‘Merry and Gay’ – Review

The new LGBT+ holiday romcom offers a refreshing take on a Hallmark-style holiday romance.

Merry and Gay tells the story of Becca and Sam, two childhood-friends-turned-high-school-sweethearts who are unexpectedly reunited over the holiday season. When Becca (Dia Frampton), a Broadway star, returns to her small hometown to help direct the annual Christmas pageant, she learns that her ex, Sam (Andi René Christensen) is building the sets for the show. Sam holds a level of resentment towards Becca, as they feel that she let their relationship die in pursuit of her dreams. However, with the help of their enthusiastic mothers (Hayat Nesheiwat and Janet Ivey), Sam and Becca begin to realize that maybe their relationship isn’t quite worth walking away from yet. 

Merry and Gay plays much like a Hallmark-style movie – a genre that is certainly not for everyone, but if you do enjoy such movies, this one will certainly appeal to you. However, it showcases a number of different factors that are far too often underrepresented. As evidenced by the recent controversy surrounding Candace Cameron Bure and Hallmark, it is ever apparent that despite the progress made for LGBT+ representation in media, we still have entirely too far to go.

This film showcases an openly queer couple, and their main issue is not that they’re queer. While “coming out” stories are important, they seem to be the default in telling LGBT+ stories, and it is done so at the detriment of the rest of the LGBT+ experience. Queer couples face every relationship challenge that a heteronormative couple might: overbearing (if not well-intentioned) parents, awkward run-ins after a breakup, makeups after breakups. However, the story that gets told time and time again tends to be one of ostracization, religious trauma, or family fall-out. Which, to be clear, is the unfortunate reality for many LGBT+ people. However, it’s not the only story to be told, and given the strides we have managed to make in those conversations, it feels a service to the world to allow films like this to simply exist, and allow for a “feel good” movie centered around a queer couple. 

Furthermore, this film offers an abundance of inclusitivioty that does not feel forced or performative, for which it should be commended. Sam, a nonbinary character, is played by a nonbinary actor. While doing such should be the norm, it is nice to see a character portrayed by an actor who identifies the same, and nonbinary actors are unfortunately underrepresented in film and media in general. Becca has deaf friends who sign along to her songs, and with whom she communicates in sign language, offering up the ability for deaf actors to be showcased. And, not the least of which, Sam and Becca’s parents are portrayed as the overbearing and eager parents who desperately want to see Sam and Becca get back together, which is arguably one of the most refreshing parts of the film. Often times, it seems parents are vilified in LGBT+ films, as the non-accepting or non-affirming antagonists. Which, again, is the unfortunate reality for many, but it is nice to see parents portrayed on screen as accepting, who simply wish to see their children be happy. 

Substantively, Merry and Gay offers little more than simple holiday joy, which is all one can really ask out of a holiday romcom. However, its representation and inclusiveness are to be commended, and it is certainly a nice addition for anyone queuing up the holiday Hallmark movies. 

Grade: C+

Oscar Prospects:
Likely: None
Should be Considered: None

Release Date: December 1, 2022
Where to Watch: VOD, DivaBoxOffice

Lex Williams
she/her @alexiswilli_
Lives in NC, where she is on a first name basis with the owners of her favorite pho spot.
Favorite Actress: Angela Bassett
Sign: Capricorn

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