It’s that time of year again when Netflix churns out their successful Christmas movie formula, complete with Vanessa Hudgens and small town girls. This year the streaming giant surprised its audiences with a twist: Single All the Way.
Single All the Way follows a young, gay man named Peter (Michael Urie) who travels home for the holidays with his best friend, Nick (Philemon Chambers). The plan was initially that they pretend to be dating so Peter is no longer the “single” one of the family, but when he arrives home he discovers his mother (Kathy Najimy) has arranged to set him up with her trainer James (Luke Macfarlane). What follows is typical of a Netflix Christmas romcom, complete with romantic montages, meddling nieces, and a Christmas pageant.
From the start, the audience knows how the movie will end: Peter and Nick will recognize their feelings for each other, overcome the challenges keeping them apart, and fall in love. Even Peter’s nieces are aware of this, insisting that they are perfect for each other and subsequently manufacturing ways for the two to realize it themselves.
It’s not the plot that sets the movie apart, it’s how the movie frames Peter’s romantic journey. Single All the Way is one of the few movies that does not focus on a “coming out” story. Peter is already out to his family about his sexual orientation and they are more than accepting. Peter never struggles with his sexuality or suffers from outward homophobia. The romcom is just as cliché as many other romcoms, it just so happens Peter is gay. It is a part of his character but it is not his only defining characteristic.
The only other Christmas romcom to feature LGBT+ main characters recently was The Happiest Season staring Kristen Stewart and Mackenzie David, released on Hulu last year. Still,The Happiest Season focused on David’s character coming out to her conservative family and Stewart’s character having to hide her identity in the meantime. There is no hiding in Single All the Way; all the characters are allowed to show their authentic identities.
Sure, Single All the Way doesn’t break any new ground or create thought-provoking storylines, but it shouldn’t have to. The LGBT+ community deserve storylines that all cisgender, straight people get, including formulaic Christmas movies. Hopefully Single All the Way will be a stepping stone to more diverse LGBT+ stories and characters, where sexual orientation is accepted as part of the character, not the entire plotline.