The Christmas season is in full swing and holiday crazies don't have to look too far for new programming to get into the spirit. Netflix is delivering new content to help subscribers deck the halls and doing so in a major way. This year, Netflix is releasing their first-ever LGBTQ+-led romantic comedy, and it's a Christmas flick!
Philemon Chambers stars in Single All the Way, which Netflix also describes as its first gay rom-com. The film follows Peter (Michael Urie) an L.A. executive who has to head back home to New Hampshire for Christmas. Desperate to avoid being labeled as "the single one" for another year, he convinces his best friend Nick (Chambers) to join him for the holidays and pretend that they're in a relationship after Nick's own relationship turns out to be a bust. But when Peter's mother (Kathy Najimy) sets him up on a blind date with her trainer James (Luke Macfarlane), chaos ensues as Nick and Peter discover their platonic friendship might be more. The film also stars Jennifer Coolidge, Barry Bostwick and Jennifer Robertson.
PopCulture.com spoke with Chambers on the history-making film, LGBTQ+ representation in the movie, avoiding stereotypes, and why Single All the Way, out Dec. 2, will be a Christmas classic. Scroll through to read our full Q&A with Chambers. (It's also available in video form at the top of this article.)
PopCulture: We loved Single All the Way. It was very funny. It was different, but it also had all of the elements of an amazing Christmas movie, but for me, it was better. So you guys are definitely setting the standard. Obviously, we know that this is Netflix's first LGBTQ+-led movie, and it's a holiday flick at that. So do you feel the pressure, and did you feel pressure going into it to make sure that you at least did your job to contribute to it being an amazing film?
Philemon Chambers: I didn't necessarily feel that pressure that you just put on me [laughs]. I would say I felt a responsibility for the character and also for the story, but also for my cast. Michael Urie, Jennifer Coolidge, Jennifer Robertson, Kathy Najimy, Barry Bostwick. Everybody was so welcoming and so kind, and just there, if I needed them. We became this big family where if I just needed anything [they'd be there]. Because this was my first and this is my first feature film debut, and especially doing a giant like Netflix and coming in with that, it does cause some pressure, but of course, I've had people along the way to help me. So, I do say, I do feel a sense of responsibility, like I said, also for the representation aspect of it, because there are many different levels of representation in this, be it from family accepting son to just seeing queer characters be portrayed authentically and not stereotypically, so yeah.
That was actually another question that I had because I think that this film does a good job of representing a positive representation of same-sex relationships. And it really strays away from a lot of the stereotypical elements or some of them, and I guess you can say, cons to certain people's experiences with not having that support. So we see family support. We see two men in successful careers. We also have the interracial love aspect. So is that one of the reasons why you were attracted to the film?
Most definitely. When I got the script, I read it, and I was taken aback because it was so different from anything that I read, especially from a queer man's perspective, playing a queer character. Usually, the ones that we get are very stereotypical. Or, they want you to play up certain things. But this was just a story about two people going through life. And of course, I mean, me, myself, I grew up, my mother is White and my father is Black. So I grew up in that environment. And so for me, I just wanted to show what I've always lived with.
Well, you definitely did a good job of doing so. Now typically, are you a fan of the holiday movie craze? I feel like there's always a fine line between classic and corny, and I think that you guys have really done a good job of making this a classic.
Yeah. Honestly, the cast is so brilliant. Again, Chad [Hodge], who wrote it and believed in me to have and take on Nick. I'm super, super grateful. But yeah, I am a big holiday person, as you can see. I am a big holiday person. For me, I'm always into animation myself. I love The Grinch or anything in that realm, but also too, the classics like...Honestly, there's so many different classics. One that really does pop up into my head is the one my co-star kept on saying was the Muppets, their Christmas Carol. So anything like that again, yeah, I'm a big holiday buff, big holiday buff, love the holidays.
And there were some super funny moments in the movie that did play into, I don't want to give too much away, but that did kind of play into families' ... ignorance is a strong word, but ignorance in surrounding LGBTQ+ culture. So one of the scenes that was funny was when the aunt said something about a mention of Grindr. There was another scene where Christmas Carol...you guys pull up and it's that "sleigh bells" sign. So all of those little moments were funny. Was there anything behind the scenes that the cast really could have input in and say, "OK, this is something that's appropriate and funny." Was there a fine line there that you guys wanted to make sure you didn't cross?
Well, the beautiful part is me, Michael, Luke, our director, and also our writer, who is also our executive producer, we're all queer. So these conversations were had and especially coming from a Black queer perspective. Chad, our writer, and also Michael Mayer, our director, were very much asking me questions, even Joe Rice, our producer, was just asking me questions, "Is this OK? What do you think about this? Can we add this in? How do you feel?" So it was very much an open conversation and an open environment. And it was a really, really very light wholehearted set that honestly, yeah, we had those conversations, but I mean, everything I felt was, and it's right. I do. When you get rid of the homophobia of it all, you have so much room to play. You have so much room to play.
Now, what makes this film worth watching, do you think, for viewers?
I say that the film is worth watching because you get to see what it's like if people fully accept not only their kids, but their friends, people, they may not even know. I think we come from a society where a lot of it is judgment and not true acceptance. And this movie, it has so many layers of love, so many layers of representation, again, Black queer man playing a Black queer character. And I mean, even the stereotypes that are not being played into, it's just something that we have not seen. I've never seen it growing up. And now that it's being done, I feel like it is long overdue, but now that it's here, I am glad that everybody can watch it. And I think that in itself, a lot of messages can be taken, but one that I want to stand out is just love, unconditional love, unconditional love.
My final question is one of the things that I love about holiday films so much is that they basically just stand the test of time. They're played over and over again. And then obviously with streaming on Netflix, you definitely have that shelf life. So are you excited to be a part of that whole genre of a film that will stand the test of time?
I am. I am. Now that you mention it, that's the nerve-wracking part, because that is a thing. I'm not going to lie to you. I mean, we're going to be in 190 countries and 214 million homes. Yeah, yeah. I'm very taken aback every day. I have "pinch-me" moments, but yeah, I am glad to have something on Netflix this giant that people can go back and watch that... It could be Fourth of July, and they're, "OK, you know what? Let's watch a Rom-com."
Christmas in July!0comments
That's what I'm saying. So they can go back. They can watch it, and you can still get something from it each time. It just doesn't have to be... I don't feel like this is just a Christmas movie. I feel like this is a movie for the whole entire year.
Single All the Way premieres Dec. 2 on Netflix. You can watch our full video interview with Philemon Chambers above and see a full list of titles coming to Netflix in December at PopCulture.com.