Like festive cookies, fuzzy Santa hats, and clumsy conversations around the dinner table, there are certain things that loudly signal the holiday season. Another Yuletide staple is the classic Hallmark Channel holiday rom-com, a cinematic vehicle for cheesy dialogue and predictable storytelling. Often depending on a reliable stable of actors who have perfected the art of phoning it in with a smile, Hallmark unleashes a slew of somewhat digestible movies teeming with holiday spirit. This year, the cable network shared 40 titles that it planned to air this upcoming season. None of the stories centered on queer characters—an aggressive oversight that one would expect from a company that had to be shamed into airing a commercial featuring a lesbian couple back on the air after yanking it off.
But it looks like Hallmark may finally be ready to join the rest of us in 2020: According to Out Magazine, a Hallmark representative has confirmed that the network is in “active negotiations” to include LGBTQ+ characters and storylines in future blocks of holiday programming after its 2020-2021 slate revealed a lack of queer inclusion. “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,” said George Zaralidis, VP of network program publicity at Hallmark’s parent company, Crown Media Family Networks. “We are committed to creating a Hallmark experience where everyone feels welcome.”
Hallmark’s holiday films are hardly festival darlings. Honestly, nobody really needs them to be: They’re somewhat brief, highly predictable nuggets of pleasant storytelling that desperately cling to the idea that true love can be found in that one struggling bakery in your small hometown. They’re cozy stories, and queer audiences deserve the same cheesy, trauma-free escapism that’s afforded to everyone else. Hallmark confirms that more details regarding the shift will be made available soon.