Wrapped Up In Christmas
Stars: Tatyana Ali and Brendan Fehr
Director: Peter Sullivan
Released November 25, 2017 on Lifetime
Christmas is one of Heather’s favorite times of year but this year, as the manager of the upscale Town Center Mall, she has to be the Christmas Grinch and cancel the leases of under-performing stores. One afternoon, Heather’s niece, Molly asks the mall Santa to help find a boyfriend for her beloved aunt. Unbeknownst to Molly and Heather, “Santa” is actually Ryan, who is working at the mall for the holidays and helping his Aunt Patty run her failing toy store. As Heather and Ryan begin to fall for each other, they have no idea of one another’s true identity: Heather who is tasked with closing his aunt’s store and Ryan who is too ashamed to tell Heather that he is the actually the mall Santa. Will Molly’s Christmas wish come true, or will Heather be stuck as the Town Center Grinch?
Thanksgiving is behind us, which means it’s all Christmas, all the time—at least when it comes to made-for-TV movies.
Confession: I used to LOVE watching the Hallmark Channel for its original movies, especially the Christmas ones, along with shows like Chesapeake Shores. I loved the cheesiness, the feel-good vibe, and the happy endings. But several months ago, it occurred to me how Hallmark has a blatant problem with diversity in its casting. That is to say, it’s nonexistent.
It was always somewhat apparent to me whenever I’d watch one of their movies because the main characters were always white, but occasionally there would be a secondary character who was a person of color. Sometimes, they’d even be allowed to speak! Yet despite the Christmas movie machine that Hallmark continues to be every year (not to mention their original series such as Chesapeake Shores, an amazing town where no people of color dare to live), Hallmark fails to cast people of color in its leading roles. Needless to say, I was sad that I’d no longer be getting my Christmas movie fix…until now!
Lifetime’s original movie, Wrapped Up In Christmas, stars Tatyana Ali (Heather) and Brendan Fehr (Ryan). First, just let me gush about this casting because A) the heroine is a woman of color and B) it’s an interracial romance! 😍 Second, the supporting cast is pretty star-studded: Kim Fields, Jasmine Guy, Dan Laurie, and Jackee Harry, just to name a handful. But I wasn’t the only viewer loving this movie; check out the #WrappedUpInChristmas tag on Twitter to see other reactions, many of them commenting on the diversity and contrasting the movie with Hallmark.
Heather works in the management office for an upscale mall. While she normally loves the holiday season, this year is tough because she has the unfortunate task of being the bearer of bad news. Several stores have declining sales, so it’s Heather’s job to inform them that their leases will be cancelled. Happy holidays! In addition to a tough season at work, Heather has been unlucky in love. Heather’s niece, Molly, takes it upon herself to intercede on her aunt’s behalf with the man in red himself: the mall Santa.
Former attorney and current artist Ryan is helping his aunt out for the holidays. She owns a toy store in Heather’s mall, so Ryan is pitching in and working in her store temporarily. Ryan also finds himself helping out his friend and working as the mall Santa. After a meet-cute with Heather and a few more run-ins, Heather’s niece ends up confiding in Santa Ryan about how much Heather needs to find love.
Ryan’s already pretty smitten, so he makes it his mission to woo Heather. She’s hesitant at first, but eventually Ryan charms her and a romance begins to blossom. However, it’s just a matter of time before the cat’s out of the bag about the fate of Ryan’s aunt’s store—and how Heather is responsible for its demise.
I loved this movie so much. Aside from the primary romance, there’s a secondary one involving a bookstore owner and Heather’s coworker (twice the romance + more people of color!) and I need a sequel about those characters! I also loved all the family dynamics: Heather is close to her parents and sister, and Ryan is close to his aunt since she has basically raised him since his mother died.
While there’s conflict that the hero and heroine need to overcome, it’s resolved fairly easily, thanks to some ingenuity on Heather’s part. The ending is pretty swoon worthy, making this a true feel-good movie. For me, it’s basically a contemporary romance novel come to life.
I’m beyond thrilled that Lifetime made Wrapped Up In Christmas with such a diverse cast. It’s a stark contrast to Hallmark’s parade of homogeneous, interchangeable actors and actresses. Diversity matters. Representation matters. In addition to this, it’s a wonderfully heartwarming movie and I highly recommend it. I hope to see more like this from Lifetime this holiday season.
Rating: 5 stars