Hallmark Channel is taking a small step forward in its strive for inclusivity and diversity in its storytelling. Their latest original movie, Saturday’s “Wedding Every Weekend”, features the first same-sex wedding on the network.
“Wedding Every Weekend” stars Kimberley Sustad and Paul Campbell as two single friends, Brooke and Nate, who attend four weddings in four weeks as each other’s plus-ones to avoid being set up by their friends — “a wedding buddy pact,” if you will. Of course, this being Hallmark, over the course of their adventures, the two friends end up falling in love.
Some of the weddings that the pair attend in the film include a traditional Jewish wedding, a biracial wedding and a same-sex union between Vicky (Carmel Amit) and Amanda (Makayla Moore). As Campbell explains in a behind-the-scenes video on the set of Wedding Every Weekend, the film “is acknowledging the fact that love is love.”
While Hallmark has, in the past, included LGBTQ characters and couples in its original movies, they have often been supporting characters. This is the first time a gay wedding ceremony has been featured in a Hallmark movie — a fact that is not lost on the actresses playing Vicky and Amanda.
“It really reflects the world that we live in now,” Moore said. “It’s exciting to celebrate love in all its forms.”
The women do share a kiss at the altar after saying “I do” in “Wedding Every Weekend”, though that moment is not included in the promos. After their kiss, they celebrate with their guests by holding raising their joined hands before stealing another love-filled glance at each other as everyone applauds. Later, Vicky and Amanda catch up with Brooke and Nate, who marvel over the “beautiful” ceremony.
This comes less than a year after Hallmark faced backlash after it pulled a series of commercials that included two women sharing a kiss at their wedding, prompting CEO Mike Perry to issue an apology and vowing “to better represent the LGBTQ community.” Since then, Hallmark has been the focus of calls to be more inclusive with its upcoming programming. (In July, Wonya Lucas was named the new president and CEO of Crown Media Family Networks, which includes oversight of Hallmark Channel.)
On Monday, Hallmark responded to a tweet criticizing “Wedding Every Weekend” and the diversity of the film’s content. “We are proud of our movie, ‘Wedding Every Weekend’,” Hallmark’s response read. “Our priority at Hallmark Channel is to develop a broad mix of content, characters and stories in order to create a Hallmark experience where everyone feels welcome.”
We are proud of our movie, Wedding Every Weekend. Our priority at Hallmark Channel is to develop a broad mix of content, characters and stories in order to create a Hallmark experience where everyone feels welcome.
— Hallmark Channel (@hallmarkchannel) August 10, 2020
The network promised in July that it was committed to telling LGBTQ stories after criticisms over the lack of LGBTQ characters and themes in its initial original Christmas movie slate, Hallmark’s signature programming event. (Details and casts for 18 of 40 films were released at the time.) Meanwhile, Lifetime made headlines in August for green-lighting original holiday films centered on a LGBTQ romance and an Asian American family.
“Diversity and inclusion is a top priority for us and we look forward to making some exciting programming announcements in the coming months, including announcements about projects featuring LGBTQ storylines, characters, and actors,” a Hallmark Channel spokesperson said in a statement to ET. “We are committed to creating a Hallmark experience where everyone feels welcome.”
Last February, ET spoke with frequent Hallmark collaborator Luke Macfarlane about the likelihood that a gay romance could be at the forefront of a future Hallmark movie.
“It’s interesting. As I’m developing my relationship with them, I’m always paying attention to what they’re doing next, and because I have so much faith in the brand. If they feel like that’s something that’s on the horizon for them, sign me up. Absolutely,” Macfarlane told ET. “And I know they’re really smart and I know that they are changing, so that is definitely a possibility. And I would support it.”
“Wedding Every Weekend” premieres Saturday, Aug. 15 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Hallmark Channel.
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