Jeff kicks off the show talking about Superman: Son of Kal-El, and the recent issue where Superman came out and kissed a guy. Jeff & Will also discuss the new Netflix gay Christmas rom-com Single All the Way.
The guys have a deep dive discussion of one of their favorite Christmas movies from 2020, Dashing in December. They break down what they love about this movie featuring a guy who returns home for the holidays and ends up finding love and saving the family ranch.
Big Gay Fiction Podcast is part of the Frolic Podcast Network. Find many more outstanding podcasts at frolic.media/podcasts!
Here are the things we talk about in this episode. Please note, these links include affiliate links for which we may make a small commission at no extra cost to you should you make a purchase. These links are current at the time the episode premieres, however links are subject to change.
- Big Gay Fiction Fest website
- The Beatles Get Back on Apple TV
- Superman: Son of Kal-El on Amazon
- The Goodbye Girl on Amazon Prime Video
- Single All the Way on Netflix
- Dashing in December on Amazon Prime Video
- Baby Daddy on Hulu
- Days of Our Lives: Beyond Salem on Peacock
- Fuller House on Netflix
- Dallas (reboot) on Amazon Prime Video
- A.D.: The Bible Continues on Amazon Prime Video
- Juan Pablo Di Pace YouTube Channel
- Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan on HBOMax
- Groundhog Day on Amazon Prime Video
- Four Weddings and a Funeral on Amazon Prime Video
- Psycho Stripper on Amazon Prime Video
- Killer Dream Home on Amazon Prime Video
- Big Gay Fiction Podcast on Patreon.com
- Big Gay Fiction Podcast patrons on BGFP website
- Libro.fm website (use this link to receive your Big Gay Fiction Podcast special offer)
- Frolic Podcast Network website
This transcript was made possible by our community on Patreon. You can get information on how to join them at patreon.com/biggayfictionpodcast.
Jeff: Coming up on this episode, we’re going to the movies as we have a deep dive discussion of one of our favorite Christmas films, “Dashing in December.”
Will: Welcome to episode 350 of the Big Gay Fiction Podcast, the show for avid readers and passionate fans of gay romance fiction. I’m Will and with me as always is my co-host and husband, Mr. Jeff Adams.
Jeff: Hello, rainbow romance readers, it is great to have you here with us.
As always, the podcast is brought to you in part by our remarkable community on Patreon. Thanks to L and Sharon for recently joining the community. If you’d like more information about the bonus content we offer our patrons, head on over to patreon.com/biggayfictionpodcast.
How did it feel to say the number three fifty?
Jeff: Have we done this so long these 50 episode milestones don’t mean so much anymore?
Will: This show always means something.
Will: It is the cornerstone on which I built my life.
Jeff: It is exciting to roll past another milestone as we hit episode 350.
We also hit another milestone this weekend, the Big Gay Fiction Fest happened. And in case you missed the Fest where we’ve talked with authors Lucy Lennox, Annabeth Albert, Garrett Leigh, and Charlie Novak, and even had a Holiday Story Time with E.J. Russell and Kirt Graves, well fear not the Fest is going to be available forever.
So you can still go over to biggayfictionfest.com, click to get your spot to this 100 percent free, online book festival and watch the Fest anytime you want. And if you did go to the Fest, well thank you for being there on the first weekend. Of course you could always go back and have replays as well.
Now, before we get into some more Christmasy things, I do have a couple of non-holiday things that I would like to quickly talk about.
While it has nothing at all to do with big gay fiction, I just have to take a moment to say how outstanding I thought “The Beatles Get Back” documentary was. We watched the eight hour extravaganza this past week, and I was absolutely mesmerized being a fly on the wall, watching the Beatles at work.
Now for those who don’t know, “Get Back” chronicles three weeks with the Beatles in January of 1969, as they worked on songs for the album that would eventually become, “Let It Be.” And at the time they were considering a TV special as well, which is why there were so many cameras covering this particular recording. The film, “Let It Be” uses some of the same footage, but this particular documentary goes well beyond what “Let It Be” showed.
I absolutely loved watching how the band created. How they’d work with melodies or lyrics over hours and days, and eventually they would morph into the classic songs that we know. And of course that comes with all kinds of creative breakthroughs and more than a few tensions, because you know, the Beatles were already on their verge of the breakup by this point.
