In Hulu’s new holiday film Happiest Season, Kristen Stewart and Mackenzie Davis play Abby and Harper, a happily cohabitating couple whose relationship is put to the test when Harper invites Abby home for the holidays only to reveal on the drives that—oops!—she hasn’t actually come out to her family. She asks Abby to pose as her straight, orphaned friend who needed a place to go for the holidays, and promises everything will be okay.
Unsurprisingly, everything is very much not okay, and what unfolds is a small scale disaster with emotional and political consequences. It all ends up okay—it’s a holiday movie, after all—but both Harper and Abby end up going through some shit before ending the film lovingly cozied up in flannel jammies together. (It’s not really a spoiler if it’s in the trailer. Plus, holiday movies almost always have happy endings.)
But what does it mean to Stewart, herself an openly queer woman, to be able to star in what’s arguably the first “out and proud” Christmas movie? Though she notes in the video above that her own coming out experience was relatively easy, she says that she still has anxiety about being herself openly and freely—and suspects other queer people feel the same way. With Happiest Season, she says, “it’s really nice to watch a movie that you get to completely rid yourself of that [feeling] knowing that you can laugh at that experience and that catharsis knowing that what you’re getting is an earned happiness. You get to laugh at these weird fears of saying the wrong thing around someone’s family or not being able to lie very well so maybe they’ll know I’m gay.” Stewart continues, “Even though I haven’t said I’m gay they’re going to know it. They’re going to feel it. They’re not going to like it. They’re going to judge it. They’re going to embarrass me about it, whatever. Watching that and laughing at it is the best way to release it.”
All that plus jokes about Dan Levy and Mackenzie Davis expounding on how she dealt with the issues and emotional complexities behind Harper’s late-period coming out can be found in the video above.