Our Top Nine Lesbian Holiday Movies and Shows

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Look, we already know lesbian holiday movies are criminally rare! One day, we will open our streaming services to find a whole catalogue of titles featuring smiling lesbians just waiting to be watched. Next year we can look forward to the studio release of the Kristen Stewart lesbian Christmas romcom Happiest Season, directed by Clea DuVall, as well as an independently produced film called Seasons of Love (featuring six lesbian characters!), the future already looks brighter.

But in the meantime, let’s enjoy the handful of holiday titles we do have.

Let It Snow

credit Netflix – Steve Wilkie

Netflix’s latest Christmas release is an engaging, energetic comedy-drama, based on a young adult novel and set in a small Illinois town. High school seniors Tobin, Angie, Julie, Addie, Dorrie, Kerry, Keon, along with pop-star Stuart Bale spend Christmas Eve snowed in, worrying about their futures and relationships and looking forward to a holiday party. Especially moving is Dorrie’s plight. She’s a bright, confident and out gay woman who awkwardly encounters her old fling Kerry at the local waffle house where she works. Kerry now hangs with the cool (and mean) girls, and purposely ignores her. Liv Hewson plays Dorrie with such rawness, you’ll feel her heart-racing pain as she figures out how to approach Kerry while remaining true to herself. I only wish I were that out and confident in high school.

Lez Bomb

This 2018 comedy is the kind of slapstick fun you may need if the idea of visiting family seems more stressful than happy. Writer-director Jenna Laurenzo also stars as Lauren, a young Brooklyn woman in a happy six-month relationship with her girlfriend Hailey (Caitlin Mehner). However, Lauren’s family hasn’t a clue. Madness prevails when she tries to tell them on Thanksgiving Day. Laurenzo and Mehner make a believable couple, while veteran actors Cloris Leachman, Bruce Dern, Steve Guttenberg and Kevin Pollak give wonderfully witty performances.

Home For the Holidays

Yes, it’s true. This 1995 comedy does not have one lesbian character. But director and lesbian icon Jodie Foster’s subtle satire so hilariously captures the horrors of traveling back home—the crowds, endless travel delays, overbearing relatives—that anyone can relate. Holly Hunter plays a single mother who heads to Baltimore to spend Thanksgiving with her parents (Ann Bancroft, Charles Durning) and assorted eccentric family members. Things look up, sort of, when her favorite gay brother Tommy (Robert Downey Jr.) pays a surprise visit with a handsome stranger (Dylan McDermott) by his side. Is this mystery man Tommy’s boyfriend, or was he brought there for an entirely different reason?

Carol

Lesbian movie fans are the most patient people around. I mean, we’ve had to literally wait decades for that one mainstream hit movie that doesn’t end in tragedy. Todd Haynes’s 2015 drama is our classic, but it’s also become traditional Christmas viewing for many of us. Set in 1950s New York City, stylish, wealthy and married Carol Aird (Cate Blanchett) heads into a holiday festooned department store where she meets salesperson Therese Belivet (Rooney Mara). Carol and Therese fall in love and embark on a memorable Christmas and New Year’s road trip together. But can we talk about that heart-stopping ending? Two women looking for each other in a crowded Plaza Hotel restaurant oblivious to any judgment or repercussions. It’s a moment of pure bliss and a wonderful way to spend the holiday with a loved one.

What’s Cooking?

Writer-director Gurinder Chadha’s underrated 2000 Thanksgiving gem explores the funny and moving intertwining Thanksgiving Day stories of four families, African-American, Vietnamese-American, Mexican-American and Jewish-American. But for lesbian viewers, the story of happy lesbian couple Rachel (Kyra Sedgwick) and Carla (Julianna Margulies) may definitely hit home. The two have no plans for a dramatic coming out at Rachel’s parents’ house because her parents already know—they just don’t want to hear anything about it and don’t want extended family to know either. Sedgwick and Margulies handle their roles with grace, charm and some seriously priceless facial expressions.

Rent

If you prefer gritty realism over fluffy holiday movies, then this 2005 adaptation of the musical should fit the bill. Set on the New York’s Lower East Side, close friends Roger, Mark, Tom, Mimi, Angel, Benny, Maureen and Joanne struggle with relationships, poverty, greedy landlords, addiction and illness over the course of a year. Idina Menzel stands out as bisexual performance artist Maureen Johnson. She is dazzling in a protest musical number that literally starts a riot. Her personal life is less successful: her girlfriend Joanne (Tracie Thoms) wants firm commitment but Maureen has trouble stopping her flirting ways.

Orange is the New Black: Season One, Episode 13 “Can’t Fix Crazy”

Netflix – Orange Is the New Black

This action-packed season finale features the women of Litchfield struggling to find their inner holiday spirit as they prepare for the Christmas Nativity pageant. Soon, all hell breaks loose as they fall back into familiar patterns. Interspersed through the chaos are some lovely and memorable moments that will warm your heart. Cindy, Taystee and Poussey surprise us with a perfectly harmonized performance of “Joy to the World.” There’s also an unexpected tender moment between Big Boo and Lorna.

Master of None: Season Two, Episode 8 “Thanksgiving”

Netflix – Master of None

Lena Waithe shines in this gorgeous, highly praised episode focusing on Dev’s best friend Denise. This episode won Lena Waithe an Emmy for comedy writing. Through a series of brilliantly acted vignettes, Denise struggles with coming out to her family at Thanksgiving through the years. With the gentle support of Dev (Aziz Ansari), Denise slowly becomes more self-assured, but her mother Catherine (a superb Angela Bassett) is slow to come around.

Wynonna Earp, Season Three, Episode 6 “If We Make It Through December”

Netflix – Wynona Earp

The sweetly quirky opening scenes showing Christmas prep at the Earp house are oddly endearing in this holiday episode. While mom is digging out the bloody guts from her freshly caught turkey, sister Waverly is getting very loud and very busy upstairs with girlfriend Nicole. Wynonna, meanwhile, continues to sort out her feelings for Doc Holliday. Everything comes to a halt when Wynonna gets an urgent call about a missing child. So much for a peaceful Christmas day when you’re fighting the supernatural.

Did we miss your favorite holiday movie with an iconic lesbian or bi character? Let us know in the comments! Happy Holidays and here’s to more lesbian holiday stories in 2020!

 

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