In particular, it was fascinating how, on two separate occasions, while the filmmakers were focused on discussions among other band members and other things happening in the studio, that Paul McCartney would be just playing around and suddenly a recognizable riff would emerge and, from there, it would just keep growing. Hearing “Get Back” and “Let It Be” evolve over the course of the documentary was an amazing look at the creative process at work.
And I would say, even if you’re not a Beatles fan, I’d recommend you give this documentary a try just for the opportunity to watch the creative process, because it was, like I said, I can’t say enough how fascinating it was. And if you’re interested in that you can catch “The Beatles Get Back” as it streams on Disney Plus.
The other thing I want to talk about is more connected to big gay fiction and that is the latest series of “Superman” comics called “Superman: Son of Kal-El.” Now I haven’t read superhero comics since the early nineties, going back to the “Death of Superman,” which happened in ’92 and ’93, but “Superman: Son of Kal-El” brought me back to superhero comics when it began this summer. And you may have heard about this in the news because in this series, Superman gets a boyfriend.
The series focuses on Jon Kent, the son of Clark Kent and Lois Lane. And before this series begins, it’s already established that Jon has traveled in the past with his Kryptonian grandfather, and has lived in the future with the Legion of Superheroes. And, he knows the day is coming where his father will no longer be able to be Superman. Jon’s been trained for that, but he’s still not ready when it happens. And, that goes down early in this series while Jon is dealing with so many issues that our present day Earth does, things like climate change and wildfires, school shootings, the plight of immigrants.
He’s got a target on his back as he continues to do this good work because there’s a tyrant president in the nation of Gamorra, who among other things is turning people into weapons in ways that aren’t yet fully revealed, but don’t worry Star Labs and The Flash are working on that though. The storyline and how it ties in so many ways to the reality we live in was very interesting, and of course, quite enjoyable to watch Superman battle for what’s right.
Now as John’s dealing with all of this stuff going on, he meets Jay, who is part of the resistance to what’s happening with Gamorra. Jay also has powers, which make it very difficult to hurt him. In issue five, which came out of the very end of November, there is some of the sweetest scenes between John and Jay, as they move beyond kind of the meet cute that they had back in issue four, and grow closer and closer to each other.
I was truly amazed how the artwork came across in these comics to just convey how these two feel about each other. Even when they’re not speaking, it may be looking at across a room at each other, really good job on the artwork there. It was just like swoon worthy stuff. Now Jon’s been zapped by some ray courtesy of that president of Gamorra, and it has made him hypersensitive to everything. What he can hear, how strong he is, and it’s Jay who gives him a safe space, makes it possible for him to rest and get away from all the noise in his head.
Like I said, they’ve been making eyes at each other since they met an issue four but it’s in issue five that they kiss. And again, the artwork here is just so incredible. I would love a poster of that page of them kissing because it’s just everything. Now, sadly, after that kiss, Jon has to go because there’s saving to do. He leaves his cape with Jay saying, I’ll be back for it soon. I promise. How “Goodbye Girl” is that when Richard Dreyfuss left his guitar with Marsha Mason at the end of that movie? Oh my God. I was just so into it.
This, of course, isn’t the first time a superhero has come out in comics, but certainly for Superman to be kissing a boy is a huge deal. And it was so awesome to see. I love the action in this comic book. I love the romance. I’ve actually subscribed to this series and look forward to seeing where all of this goes.
And I have to say it’s been quite a while, going back to some of the “Kevin Keller” comics that came out as part of the “Archie” series that I’ve read a comic on a tablet. Amazon and ComiXology have really made it a great experience where you can either look at the full page on the tablet or double tap in and it’ll move you through panel-to-panel to make it a really great user experience. I was so pleased with that.
Anyway, if you’re into superheroes, or you’re into comics, or you want to see how a romance plays out in a comic, I do recommend “Superman: Son of Kal-El” if you want a wonderful dose of superhero romance. And it seems like a lot of people did because I heard recently even the printed edition of issue five went into a second printing and that just doesn’t happen a lot in comics anymore. So that was really cool to read.
Shall we move over to some more holiday stuff now?
