Lifetime’s “Under the Christmas Tree” Is the Holigay Rom-Com You’ve Been Waiting For

I can’t stop talking about how shocked I am that there are so many gay Christmas movies now — and while I’ve been absolutely delighted with nearly every holigay thing on offer, something’s been missing. So many films! So many! But none of them just… hit the spot. There’s been supporting gays in Christmas movies with decent budgets, leading gays in Christmas movies made on a dime, there’s been Christmas movies that promised rom-com tropes but made y’all want to run over Mackenzie Davis with your own reindeers, and, of course, there’s Carol. But what about a very sweet, very low stakes romantic comedy that takes place in a town that might as well be the North Pole, where both main characters are queer women who have chemistry with each other, and every scene is just saturated with CHRISTMAS. Trees and lights and stockings and jingle-jingle-jingle bells and wreaths and caroling and every single movement punctuated by basically the Nutcracker score?

Well, I am very pleased to tell you Lifetime’s Under the Christmas Tree is exactly that movie, the one we’ve been waiting for.

Best of all, the leading actresses are Elise Bauman, who you’ve been knowing and loving for about a thousand years, since she first appeared on Carmilla; and Tattiawna Jones, who has been in at least five shows you watch, including The Handmaid’s Tale, The 100, The Bold Type, Lost Girl, and Rookie Blue.

Elise Bauman and Tattiawna Jones

The story goes like this: Alma (Bauman) lives and breathes Christmas, in large part because her family owns an old school Christmas business where they still hand-wrap gifts and send out paper catalogues. Charlie (Jones) is from the governor’s office and she wants one of the giant firs from Alma’s family’s property for the big state tree lighting. Alma’s parents think it would be a cool thing to do; the state will plant a thousand trees to replace it. Alma, however, has had just about enough changes in her life and doesn’t think parting with her beloved fir — the one her great-grandparents planted with their very own hands, the one that shades her chicken coop! — is a good way to celebrate this festive season. It’s more complicated than that, though, because from the second Alma and Charlie meet, they cannot stop making cartoon heart eyes at each other. Sometimes in the middle of the street, sometimes in the snow, sometimes in the dark, sometimes at the French patisserie owned by Ricki Lake.

“Do you think she’s gay,” Alma’s dad (who is also Veronica Mars’ dad) asks after meeting Charlie. “DAD!” Alma says, “Of course she’s gay.” (I laughed.)

Alma and Charlie both love Christmas, they both love their families, they even have a shockingly candid chat about their queer identities, just clip-clipping away at wrapping paper and tying bows. They are both so charming. If you loved Laura Hollis, you’re gonna love Alma too. There’s no surprises here, no twists and turns, it’s exactly the kind of formula we’ve all come to crave from our Christmas movies, the kind your mom could wake up to after dozing off on the couch, and just keep watching when she wakes up ’cause it’s adorable. This movie is freaking adorable! And that simple adorableness is actually what makes it subversive. This is the network that gave us The Truth About Jane, you know? Christmas tropes have now been officially queered. We’ve come a long way.

You can watch Under the Christmas Tree on Lifetime or stream it from Lifetime dot com.

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Heather Hogan

Heather Hogan is an Autostraddle senior editor who lives in New York City with her wife, Stacy, and their cackle of rescued pets. She's a member of the Television Critics Association, GALECA: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics, and a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer critic. You can also find her on Twitter and Instagram.

Heather has written 1718 articles for us.


  1. Alma’s dad was also Laura’s dad ! What a great dad !

    I’m looking forward to watching this.

    (Am I the only one who thinks Happiest Season was an exceptionally good movie with depth and growth and angst and humour and wisdom and a really strong happy ending ? k I’ll stop now)

    • Yes, yes and yes!! It is awesome. I loved it and found it to be very open and sweet. Nothing was held back, it wasn’t muted, they said lesbians, openly discussed if Charlie is gay and there was innuendo that was well, quite hot. It was affirming. The lead actress’s who played Alma and Charlie respectively were great. The rest of the ensemble were awesome too. I can’t say enough about this movie, it was exactly as I had hoped it would be for a Christmas Rom-com about a lesbian couple. I have watched it twice already and probably will watch it again. Enjoy!!

    • I watched it last night. I’ve never like, seriously watched a Lifetime or Hallmark Christmas movie before, it’s always been to point out how laughably bad the whole thing is. But this one I thought was actually pretty well done. The script was better than most of the other ones I’ve seen, and Elise Bauman and Tattiawna Jones are both very charming. The strap-on joke THREW ME I couldn’t believe what I was hearing lol. Plus, Enrico Colantoni, aka TVs greatest dad Keith Mars, is the dad!

  2. My jaw dropped so far with the harness joke. Loved this for being exactly the low stakes lifetime Christmas movie I wanted it to be. And my partner couldn’t even find things to complain about!

  3. This movie is NOT worth getting cable. Even a trial. I love Elise but I could not get through this. I got a free 7 day trial through a streaming company, but still somehow regret it. The acting and writing were so, so awkward. Again Elise does her best, but she has the worst wig on through out and she stuck trying to get out from it. The plot made some how less sense than normal and I didn’t find any of it believable (even by merry and bright holiday town standards).

  4. For me, this movie’s plot was in the “so ridiculous that it’s hilarious” category. Which is fine, as I was in no way there for the plot! I was there for seeing two cute queer girls flirt and kiss with snow falling around them, which is exactly what I got! <3

  5. along with the epic harness flirting, i also fucking love that the first (?) wlw lifetime xmas movie is about listening to and respecting trees, and protecting local economies. am i seeing what i want to see? yes i am and i love it.

  6. I totally agree. I went in with a very open mind, but I hated this. No chemistry, awful writing, red flags all OVER the place. Charlie is a nightmare embodying the pushy teenage guy role, and I could not get behind it. Even a charmingly bearded Keith Mars wasn’t able to save this for me… I would rather rewatch Happiest Season a zillion times instead, even with its incorrect ending.

  7. Wow. This movie! For some reason, getting it on Fire was annoyingly complicated (I have cable so already get it – just missed it). But Christmas evening, I persevered. It was just exactly the feeling that Christmas (and all the other holidays and celebrations at this time of year) should be. When it ended, I just turned off the TV and rode that feeling for the rest of the evening. THIS IS THE PERFECT LESBIAN HOLIDAY MOVIE. I said perfect and I won’t take it back.

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