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Saturday, April 13, 2024

Is This the Gayest Yuletide Yet?

The Monitor is a weekly column devoted to everything happening in the WIRED world of culture, from movies to memes, TV to Twitter.

As you can likely tell from the headline, this essay is only going to be half-serious. (It’s the day after Thanksgiving! Even I don’t expect you to read this, and I wrote it in the hope that someone would. Please go back to your turkey hangover.) But alas, here’s the (warmed over like leftovers) hot take: America might be gearing up for the gayest yuletide yet.


It started earlier this month with the release of Ammonite, a period piece about—no kidding—a fossil hunter named Mary Anning (Kate Winslet) who forms an “intense bond” with a headstrong young woman (naturally played by Saoirse Ronan) after the woman’s husband entrusts Mary with her care. Did this happen in England in the 1800s? Did dudes just pay women to take care of their wives? Did lesbians know about this? Anyway, critics have said the movie feels cold and removed, but you know what? It’s still pretty queer, and in a year when touching became life-threatening, you take what you can get.

Truly, though, Ammonite, which started a limited theatrical run earlier this month and is slated to hit VOD on December 4, is just the amuse-bouche. The real feast so far this holiday season is Happiest Season. Directed by Veep’s Clea DuVall, it’s about a woman named Harper (Mackenzie Davis) who brings her girlfriend Abby (Kristen Stewart) home for the holidays and neglects to tell said girlfriend that she’s not out to her family. You read that correctly. Kristen “I’m, like, so gay, dude” Stewart is in a rom-com with the hot butch from Terminator: Dark Fate. Also, Dan Levy is there, also pretending to be straight. If this doesn’t make you want to wait under a mistletoe and hope for your own lanky blonde to show up and encourage you to pull down your mask with abandon, nothing will. (Side note about holiday decorations: Did anyone else know Home Depot sells rainbow Christmas trees now? It’s true. They don’t even need decorations. You just sit them next to a Wildfang or Opening Ceremony mood board and they radiate from within.)

One of the benefits of streaming services has been that a lot of otherwise—and I use this term with tongue in cheek—niche movies get to larger audiences. A saccharine queer romantic comedy like Happiest Season likely wouldn’t have even been made 20 years ago, let alone become a holiday weekend release. Now, thanks to Hulu—which, between Happiest Season and its streaming release of Portrait of a Lady on Fire earlier this year, is really cornering a market—it’s coming out the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. The films that end up becoming holiday classics always do so because of an unpredictable mix of perfect timing and alchemy, but with any luck, a movie like Happiest Season could find an audience ready to fire it up every time the turkey goes in the oven. (Pro tip: Make it a double feature with Carol, which remains the best Christmas movie not about Christmas ever made.)

But wait, there’s more. Netflix, not wanting to be left out of the LGBTQ-uletide joy, also has a sparkly bit of cinema coming this December: The Prom. Ryan Murphy’s latest for the streaming service doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with the holiday season—prom traditionally happens in spring, after all. But this neon-lit musical, wherein Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, and James Corden help an Indiana girl who wants to take another girl to the big dance (again, not kidding), is sure to strike a chord with everyone who feels isolated when they’re surrounded by family. Also, it’s full of singing, and if there’s one thing the holidays need more than queer-friendly on-brand movies, it’s new carols.

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