Will: Yeah, for Jeff and myself, we’ve been living the holiday life for several months now, since before Halloween. So we’ve been up to our neck and festivities, and loving every second of it, including all of the wonderful holiday movies that hit the airwaves this time of the year.
But, we wanted to call out one particular “Single All the Way” is the Christmas romcom that premiered on Netflix this past week. It’s funny, and it’s sweet, and it has oodles of charm. It’s about a guy who asks his best friend to come home with him to New Hampshire and spend the holidays with his wacky, lovable family. They want to make sure he’s happily in a relationship and set him up on a blind date. And, it’s over the course of the story that the two friends realize they’ve been in love all along.
And that’s it. That’s the plot.
It’s a super low angst, friends-to-lovers scenario and I found it so enjoyably chill. Like I could just sit back, and relax, and enjoy the simple, satisfying sweetness of it all. Michael Urie, Philemon Chambers, and Luke Macfarlane are terrific as the main characters. And they’re supported by a who’s who of some of the funniest people in the business as Michael’s wacky family.
Jeff: I also just found this movie an utter delight. And I really liked how it played with some of the usual tropes because there’s fake dating that gets brought in here. There’s the family doing the whole meddling, trying to do the setups. There’s different plays on that. It was just such a delight because it took those tropes and then tweaked them in ways that I really enjoyed, that I’m not going to give up here because I’m not going to spoil the movie for you.
One of my absolute favorite moments though, I have to say, there’s of course, a Christmas pageant that has to be put together within this movie. And Jennifer Coolidge who plays the wacky aunt is directing. And I have to say she also stars in the pageant sort of amongst all the kids. It’s a very Moira Rose turn if I’m, to be honest. Like if you’ve seen “Schitt’s Creek” and you’ve seen some of the wacky stuff with Moira and the roles that she takes on periodically, it was just so brilliant. I kind of cracked myself up all the way through that.
Will: So “Single All the Way” is available on Netflix. We think you should add it to your holiday watch list, especially if you’re a romance reader. I think you’re really going to be into it.
Dashing in December Discussion
Will: So we would really like to continue to share our love of Christmas movies by talking about one that we particularly enjoyed last year. It’s called “Dashing in December.” And it originally aired in December, imagine that, of 2020 on the paramount network. And it features to out and proud actors as our romantic leading characters.
The first of which is Peter Porte as Wyatt. Now Porte is a Christmas TV movie veteran and has done several that count among Jeff and mine’s face. There’s lots of TV in his resume from comedy like the sitcom “Baby Daddy,” to dramas, such as roles on the “Young and the Restless” and a part in this past summer’s Peacock limited series “Days of Our Lives: Beyond Salem” where he foiled jewel thieves and danced to tango with “Real Housewife” and “Days” vet Lisa Rinna. In this movie he’s terrific as the business-minded Wyatt, who must go up against the down to earth cowboy played by Juan Pablo Di Pace, who like as CoStar has a lot of TV in his background, comedies like “Fuller House” and dramas like the “Dallas” reboot and even playing Jesus Christ himself in the miniseries, “The Bible Continues.”
If that wasn’t enough, he’s also done a stint on “Dancing with the Stars.” He’s also a great singer and has been the lead IN productions of “Grease” and “Chicago” and “Saturday Night Fever,” playing those roles and London and Europe. His YouTube channel with some of those performances is pretty impressive and a lot of fun. So give that a look sometime if you have the chance.
Now backing up our two heroes is Andie MacDowell as Wyatt’s mom Deb. MacDowell, if you don’t already know, started her career as a model and made her big screen debut as Jane in 1984’s “Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan,” where her mellow South Carolina’s accent was dubbed by another up-and-coming actress, Glenn Close. She has literally been in and done everything. Some of them, of course, genuine classics like “Groundhog Day” and “Four Weddings and a Funeral.” She’s gorgeous and classy in everything that she does, including “Dashing in December.” Needless to say, she looks stunning here.
But as a side note, I thought her wardrobe was particularly on point. Like Deb just stepped out of a Ralph Lauren holiday ad. She’s upscale, but down to earth with ensembles that are always impeccable and timeless and effortless, like I’m Andie MacDowell and I just woke up like this.
Jeff: And it fits so perfect with the winter, Colorado scenery too. You’re right. It could have all been a catalog shoot.
