christmas Setup” represented the LGBTQ community accurately and sensitively, according to an interview with The Wrap. Amy Winter (head of Lifetime's head of programming) shared with The Wrap that Michael Murray created a script that she described as being delightful, charming, warm, and funny.

Real-life love behind 'The Christmas Setup'

The starring roles went to real-life couple Ben Lewis and Blake Lee which was referred to as stunt casting by Michael Murray in an interview with The Wrap.

Murray continued with that EP Larry Grimaldi was hoping for a real-life couple even before the pandemic restrictions which the writer says only amped up the conversation. Ben Lewis was last seen when "Arrow" bowed out for its final season which found the actor helping to steer his character's coming out inclusion. In an interview with Parade, Lewis shared that he's never been on a set before that had so many creatives from the LGBTQ community and if they weren't from the community they were allies.

The real-life couple shared in the same interview with Parade that they took little pieces of their own relationship into their on-screen relationship. Lewis teased that he channeled a lot of his own nervousness and clumsiness into his character Hugo while Lee added that the director told them to put in little moments by remembering things such as their first kiss.

"The Christmas Setup" is a sweet Christmas movie that finds Hugo (Ben Lewis) working as a lawyer in New York and working to gain a promotion. A bluff attempt could land his job into jeopardy but all his worries are pushed aside as he and his best friend Madelyn (Ellen Wong) head home to Milwaukee to stay with his mom (the dazzling Fran Drescher). The movie first introduces Hugo and Madelyn as classic opposite with his serious personality versus her bubbly one. The two make a dazzling duo that has long-time chemistry between the actors and adds an element of sweet friendship to the Christmas movie. Upon his return home, Kate (Drescher) immediately sets about getting Hugo to reconnect with his former school crush Patrick (Blake Lee).

This sets about with a lovely array of moments that range from sweet to funny to dramatic with that feel-good Christmas feel at the heart of it. Sweet moments find Patrick and Hugo cuddled under the stars and a heartwarming talk between brothers while the movie also finds laugh-out-loud moments such as Hugo sliding down the stairs to answer the door for Patrick.

GLAAD worked with 'The Christmas Setup'

Going home brings Hugo back into his teenage days when he immediately relives his mother's chore calendar which has his and Madelyn's names filled in under every activity taking place during their two-week visit. "The Christmas Setup" is a cheerful romantic comedy that centers around Kate's subtly when setting both of her sons up with who she believes could be the one for them.

Kate has more than one trick up her sleeve when she subtly leaves Hugo at the house to wait for the Christmas tree to be delivered which, of course, turns out to be Patrick. Blake Lee shares with Parade that Lifetime was not playing around as they worked with GLAAD so that the storyline could be done authentically. Ben Lewis shares with Parade that none of the chemistry was manufactured and he didn't just mean between him and his husband but also between Ellen Wong and himself. The actor shares that Wong has been a friend of theirs for over ten years while Chad Connell (who plays Lewis's brother) has been a friend for about twelve years. The chemistry between the real-life couple was apparent and even Michael Murray gushed to the Wrap about the pair and about the nuance that stemmed from their ten years together, their friendship, their partnership, and their commitment.

Qualities the writer shared that he couldn't have imagined when he was first writing the script.

"The Christmas Setup" is a sweet and charming movie about love and family, embracing imperfection, changes, and following your heart. This is the first true LGBTQ holiday movie for Lifetime which is an aspect that is highly important to the movie and is subtly woven into various moments. A poignant scene between Patrick and Hugo finds the two discussing the importance of inclusion within a community which feels like a call out to the network itself to provide more diverse programming. Michael Murray found a great responsibility in delivering the first LGBTQ Lifetime Christmas movie. The writer shared with The Wrap that his hopes that he authentically portrayed his own life, the LGBTQ community, and Christmas movies, ensuring that he was aware of the responsibility the whole time he was writing.

The writer went onto say that the characters in “The Christmas Setup” are all pieces he drew from his own life and talked about how he was acutely aware of representing the community every moment of the scriptwriting process.

Fran Drescher on 'The Christmas Setup'

As with every feel-good Christmas and romantic comedy, an adorable series of dates set the stage for Hugo and Patrick fall in love by having a romantic quiet moment watching the stars, sharing a romantic dinner in a Christmas tree farm, and enjoying a family trivia game night. "The Christmas Setup" has romance, family, and Christmas all bundled together for a feel-good watch that will leave you feeling cheerier and will no doubt lift your spirits for the approaching new year.

Fran Drescher is a true delight for fans that have known her since her “The Nanny” days and will immediately recognize her trademark good cheer and demeanor which she brings to every moment. Drescher dished with Parade about her character Kate who she describes as being very positive and a force. Kate is truly a mom that wants the best for both of her sons and will bring out all her best moves to subtly play matchmaker to steer both of her sons toward potential love and happiness.

All good things were said about Fran Drescher by her costars. Blake Lee described Drescher to Parade as being warm from the first moment they met her and described her as being so generous with her kindness and love.

Ben Lewis shared with ET Online that Drescher was everything you'd want her to be and more, even going on to share how he and Lee debated about whether to watch “The Nanny” prior to filming “The Christmas Setup." Lewis gushed about how Drescher is so comfortable with who she is which the actor goes onto say that no one is going to meet Fran and be disappointed.

The second love story blooms between Hugo's brother and Madelyn (Ellen Wong) who immediately click upon Aiden's return home after six months in Germany. Aidan (Chad Connell) and Hugo aren't as close as they once were with the distance between them but the two actors bring a sweet depth to the brothers' relationship. The Christmas movie makes a statement about finding new paths and embracing yourself while weaving in the reconnection of family and hometown comfort.

As with classic Lifetime, the movie contains a touch of drama throughout as Hugo is faced with a decision when he receives his promotion and learns that his firm will be sending him to London, England. The promotion comes with a downside as Patrick doesn't wish to pursue even a holiday romance with Hugo, finding that he has fallen faster for him than he predicted. The movie is endearing and charming with a happily ever after that brings all the smiles.

'The Christmas Setup' sparks representation hopes

Returning home has brought Hugo back to former aspects of his younger days with the warmth of his mother, the reconnection with Patrick, the joy of his hometown, and the joy he found in woodworking when he used to help his dad.

The Christmas movie opens with Hugo determined for a promotion but shown as being overworked and too serious, called uptight by his closest friend. Reconnecting with Patrick is more than finding love, it's about Hugo opening himself up to love and to who he really wants to be in the next chapter of his life. Michael Murray shared with The Wrap that for the drag queen club toward the end, it was important to him to think about the diversity and inclusion in the background players. This adds a subtly of inclusion for a quiet background scene to the movie's most dramatic moment between Hugo and Patrick that finds one choosing to walk away.

Ben Lewis shared his high hopes that this is just the beginning for Lifetime and for Christmas movies.

The actor expressed these hopes in an interview with ET Online about how he hoped that Lifetime fans that tune into the movie will embrace the love story. The actor also shared his hopes that this is going to deepen the representation for years to come for LGBTQ people, people of color, trans, and everyone that needs a voice. The actor believes that everybody deserves the escapism and representation told in these types of stories. Blake Lee continues in the same interview that this is a year that has seen several movies with representation and that other actors and filmmakers from the other Christmas movies have reached out to them and vice versa. The actor spoke fondly of the support and how great these movies are is for the community. Check out “The Christmas Setup” on Lifetime.com.

Don't miss our page on Facebook!