Netflix’s First Gay Christmas Rom-Com Is the #3 Movie Right Now

If there's one thing that's remained true throughout the history of Christmas movies, it's that they've always been super straight. From It's a Wonderful Life to The Holiday, the romantic stories at the center of these flicks are generally presented in a little heterosexual box with a bow on top.

That is, until Happiest Season dropped on Hulu last December and became one of the first-ever mainstream LGBTQ+ Christmas movies to be released, with a cast of stars like Kristen Stewart and Aubrey Plaza at its center.

While the movie wasn't perfect (one of our editors argued that it didn't need the “coming out” narrative), it was relatable for many queer viewers, while offering funny moments as well. And although Happiest Season was predated by independent films like Make the Yuletide Gay and holiday flicks with queer storylines like Let It Snow, never before had an LGBTQ+ narrative been presented on such a grand scale in a big-budget Christmas movie.

Now, a year later, Netflix has quickly followed suit with their first gay holiday rom-com, Single All the Way. And while the movie may not go down as one of the greatest Christmas flicks of all time, it is a lighthearted affair with a star-studded cast that stands as an important step in the progression of queer cinema. Plus, it’s already claimed the number three spot on the streaming service’s list of most-watched movies.

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Philippe Bosse/Netflix

Single All the Way boasts an impressive cast, including Michael Urie (Ugly Betty), Jennifer Coolidge (The White Lotus), Kathy Najimy (Hocus Pocus), Jennifer Robertson (Schitt's Creek) and Barry Bostwick (The Rocky Horror Picture Show). It also includes a few newer faces, like Philemon Chambers, who is charming in the role of Nick and is likely to become one of Hollywood's newest heartthrobs.

Before the first scene even begins, Single All the Way has succeeded in a way that many films haven't by casting queer leads (and queer icons), while also recruiting LGBTQ+ creators behind the scenes (with Spring Awakening director Michael Mayer and Good Behavior writer Chad Hodge at the helm).

The film is also refreshing for presenting viewers with a narrative where the protagonist *doesn't* have to deal with coming out to his family or facing bigotry. While these issues are still very present and real for a lot of people, this movie knows it's not Moonlight, so it doesn't pretend to be.

Instead we're presented with the story of Peter (Urie), who breaks up with his boyfriend and decides to bring his roommate and best friend Nick (Chambers) home for Christmas instead. Except when they arrive, Peter learns that his mother, Carole (Najimy), has set him up on a blind date with her fitness trainer, James (Luke Macfarlane). And when Peter starts to hit it off with James, his family realizes that his true love might have actually been Nick all along.

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Philippe Bosse/Netflix

If there's one brand that Single All the Way feels akin to, it is clearly Hallmark Christmas movies. The film includes the same story structure and cheesy dialogue as Hallmark classics, but Christmas rom-com fans will be glad this is the case.

Single All the Way seems to embrace its Hallmark-esque qualities too, even with its casting. It can't be a coincidence that openly gay actor Luke Macfarlane—who has starred in a number of hit (heterosexual) Hallmark movies like Mistletoe Promise and Christmas Land—was cast in one of the leading romantic roles for this film. This team knows what they're doing.

And that's not to say the rom-com isn't progressive or novel in its own ways. The script treats common stereotypes humorously, like with Peter's obsession with plants or references to “Instagays.” But also, the entire premise of Peter and Nick falling in love purposefully inverts the historical trope of gay men covering up their relationships by calling their partners their “roommates.” Instead, these two roommates are in a space where they're accepted and the whole family is actually trying to set them up (while also acknowledging that in some instances gay men really are just friends).

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Philippe Bosse/Netflix

But Single All the Way isn't solely interesting because of its construction. It also features genuinely funny moments, like when Nick tells Peter's father that he learned many of his carpentry skills from watching HGTV and the dad asks if that stands for “Homosexual Gay” television, or like when Peter's aunt, Sandy (Coolidge), hears he's going on a date and asks, “Like from Grindr?”

Of course, Single All the Way has its flaws, too. A few scenes are heavy handed, and Peter finding out that his boyfriend is secretly married during the beginning of the film feels somewhat pointless and like it could've been easily cut from the script. Meanwhile, it would be nice if some of the stars of the film (like Coolidge) were given a little more room to shine.

All in all though, Single All the Way succeeds in what it sets out to do, with a wholesome and progressive tale of gay romance that carves out its own space among a long line of Christmas flicks. Viewers are treated to believable and romantic dynamics between the three male leads, while also getting some real laughs along the way.

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Philippe Bosse/Netflix

Purewow Rating: 3.5 Out Of 5 Stars

Single All the Way may be somewhat cheesy and saccharine, but isn't that the point? For lovers of Hallmark Christmas classics, this movie works to carve out a space for LGBTQ+ stories. In addition to boasting a funny script and a lineup of A-list actors, it is clear that this movie was treated with a lot of thought and care. Sometimes we all need something that is simply joyful, and Single All the Way certainly succeeds in that regard.

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Associate Editor, News and Entertainment

Joel is the Associate Editor for News & Entertainment and has been reporting on all things pop culture for over 5 years. Before working at PureWow, he served as a Features...