Last year, Hallmark Channel made history when it released its first Christmas movie featuring an LGBTQ+ storyline. The Christmas House, which starred Jonathan Bennett, Brad Harder, Robert Buckley, Treat Williams, and Sharon Lawrence, also included the first same-sex kiss in a Hallmark Christmas movie.
“The response was so absolutely overwhelmingly positive and joyous,” Bennett said in a recent television interview. “So many people reached out and said, ‘Hey, this is the first time I feel seen watching a Christmas movie, any Christmas movie.'”
Bennett was excited when Hallmark decided to make a sequel, Christmas House 2: Deck Those Halls, which will premiere on Saturday, December 18 at 8/7c.
He was even more thrilled when he found out that costumes, a prop, and a signed script from the original had been added to the archives of the Smithsonian Institution.
Bennett shared the news in an Instagram post with a caption that read, “WE ARE IN THE SMITHSONIAN! It is with extreme honor, Pride, excitement I am able to share with you that The Christmas House is OFFICIALLY PART OF HISTORY!”
The Christmas House
The Christmas House debuted on Hallmark Channel during the 2020 Countdown to Christmas season. In the movie, couple Phylis and Bill Mitchell (played by Lawrence and Williams) invite their adult sons (played by Bennett and Buckley) home for the holidays.
Both sons are preoccupied with their own lives. Brandon and his husband are trying to adopt a child. Mike is busy with his TV career. To get their sons in the holiday spirit, Phylis and Bill revive an old family tradition of transforming the inside and outside of the family home into a Christmas wonderland.
In a 2020 USA Today interview, Bennett said he thought the movie would be significant for the LGBTQ+ community.
“If I saw a movie that had a storyline like this – with a gay couple who are adopting a child and starting their own family with unconditional love – I think I would’ve felt a little less scared at Christmas,” he said.
In addition to earning a nomination for a GLAAD media award, The Christmas House also caught the attention of a Smithsonian archivist.
Franklin Robinson Jr. is an archives specialist with the National Museum of American History, which is part of the Smithsonian Institution. After reading a newspaper article about The Christmas House and watching the movie, he reached out to Crown Media about including photos and memorabilia in the museum’s LGBTQ collection.
He said the positive depiction of a gay couple during a major holiday on a “major and well-loved” network such as Hallmark was groundbreaking.
“I felt it was a benchmark that had to be included for future historians,” he said in an interview with Monsters & Critics.
Christmas House 2: Deck Those Halls
In the sequel, the two brothers are pitted against each other in a reality TV competition to create the most beautiful Christmas decorations for their homes.
Each brother enlists the help of a parent, and the competition gets fierce, Buckley said in an interview to promote the movie.
“Things go from cheery and festive to — ,” Buckley said.
“— hot and heated,” Bennett said. “And I’m not talking, like, a warm fireside.”
Treat Williams said it was fun to have everyone back together again.
“I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so hard,” he said.
Christmas House 2: Deck Those Halls will premiere on Saturday, December 18, on Hallmark Channel at 8/7c.