Fans are reacting to seeing themselves represented in inclusive Hallmark Channel and Lifetime holiday movies

Jacky Lai and Tony Giroux in ‘A Sugar & Spice Holiday.’ Lifetime
  • Some of this year’s holiday movies on Lifetime and the Hallmark Channel centre on inclusive storylines.
  • In November, Hallmark Channel released its first Christmas-themed movie to include a same-sex couple, “The Christmas House.”
  • A year ago, the Hallmark Channel came under fire for refusing to air a commercial from Zola that featured a same-sex couple celebrating at the altar. Since then, the channel has released statements expressing its commitment to inclusive stories.
  • Lifetime’s new holiday movie, “A Sugar & Spice Holiday,” also shows commitment to diversity with its largely Asian-American cast and female Asian-American protagonist.
  • Fans have also reacted to Lifetime’s “Christmas Ever After,” a love story that follows an inter-abled couple.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

In households across America, December marks the beginning of made-for-TV holiday movie marathons.

Following a year of racial reckoning that has led brands and entertainment companies to express commitments to diversity, channels including Lifetime and the Hallmark Channel have produced holiday movies that show a variety of characters and storylines that have not been featured prominently — or at all — in the past.

So far, fans have shared strong reactions to seeing themselves represented onscreen in holiday-themed flicks.

For example, the Hallmark Channel in November aired its first holiday-themed original movie to feature a same-sex couple, according to NBC. In “The Christmas House,” couple Brandon (Jonathan Bennett) and Jake (Brad Harder) are awaiting a call about the adoption of their first child together.

When it premiered, fans spoke out on Twitter to applaud and discuss the movie’s LBGTQ representation.

“The Christmas House” comes a year after the channel faced backlash for refusing to air a series of advertisements for the digital wedding-planning service Zola. The Zola ads featured same-sex couples celebrating their nuptials at the altar.

Then, in July, the Hallmark Channel announced its commitment to diverse content and hinted at future content that includes characters and stories that match its wide-ranging audience.

“Diversity and inclusion is a top priority for us and we look forward to making some exciting programming announcements in the coming months, including announcements about projects featuring LGBTQ storylines, characters, and actors,” a Hallmark Channel spokesperson told People in July.

In August, the Hallmark Channel aired its first movie featuring a same-sex wedding, called “Wedding Every Weekend.” The protagonists attended a variety of celebrations — including the marriage of a lesbian couple, a biracial wedding, and a Jewish ceremony.

Fans are also expressing excitement toward Lifetime’s holiday movies that reflect various cultures and abilities

Lifetime’s “Christmas Ever After” is being praised for its inclusive narrative, which stars Tony award-winning Ali Stroker as the channel’s first lead actor with a disability, according to Variety.

Another forthcoming movie from the channel, “A Sugar & Spice Holiday,” which premieres on Sunday, features a largely Asian-American cast.

“A Sugar & Spice Holiday” tells the story of Suzy (Jacky Lai), an architect who returns to her Maine hometown for Christmas and rekindles a connection with a former high school classmate, Billy (Tony Giroux), while also pursuing an upcoming promotion at work. The Lifetime movie also stars Tzi Ma, who also starred in “Mulan” and “The Farewell.”

A sugar and spice holiday lifetime movie
Jacky Lai and Tony Giroux in ‘A Sugar & Spice Holiday.’ Lifetime

Tia Maggini, vice president of Lifetime Original Movies, told the Associated Press that Asian-American screenwriter Eirene Donohue pitched the idea for the movie. “It was exciting to be presented with this particular point of view that has been long overdue for the Christmas movie genre,” Maggini said in a statement to the AP.

Tweets from the network promoting the film’s release have garnered attention from fans, who have commented on the casting and storyline. One user likened the channel’s female Asian lead character to a “Christmas miracle.”

Representatives for Lifetime and the Hallmark Channel, respectively, did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.