Queer holiday rom-com “Season of Love” will deck your halls with Christmas cheer

For years I’ve been yelling into the void (Twitter) asking why we don’t have a Lifetime or Hallmark-style holiday movie featuring a lesbian or queer couple. It appears that my years of nagging paid off, but don’t look to those networks to bring you queer Christmas cheer. That mantle was taken up by Tello Films, the lesbian, bi and queer production and streaming site. Last year, Tello asked for creators to send in their pitches for a queer holiday feature, and many responded. The winner of the competition was Kathryn Trammel, who wrote a holiday love story featuring three queer couples. (Full disclosure, Kat is a dear friend and I’m endlessly proud of her.)

Season of Love is directed by Tello founder, Christin Baker, produced by Danielle Jablonski and Ashley Arnold, and stars Emily Goss (Snapshots), Dominique Provost-Chalkley (Wynonna Earp), Jessica Clark (True Blood, A Perfect Ending), Sandra Mae Frank (Daybreak), Janelle Marie (Espn Deportes), and Laur Allen (The Young and the Restless).

I admit, readers, there is always a little stress involved when I am reviewing a project made by people I know in the industry. Thankfully, with Season of Love, I had nothing to worry about because it’s delightful from beginning to end. As someone who loves holiday movies, seeing one where queer women get to take center stage and deck the halls was an absolute treat.

The stories all connect to each other, starting with Iris. It’s Iris’s (Goss) wedding day, and best friend Lou (Clark) and cousin Janey (Marie) are bridesmaids. Unfortunately for Iris, her fiancé Theo is a runaway groom, leaving his sister Mardou (Allen) to pick up the pieces. Janey is in the armed forces, and after being away from her girlfriend and high school sweetheart Sue (Provost-Chalkley) for a year, she manages to get stationed close to home. Sue is an aspiring musician who is afraid to let her voice be heard, content to melt into the background and take care of her ailing mother. Lou is a stress ball, opening her own brewery and lusting after her neighbor Kenna. After a set of misunderstandings, welder Kenna arrives at the brewery to help get it ready for opening and Lou realizes everything she thought about Kenna was wrong. DID I MENTION IT’S DAYS BEFORE CHRISTMAS?

Mardou (Laul Allen) and Iris (Emily Goss)

In SoL, we see love blossom in all kinds of ways. There’s slow burn (torturously good!), fast and passionate, and love that comes with time and dedication. Writer Trammell has done a terrific job connecting all the moving parts of the story, while taking the time to give each couple their due. Each coupling has terrific chemistry, but Goss and Allen take the fruitcake as Iris and Mardou. The two actresses find their groove right away and take viewers on a tension-filled sleigh ride of joy.

Janey (Janelle Marie) and Sue (Dominique Provost Chalkley)

Fans of Wynonna Earp will be thrilled to see Provost-Chalkley get a chance to use her real accent and sing like a partridge in a pear tree. (I’m sorry about the Christmas puns…or am I?) Her Sue is Waverly’s total opposite and it’s a pleasure to see her acting chops in a different type of role.

Lou (Jessica Clark) and Kenna (Sandra Mae Frank)

Frank, who wowed audiences in the Deaf West’s production of Spring Awakening, is a total delight as Kenna, Lou’s neighbor and crush who happens to be deaf. She has a way of really commanding your attention onscreen, and her chemistry with Clark is terrific. Clark, who is an out actor in real life, really shines in her scenes with Frank, and her character learns ASL in order to better communicate with crush.

This is also Christin Baker’s finest work as a director. She finds the funny in unexpected ways, and takes care with the film’s more delicate and tender moments. There are fantasy scenes that will have you laughing out loud, and cheering at the same time. After years of dedicating her whole heart to producing and promoting LGBTQ content, Season of Love is a real triumph for Baker, one she most certainly deserves. The score, filled with Christmas tunes and original music by Josh Alexander, really pulls you into the holiday spirit.

There are no coming out stories in Season of Love. While the coming out genre is certainly important, these characters know who they are and what they want, which is so refreshing. Their families support them, and the angsty moments come from the very human experiences of being in love or finding one’s place in the world. I give it 5 out of 5 golden rings.

If you long for a holiday movie filled with love, passion, laughs and cheer – made for queer viewers by queer women -then you won’t want to miss Season of Love. There are screenings of the film happening in select cities, but you can also watch it from the comfort of your own home soon too. You can even gift it!

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