Hallmark’s first LGBTQ Christmas romance, The Holiday Sitter, is an indisputable, heartwarming hit. Sure, it has all the classic cringy romance details that might make some people deem it less significant as an achievement, but these are why it works so well because who doesn’t want a hilarious, delightfully cheesy romance that involves two opposites falling in love while forced to spend time together by an unexpected situation?
The warmth and spirit of Christmas, along with the unyielding love around them, is a treasure. The thing about holiday films is that we seldom want to see any of the darkness that’s out in the real world. We want joy and happy endings, and even when there’s grief or heartache, we want to watch couples walk through those perils together to come out stronger. In The Holiday Sitter, we get all the joy and so much more.
When Sam’s (Jonathan Bennett) sister and her husband need to drive to upstate New York because their surrogate is in labor earlier than expected, he has to change his holiday plans to babysit his niece and nephew. Sam is the type of (lovable) disaster who works from home and manages everyone else’s business while seldom giving himself a chance to celebrate life’s victories. He’s also terrible in the kitchen, but who’s counting? Actually, everyone is; his sister has receipts.
When he arrives at the house later than planned, his sister’s neighbor and soon-to-be beau, Jason (George Krissa), is the one watching the kids. Income the meeting when Sam goes to the wrong house, claiming they all look the same. (He’s not wrong. They do.) There they come to an agreement: since Jason is already working on the nursery, Sam will pay him extra to help out with the kids, so he doesn’t burn the house down. It’s already an opposites-attract match made in Heaven, but as the development continues, the character differences make the story a bigger treat.
The Holiday Sitter works as gorgeously as it does because the differences in both characters aren’t so overtly displayed where they’re rubbing it in your face. Yes, the men are opposites, but as they each navigate through the day-to-day activities in their own way, the story seamlessly allows the audience to understand why they’d complement each other so well. And the thing about Sam isn’t so much that he can’t do certain things, but he believes in others and their capabilities more than his own.
Since Jonathan Bennett also co-wrote the story with Tracy Andreen and Greg Baldwin, there’s a lot that he allows his character the freedom to play with. The same can be said about how Ali Liebert’s directing focuses on telling a story with nuances, heart, and a whole lot of organic banter. The thing about the romance genre is that, more often than not, writers try to make the banter so distinct that it falls in the apertures of feeling forced. That’s certainly not the case here as their conversations not only occur effortlessly, but the longing between Sam and Jason is so palpable that you’re itching to see them get together the second they start to bond.
What makes Christmas love stories so unique is that when it comes from a place with real character growth, it makes the plot feel much cozier. In this case, the narrative threads the idea of family expansions through a natural passage. Any kid who’s the oldest has had reservations about their parent bringing another one home. Thus, watching Sam wholeheartedly convince his niece Donia that her parents aren’t going to love her any less made his realization that he could also want a family to feel believable. There’s a comment during the big, grand love confession where Sam states that he doesn’t know where the future will go, and that’s exactly what tells us that this will be a good thing.
Because leaping toward something you sincerely believe in, even if it could fall apart, is the first sign that the love is worth it. So, yes, The Holiday Sitter gives us the kind of happy ending that works pleasingly enough to convince us that these two and their differences will make for the best, most gloriously chaotic fit.
- When one half of the pair watches the other doing something sweet while they stand by the door? Hello? I’m crying?!
- You’re vegan, by choice? Incredible. Jonathan Bennett was so good with the kids.
- Jason’s sweaters in this movie!? A++
- I have an aversion to characters who want to spend the holidays in tropical places, but then again, I don’t know; maybe if I lived someplace where it snowed or rained frequently, I’d feel the same. But from Los Angeles, I’m judging.
- No, but seriously who can resist a neighbor’s love story? I can’t. Never.
- FETCH. OH MY GOD.
- Was this filmed in the same place where Noel Next Door was? The houses look alike.
- “Yes, I cooked with fire.” Slow claps. Dramatic bow. So good.
- The angst during that ending? OOF. The song? Their faces. I was melting.
- Everyone watching them kiss at the end? Valid. They’re all of us. Heart eyes galore.
The Gift of Peace is now streaming on Peacock and Frndly TV.