With the holiday season now fully upon us, ‘tis time to snuggle up and enjoy a Christmas movie! Merry & Gay, the flagship film for the new lesbian/queer streaming service DIVABoxOffice.tv, is now available to rent or own. In celebration of Merry & Gay’s release, Film Obsessive sat down with director Christin Baker, as well as Dia Frampton and Andi Rene Christensen, the film’s two leads.
Merry & Gay focuses on the reunion of two high school sweethearts, Sam (Christensen) and Becca (Frampton). Sam stayed in their small town while Becca moved to the big city to follow her dream of becoming a singer. They haven’t spoken since Becca left. Sam’s and Becca’s moms (Hayat Nesheiwat and Janet Ivey) see Becca’s return for the holiday season as an opportunity to bring their kids back together.
Music plays a major role in this film because of Becca’s career on Broadway. Frampton herself is no stranger to the world of music. She’s in a band with her sister, Meg & Dia, and was the runner-up on the inaugural season of The Voice. In Merry & Gay, Frampton shows off her singing chops quite a few times. Frampton says she feels more freedom in acting because there is “beauty in some imperfections.” A flubbed line or a missed cue can create an entirely new scene and give Frampton more room to play than she has when performing her own music.
Frampton isn’t the only music lover involved. Baker has long dreamed of directing a movie musical. She feels she’s “destined” to direct one and was able to get a taste of it while shooting Merry & Gay. The film offers glimpses of Becca’s Broadway show, as well as a full-blown musical number later in the film. Instead of adapting a pre-existing musical, Baker has dreams of creating a brand new show.
Much has been made of Christensen’s character of Sam. They, both Christensen and Sam, are non-binary, and Merry & Gay is the first film of its kind to have a non-binary character in a leading role. With a statement like that, a certain level of pressure would be understandable, but Christensen didn’t feel it.
“Almost because their gender isn’t necessarily part of the story, it didn’t feel like some big hurdle or weight to carry,” Christensen says. “In the moment, it was never a thing…. [Now] it’s even more apparent how much this might mean to some people.”
Baker, Frampton, and Christensen share a profound love for the genre of romantic comedies and all the saccharine tropes that go along with them. “I laugh when people say, ‘oh, well, this is a predictable story,’” Baker smiles. “I’m having too much fun making them.”
Merry & Gay is not Baker’s first queer holiday romantic comedy. She directed Christmas at the Ranch, Season of Love, and I Hate New Year’s (also starring Frampton). She keeps returning to this genre for the same reason audiences do: their predictable sweetness. “They’re candy,” Baker explains when asked how she feels about the romantic comedy being seen as a lesser genre.
It’s a sentiment that’s echoed by Frampton and Christensen as well. Frampton was watching a Christmas movie prior to our interview, and Christensen gushed about how much they adore the classic ‘90s era of romantic comedies. “We need lightness, we need hope,” Christensen offered. “It’s a hard road out there.”
Frampton acknowledges that these films aren’t on the same level as The Godfather or The Deer Hunter, but that is never the intention behind a romantic comedy. To compare The Godfather and Merry & Gay would be a fool’s errand. Francis Ford Coppola did not set out to create a warm, heartfelt film when he made The Godfather. If that’s the standard it’s measured against, The Godfather fails.
Frampton talks about her brother-in-law recovering from surgery and the type of content he’s watching. “He probably doesn’t want to watch Deer Hunter right now,” Frampton laughs. He’s seeking out films and tv shows that are comforting in his time of recovery. Films like Merry & Gay act as a balm for this weary world, a break from the harsh realities we’re living through.
“Sometimes,” Frampton ends, “the escape you want is into a little snow globe world.”
Merry & Gay is now available on the new lesbian/queer streaming service DIVABoxOffice.tv. The service has a full catalog of over 100 entries of queer content. Check out the full-length interviews below: