This lesbian Hallmark movie might be a must-watch for queer women this Christmas

Hallmark Channel is serving sapphics its unique brand of cheesy Christmas joy this year, with its first ever female-led LGBTQ+ romance film. 

Starring Humberly Gonzalez and Ali Liebert, Friends & Family Christmas premiered on Sunday (17 December) and puts lesbian love at the heart of the festive season, utilising the beloved fake dating trope to make sparks fly. 

“Daniella has recently moved to New York to pursue an art career and decides to stay in town to share the holidays with her circle of artist friends, instead of going home to see her sweet, if overbearing parents,” the movie’s synopsis reads, “Amelia is a talented entertainment lawyer trying to stay focused on her work after a broken engagement. 

“When Daniella and Amelia are set up by their parents, they agree to pretend that they are dating, to appease them for the holidays. However, as they spend time in each other’s worlds, they soon build a connection that is deeper than either of them could have hoped for.” 

Speaking with TV Guide prior to the film’s release, Gonzalez and Liebert spoke of how excited they are to give sapphic audiences a film they can resonate with. 

Gonzalez said the movie was made at the “right time” and with “the right people” and it feels “special” they have been able to make it happen. 

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“I’m looking forward to hearing the feedback of folks who watch this with their families over Christmas, and I’m anticipating people really loving this movie,” Liebert added. “As a queer person and a person who is in this movie, I’m very excited.”

Ali Liebert and Humberly Gonzalez in Friends & Family Christmas (Hallmark)

Liebert, who is also a producer on the film, went on to say she loves the title because it is “expanding that vision of what a traditional family can mean”. 

“I thought that was a wonderful title for this movie, and I love the fake couple trope. It’s one of my favorite rom-com tropes. I was excited about that and I love how quirky and uptight my character is, so I was looking forward to playing with the comedy of that.” 

“When I got the script, the first thing I was curious about was, are we going to make it about the struggle? Is it about us struggling because we’re queer?,” Gonzalez told the publication, “When I saw that their issues are just issues that come from the story itself, not because of who they are, I was very happy about that. 

“Instantly I was like, “Wow, Hallmark is making a woman-loving-woman storyline.” That’s huge. That, on its own, was already alluring to me. 

“I was like, “I’ll play it, whatever it is.” But I wanted to make sure it isn’t just about they’re gay. They’re figuring it out. Their parents set them up and now they’re having to deal with the results of that. 

“I love that it’s a fun story with trials and tribulations, and it has nothing to do with their suffering as queer people.” 

Not shying away from wider queer culture, the film has a number of LGBTQ+ Easter eggs in it, including a nod to beloved sapphic film Carol and rainbow decorations dotted around the scenes. Gonzalez says these odes to queer pop culture are all over the film and mused how many audiences will be able to spot when they watch it.

The film uses the beloved faking dating trope (Hallmark)

“I hope people laugh,” Liebert said when asked about what she hopes viewers will take away from the film. “I hope that people can sit around with their friends and family, whoever that may be and laugh and feel really warm by watching this story, which is a love story. Love is love. That really is the big picture.”

She continued: “The director did a beautiful job, Anne Wheeler, in capturing the journey of both these women and the vulnerability and risks that it takes to tell someone how you feel. I love a grand gesture; I love where they lay it on the line. And this movie has all of those things, so I hope people find those as delicious to watch as we felt making it.”

Friends & Family Christmas comes as Hallmark seeks to make its seasonal films more queer inclusive. Earlier in December, the channel’s president of programming Lisa Hamilton Daly said Hallmark plans on producing more “queer-forward” movies in 2024

“We really want people to be able to see themselves in our movies, and we know that people seeing themselves means that there’s a wider range of people who really are excited when we tell their stories,” she explained.

This view was echoed by Liebert, who says she hopes that “diversity, inclusion continues to grow” on the channel in coming years.

“I hope that there will always be queer Christmas movies every year — at least one but maybe, like, three — and see different people in these roles,” Gonzalez adds.

Friends & Family Christmas premiered on Sunday, 17 December on Hallmark Channel.