Will: She’s so amazing. So enough about wardrobe and screen credits. Let’s get down to what “Dashing in December” is all about.
So the movie opens with B roll of New York City at Christmas time. And those of you who are familiar with this kind of movie, it’s all stuff that we’ve seen before.
Jeff: But, you know, it always makes me homesick a little bit for New York, because I was always enchanted by the city at Christmas time.
Will: And just to make extra sure you know, where we are and what time of year it is, we are introduced to our hero Wyatt and he is standing at a window, and the Empire State Building is illuminated in festive red and green in the background.
Wyatt is at a holiday office party and he’s busy chatting with an older couple, one of whom is his boss, and they’re making standard office party small talk while at the same time establishing Wyatt’s state of mind at the beginning of our story. He’s recently come out of a relationship. He’s very work oriented, and gunning for a big promotion. But most importantly, they talk about how he’s reluctant to go home to the struggling family horse ranch in Colorado.
He mainly doesn’t want to go because of work commitments, but his mom doesn’t quite seem like herself and he really should go and visit because he hasn’t in quite some time. And to drive home the fact that our hero is very available, and obviously very gay, we end the scene as he smiles at the incredibly attractive guy who is tending the bar.
Jeff: Yeah. Because you don’t get that news when he’s talking about the relationship that he just got out of, because it’s an ambiguous name. Could be a guy, could be a girl. And so it’s those clues that set up right there that he is if not gay, at least bi because it hasn’t been spelled out completely yet.
Poor Wyatt. He is every put upon person we’ve ever seen in a movie like this. He’s driven for that promotion. It’s how he wraps up his happiness, who knows the last time that Wyatt was truly happy based on what we see here, because he’s not a happy guy. He’s trying to use work as the thing that’s going to make him happy because, of course, he thinks that big promotion is exactly what he needs.
Will: Meanwhile, back at the ranch, we are introduced to Deb ,Wyatt’s mom, and Heath. He is the all around ranch hand. And, Blake. She’s the local veterinarian who once upon a time also dated Wyatt. Now Deb is all thrilled and she’s super excited that Wyatt is finally coming home for the holidays for the first time in many years.
And since this particular establishing scene takes place in the stables, we also get to meet Dasher, Wyatt’s horse.
Jeff: I love this scene. I love the establishing of Deb and Blake and Heath. The dynamic you could tell that these three have honed over several years, especially since Wyatt has been away from the ranch. They banter, you can tell they enjoy the work that they do. And sure Blake’s not hanging out at the ranch all the time, but there’s veterinary work to do. And she’s a family friend and she’s a friend of Heath. She is around and helping out.
I particularly, for some reason, as we rewatch this, this year, really like Deb. She was really just like the mom you always wanted, even the grandmother that you would want. She was just, I don’t know, something about her just radiated warmth and home and holiday magic. I don’t know. I really, even from this scene, I really enjoyed her.
Will: Well, I, of course, 100% agree with you. Andie is an absolute delight. I think everyone does a wonderful job, especially in these opening sequences. If you’re as familiar with these kinds of movies, as we are, the first few scenes, essentially, the first 20 minutes of a TV movie, have got a lot of heavy lifting to do. You don’t have a lot of time to introduce the characters, establish the relationships, and give us an inkling about what the story is going to be all about.
And so far, I think “Dashing in December” is doing everything right. We quickly understand who these people are and their relationships. And once Wyatt arrives at the ranch, we’re going to get a better idea of the conflict and the romance that’s going to be happening in the rest of the movie.
Jeff: And you’re so right about those first 20 minutes. That’s the make or break point for you and I. Typically it’s like, if that first 20 minutes sings, then we’re going to keep going with the movie. But if that first 20 minute fails, it could turn into a do not finish moment because we will not suffer through a movie that doesn’t set itself up well. We often look at each other while we’re sitting on the couch, watching these movies going, are we going on with this? If we’re looking at each other that way, that probably means that we are not continuing with it at the 20 minute mark. “Dashing in December,” it just ticks all the boxes in those opening minutes.
Will: So Wyatt arrives in Colorado and after I drive through the mildly snowy landscape. He arrives home at the ranch. Deb actually has a quick throw away line here that they haven’t had much snow this year. And the reason, of course, why there isn’t much snow is because they shot the movie in September. And in the case of this particular movie, I think they do a respectable job of simulating the Christmas season.
