The Reel Review


A Lifetime Christmas movie with gay lead characters?! It’s a Christmas miracle! Fran Drescher (The Nanny) headlines the network’s first LGBTQ-themed holiday romance about a gay son (Ben Lewis), a successful New York attorney, returning to Milwaukee for the holidays. He soon discovers that his meddlesome mom is trying to set him up with a former schoolmate (Blake Lee) who has moved back to town.

Blake Lee and Ben Lewis in The Christmas Setup.

Yes, The Christmas Setup is just as corny and formulaic as the dozens of other schmaltzy Christmas movies running on Lifetime this holiday season, but the immensely likable cast (Drescher, in particular, is so much fun), feel good energy, and some really poignant plot twists evoke all the good cheer associated with the holiday season.

Ben Lewis and Fran Drescher in The Christmas Setup.

Director Pat Mills (Don’t Talk to Irene) breathes joy into the nostalgia-filled story, with endearing messages about the importance of taking chances in life, of being open to love, and of family. The Christmas Setup is a charming winner that finally gives representation to LGBTQ people, who until now, had never seen themselves represented in such mainstream holiday films.


Blake Lee and Ben Lewis

• The actors playing the gay lead characters in The Christmas Setup, Ben Lewis (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) and Blake Lee (Parks and Recreation), have been a couple since 2010, and were married in January 2016, six months after same sex marriage was legalized in all 50 U.S. states.

• Pop singer Jojo’s song “December Baby” is featured in the film. It is the title track of her newly-released Christmas album.

• The Christmas Setup was filmed in Toronto, Canada.


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