Happiest Season, the heartwarming new Christmas movie about meeting your girlfriend’s parents for the first time—while having to hide that she’s your girlfriend—features more out LGBTQ stars than any studio romantic comedy in memory. The movie, which comes out on Hulu on Nov. 25, boasts Kristen Stewart’s first real turn as a rom-com heroine, but its queerness doesn’t stop with its story or its top-billed star.
If you’re like me in that you automatically assume any film that throws around “Sappho” as a slapstick pejorative must’ve been made by more than a few friends of Dorothy, read on. We’re here to break down who is gay, who is bisexual, and who is just an icon.
Clea DuVall (Director and Co-writer)
Happiest Season writer-director Clea DuVall has been a part of lesbian film history for more than 20 years thanks to her role in the cult classic But I’m a Cheerleader, in which she played a gay teen forced to attend a conversion-therapy camp. She’s been candid about her coming-out journey since, while also continuing to star in and direct gay films, including her 2016 directorial debut The Intervention. Now, she’s at the helm of the very first queer holiday rom-com backed by a major studio.
Verdict: Famously gay.
Mackenzie Davis (Harper)
This isn’t Mackenzie Davis’ first gay rodeo. She first melted queer hearts in Black Mirror’s instant-queer-canon tearjerker “San Junipero.” She then kicked cybernetic ass in the film my colleague Christina Cauterucci described as the “gayest Terminator yet.” But is Davis herself a part of the LGBTQ community? Judging from a November cover story in the Advocate, it doesn’t seem like it. That said, she does seem a bit more gracious about taking on queer roles as a straight woman than people like Scarlett Johansson and Cate Blanchett, saying that, when she was first asked to take on the part, she asked DuVall “if it felt complicated that I hadn’t had this experience” and noting that “You need to know when you’re taking up space that should go to somebody else and when you’re participating in something that you’ve been invited into and have a role to play within that space.”
Verdict: Just an icon.
Dan Levy (John)
Out gay actor, writer, director, and producer Dan Levy takes on the role of the typical rom-com gay best friend in Happiest Season and knocks it out of the park. Between his feminist rants, sharp plaid peacoat, no-nonsense advice, and adoration of middle-aged women, the Schitt’s Creek star shines. I also simply don’t believe any straight actor could deliver the line “Have they ever met a lesbian!?” as hilariously as Levy does in this film.
Verdict: Totally, totally gay.
Mary Holland (Co-writer/Jane)
Relative newcomer Mary Holland cut her teeth in the New York improv scene before co-writing the script for Happiest Season and bringing an off-kilter wit to the role of Harper’s perpetually overlooked sister Jane, the Jan Brady to Harper’s Marcia. From Holland’s Instagram, it’s clear that she loves and supports the LGBTQ community. However, her posts make it a little bit unclear whether she considers herself a part of the community or just an extremely vocal ally. I’m still holding out hope, though!
Verdict: Inconclusive on the queerness front, but definitely on her way to becoming an icon.
Aubrey Plaza (Riley)
Since her deadpan Parks & Recreation days, Plaza’s been a favorite among the gays. In 2016, she discussed this very phenomenon, proudly declaring, “Girls are into me—that’s no secret. Hey, I’m into them too. I fall in love with girls and guys.” In Happiest Season, she plays the high-powered medical resident who also happens to be the ex-girlfriend of Mackenzie Davis’ character. She soon bonds with Kristen Stewart’s character, because nothing is more lesbian than befriending your ex’s new boo.
Alison Brie (Sloane)
In Happiest Season, Alison Brie plays Harper’s uptight older sister Sloane, the type who makes artisanal gift baskets for a living and gloats about how “Goop picked us up.” It doesn’t get much straighter than that. Though Brie discussed her art school days as including “girl-on-girl action” in a 2010 personal essay, she seems to have characterized those hook-ups as part of a larger moment of sexual exploration and not necessarily as part of a discovery in her identity. Given this, it appears she’s straight. She’s also been married to Dave Franco since 2017.
Verdict: Just an icon, probably.
Mary Steenburgen (Tipper)
Steenburgen plays Harper’s mother, Tipper, who spends her days consumed with her family’s image, obsessing over every Instagram shot. Though she’s pretty homophobic early in the film, scolding a queer character’s “lifestyle choice,” Steenburgen herself is anything but! In a 2018 interview with NewNowNext, during which she discussed her role in the delightfully campy Book Club, she said, “I have cared very deeply for a very long time about the gay community and been involved with being aware of anything that I could do to help legislatively since I was a young woman.” Though she’s not gay herself, we have no choice but to stan.
Verdict: An Academy Award winner, an icon, and an ally.
Victor Garber (Ted)
Though Garber plays the gruff, “family values”-oriented mayoral candidate in Happiest Season, the actor is openly gay. The legend of stage and screen married his longtime partner, Rainer Andreesen, in 2015.
Tegan & Sara (Soundtrack)
Lesbian musicians Tegan & Sara help the film don its gay musical apparel with their original song “Make You Mine This Season.” With lyrics like “You’re the only girl I’ve got on my list,” they bring the most explicit queerness to the holiday music catalogue I’ve heard since RuPaul’s “Hey Sis, It’s Christmas.”
Verdict: Gay & gay.
BenDeLaCreme & Jinkx Monsoon (Dive bar drag queens)
Speaking of RuPaul, one of the most delightful surprises of Happiest Season comes when Drag Race alums BenDeLaCreme and Jinkx Monsoon perform a rousing holiday number in the small town’s wonderfully vibrant gay bar. The warmth and spirit of their performance (and the venue) made me miss my own queer watering hole so dearly.
Verdict: Was the mention of Drag Race not clear enough?
Kristen Stewart (Abby)
Our leading lady of Happiest Season went viral back in 2017 when she taunted Trump in her Saturday Night Live opening monologue and declared, “I’m, like, so gay, dude.” She’s also called herself bisexual in the past and had public relationships with men (who could forget the days of K-Stew and R-Patz?) and women (I’ve never wanted to be in a throuple more than when she was dating Annie Clark, aka St. Vincent).
Verdict: Gay, bi, and, obviously, an icon.
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