RuPaul  and new raunchy Christmas movies

RuPaul attends the 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards at L.A. LIVE on Sept. 19 in Los Angeles. Rupaul co-stars in a loose remake of Lifetime’s 2020 film “A Very Charming Christmas Town” in “The B— Who Stole Christmas.”

As the holidays rev into high gear, families everywhere will gather to wrap presents, trim trees, sip eggnog and bathe in the glow of the gift that never stops giving — the made-for-cable Christmas movie.

The annual downpour of peppermint-scented tales starring photogenic low- to mid-level celebrities has become a holiday-themed flood, boosting one of TV’s most reliable — and profitable — cottage industries. At least 145 new films are debuting this year on Lifetime, Hallmark, BET+ and numerous other networks.

Most of these titles — “Dancing Through the Snow,” “Gingerbread Miracle” and “Nantucket Noel,” to name just three — position the enchantment of Christmas as the cure for all ills: grief, depression, financial woes, loneliness and family estrangement. In these alternate realities, romances are chaste, political and racial conflicts are nonexistent, small-town values are sacred and there’s no such thing as a pandemic.

But this season, one network is giving the proverbial snow globe a vigorous shake.

NOT SUITABLE FOR KIDS

Viewers switching the dial might come across a tight group of girlfriends debating the dynamics of “tossing the salad” and the more delicate “eating candy” on their way to a Santa-themed amusement park, where they take ecstasy and other substances. Or a group of drag queens and proclaimed “sluts” dressed as dominatrixes competing in a Christmas carol competition, singing an X-rated version of “The 12 Days of Christmas.” Or a famous survivalist bragging during a talk show about eating “bull testicles” to increase his sexual appetite. Or a young girl spying on a department store Santa having sex with one of his “elves.” (After their tryst, “Santa” plugs his sideline job dancing in “The Stocking Stuffers — A Triple XXXmas Spectacular.”)

These scenarios and others appear in projects developed by Eva Longoria, Jamie Foxx, Nick Cannon and Kim Fields as they join forces with VH1 for its new “Naughty or Nice” holiday film slate. Spiced with raunchy dialogue, rowdy characters and outrageous shenanigans, the projects bring a sharper edge to the tried-and-true blandness of the Christmas movie genre.

“We wanted to break the mold in a loud way,” said Nina L. Diaz, president of content for MTV Entertainment Group, which is producing the films. “Christmas movies usually offer comfort food, which is great. But Christmas films that are disruptive, edgy and more diverse are long overdue. We wanted to have a modern, naughty-or-nice take on the classic genre. We also wanted to open doors to fresh voices and have a more inclusive slate of movies that you haven’t seen before.”

An undercurrent of sexual tension simmers between a workaholic talk show host and a famous outdoorsman in “Adventures in Christmasing” . RuPaul and 20 drag queens from his “RuPaul’s Drag Race” reality competition series provide mischievous mayhem in “The B– Who Stole Christmas,” set in a Christmas-obsessed small town (Dec. 2). Foxx is an executive producer of “Hip Hop Family Christmas, in which a prominent family of hip-hop musicians tries to reverse its scandalous image by participating in a live Christmas special (Dec. 6).

In “Let’s Get Merried” (Dec. 13), a heartbroken Christmas hater vows to get married during a bachelorette party at Santa’s Hamlet, where she and her posse talk about graphic sex and get high. And a gangsta rapper tries to turn his life around in “Miracles Above 125th Street” (Dec. 20).

Fields, Longoria and others participating in the VH1 films say they are unabashed fans of the traditional Christmas movie. “It’s one reason why I keep doing them,” said Fields, who reunited with her “Facts of Life” castmates for 2019’s “You Light Up My Christmas.” “These movies are feel-good magic. Our industry is notorious — in a good way — for providing that kind of experience.”

GENRE MAKEOVER

However, they agreed that the genre was due for a holiday makeover.

“The holiday movies are often overly magical or overly staged,” said Longoria, an executive producer of “Let’s Get Merried.” Our movie is raunchy as hell and hilarious, but it’s also down-to-Earth, closer to real life. These are real women with really complicated relationships and in different stages of their lives. I just love that it all takes place in a Christmas world.”

Much of the strategy behind “Naughty or Nice” is to bring more multicultural flavor to the genre, which has been criticized for spotlighting predominantly white casts. Hallmark and Lifetime have responded in recent years, and the casts for their films have become more inclusive.

Tia Mowry, Kelly Rowland, Tatyana Ali, Roselyn Sanchez and Rekha Sharma are among the stars featured in this season’s “It’s a Wonderful Lifetime” schedule on the cable channel, for instance, where many of the films’ romances are interracial. The network is also promoting its first lesbian romance holiday movie, “Under The Christmas Tree.”

But Longoria says the networks have a lot of catching up to do. “You can’t just check the box and throw the Black or brown person up on a poster,” she said. “There has to be representation behind the camera as well.”

Cannon (“The Masked Singer”) has a different agenda with the rowdy musical “Miracles Above 125th Street.” The film stars Cannon as a former gangsta rapper seeking redemption as he returns from rehab to help out his father’s struggling church.

Said Cannon: “I wanted to do the story of the Prodigal Son as a musical. The movies embodies hip-hop culture — the good and the bad. It shows the journey of an individual who really is looking for peace, family and love. I think everyone can relate to that.”

Diaz said the network will continue to produce offbeat and diverse movies to take on other holidays, such as Valentine’s Day and Halloween. “We want to keep doing movies that are unexpected and disruptive and have a unique spin on those timeless events.”

Copyright 2021 Tribune Content Agency.

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