It's beginning to look a lot like an inclusive Christmas, everywhere you go on Lifetime.
The cable network said Monday that its annual holiday-movie slate will include its first LGBTQ romance as a lead story, as well as its first centering on an Asian-American family and on a romance starring a differently abled character in a wheelchair.
"Because the holidays are for everyone, this year Lifetime dives deeper in the commitment for diverse storytelling with its storylines, talent and characters," the network announced in unveiling the 30 new telefilms that will premiere in 2020's It's a Wonderful Lifetime promotion.
Last year Lifetime took a tentative step with "Twinkle All the Way," which featured what may be the first same-sex romantic kiss between major characters in a holiday TV-movie. Married couple Lex and Danny (Brian Sills, Mark Ghanimé) shared a closing on-screen kiss in a story primarily about straight characters Cadence (Sarah Drew) and Henry (Ryan McPartlin).
This year, the network's mid-October to December holiday cornucopia features "The Christmas Set Up," in which New York corporate attorney Hugo and his best friend Madelyn spend the holidays with Hugo's mom in Milwaukee. There, his matchmaking mother arranges for him to run into Patrick, Hugo's high school friend and secret crush. Things go smoothly between the two until Hugo gets a big promotion requiring him to move to London.
"A Sugar & Spice Holiday" finds architect Suzie on a Christmas trip home to Maine, where her Chinese-American family runs a local lobster bar. But with the death of her grandmother, who was a local-legend baker, Suzie is pressed to enter a gingerbread-house competition. Will her sugar and spice lead to something nice with her contest partner, old high school friend Billy?
"I feel beyond privileged to be directing @lifetimetv’s first Chinese-American holiday movie and it’s so cool to see such excitement for it," tweeted the TV film's Chinese-Canadian director, Jennifer Liao, who noted, "By the way, the film's screenwriter Eirene Donohue is also Asian!"
No cast has been announced for either film. "Christmas Ever After," however, stars "Oklahoma!" Tony Award winner Ali Stroker. Paralyzed from the waist down due to a spinal-cord injury from a car accident at age 2, she plays a popular romance novelist, Izzi Simmons, who spends each Christmas at her favorite bed & breakfast — and the B&B's handsome new owner, Matt (Daniel DiTomasso), may be just the one to cure her writer's block.
Additionally, comedian Tiffany Haddish is an executive producer of "Christmas Unwrapped," featuring an interracial romance between reporter Charity (Amber Stevens West) and local hunk Erik (Marco Grazzini), who claims the gifts he gives away come from Santa himself. And "Dear Christmas" stars Melissa Joan Hart as author and podcaster Natalie Morgan, who finds sparks igniting with firefighter Jack (Jason Priestley).
Other stars on the roster include Ed Begley Jr., Robin Givens, Cheryl Ladd, Mario Lopez, Faith Prince, Kelly Rowland and Betty White.