Tis the season for made-for-T.V. Christmas movies that you will likely never see — but some sleuths on Twitter found at least one good reason to pay attention to two of them: Too Cool For Christmas and A Very Cool Christmas, which both came out in 2004, are exactly the same in every way, except one version cast gay dads as the parents of a 16-year-old girl, while the other swaps out one of the husbands for a wife.
The gay version (Too Cool for Christmas) is available on Amazon Prime, while the straight one (A Very Cool Christmas) trades out one of the gay dads for a female actor and is on Hulu.
The plot of the movie is nothing spectacular. A teenaged girl wants to go on a ski trip with friends over the holidays rather than spend time with her family. (Will she learn a valuable lesson along the way? Watch to find out!)
Both films were directed by an out gay man, Sam Irvin, who spoke to Buzzfeed about the reasons behind filming two versions:
"Back in those days, there was a little bit less open-mindedness to having gay characters. [Filmmakers thought] they would have better chances of selling [the straight version] to those more lucrative markets, but also be able to do an alternate version."
Irving said at the time, during the late 1990s and early 2000s, he worked closely with Here TV, an American television network for LGBTQ audiences — but that it was difficult to get funding to finance entire movies on an LGBTQ platform. So they created two versions in order to make the project possible.
"The executives at these companies decided, if we could have some gay content in a movie that could run on Here TV that would satisfy our subscribers that are expecting gay content, but we could also repurpose it and do a quote-unquote straight version and try to sell that to Lifetime or those types of networks, that would be beneficial," Irving told Buzzfeed.
Twitter, of course, had a field day posting videos of the two versions running side-by-side with the Freaky Friday parent switch:
"Great, we have it! Now let's swap the actors and do it again." pic.twitter.com/kGpX2e3onp
— David F. Sandberg (@ponysmasher) November 11, 2019
Others wondered what it would be like to have "choose your adventure" casting options for everything we watched:
Now I'm imagining a feature where both movies are on stream and you can seamlessly switch like changing the language or the subtitles.
"Yes I'll watch this but in Gay"
— Yamazuya (@Yamazuya) November 11, 2019
Despite all the fun at the expense of these movies, we give major props to anyone willing to go to lengths such as these to increase positive representation of gay dads in the media — particularly back in 2004!