If you’re the kind of viewer who’s going to nitpick that it’s not a true Christmas movie if it’s not a. 100% winter wonderland, then obviously these may for TV Christmas romcoms aren’t for you. Like I said, I think this movie does a really decent job giving us a holiday vibe within the obvious limitations they were working under.
I particularly loved the location that they chose, which was in Utah. The landscape is beautiful. You’ve got the trees and the mountains and the wide open plains. And the particular ranch where they shot the movie, it provides a really great backdrop for the story.
Jeff: Yeah. I wouldn’t mind hanging out on that ranch, even during September in the fall. And they do a really nice job of making it feel like Christmas. I think one of the ways that they do that too is that this movie really doesn’t take place in a lot of locations so that you didn’t have to decorate a downtown very much, or some small town locale. They’re pretty much on the ranch. I’d say 90, 95% of this movie is on the ranch itself. And the other locations that you’re at are actually indoor locations where they can festoon in all the holiday grandeur they want. But yeah, I didn’t have an issue here. I’ve had far more issues in other movies where it’s like, are you sure it’s Christmas? Cause I’m not sure.
Will: So Wyatt arrives and he promptly steps in some horse poop.
Jeff: In his fancy shoes.
Will: And Deb is happy to see him despite the fact that he’s kind of acting like an uptight douche. I think it’s obvious from the get go that part of Wyatt’s character arc is going to be finding his Christmas spirit.
Jeff: Well, not just as Christmas spirit, but coming out of the funk that he’s clearly been in for a few years, that we kind of dig into more here. It’s more than just Christmas spirit and finding a romance. He needs to find a better version of himself.
Will: Heath and Blake join them for dinner up at the main house. And things are immediately kind of crunchy between our two heroes. Wyatt keeps calling Heath, Hank. And, he insults the wine that Heath brought for dinner. Dinner conversation covers Wyatt’s career trajectory as a venture capitalist, and also how Heath lives and works on the ranch, really keeping it running, and operating the Christmas carriage rides.
Jeff: It’s why that snow is so important, those Christmas carriage rides. I think that’s why Andie had that throwaway line too. Cause that’s part of, potentially why the ranch isn’t surviving as well, because they haven’t had as much snow yet as they might have in a typical Christmas season.
I felt kind of bad for Wyatt in this scene, which is odd because he clearly being the douche so often here, but he has no idea, essentially, the family dynamic that he’s come into here, especially between his mom and Heath. Because Heath has been there we find out for some three years, and it’s a little odd to me that Deb didn’t say, Hey, this ranch hands here and he’s helping me out a lot, doing all these things.
Wyatt’s come into this dynamic where clearly Heath and Deb banter all the time and have their own thing. And now he’s kind of stepping into that and essentially trying to reassert himself, as you know, I’m a family member you have to listen to me and have a certain reverence to me. And Heath’s having none of that because he’s been on the scene a lot longer, helping out more than Wyatt certainly has been in the last few years.
Will: The Christmas carriage rides are essentially the ranch’s seasonal side hustle, similar in the way that maybe an apple farm would have apple picking in the fall.
Jeff: Maybe a hay ride. Other do dads.
Will: Or corn maze during Halloween. The ranch has the Christmas carriage ride, which is actually a ride on a carriage.
Jeff: With a pony.
Will: With a, with adorable ponies, through a landscape that has been festooned with lights and has little Christmas scenes. Speaking of ponies, we also learned during this conversation that Wyatt’s horse Dash and Heath’s horse Snowbell have a little romance going on.
Jeff: Awww. A little extra romance for the movie.
Will: And proving that Wyatt has no sense of timing, it’s now that he proposes to Deb that they sell the ranch because it is losing so much money. He actually pulls out a prospectus, which has details of area comps. And it’s just like, Ugh, dude, read the room.
Jeff: Yeah. As many business deals as he’s ever done to get to where he is, you would think he would know, maybe not to pull that out in the middle of dinner, especially, come on, with your family and among guests. That’s something that you should maybe keep between you and your mom and not the family friend and the staff. It’s like, oh, dude.
Will: Yeah, that brings dinner to a swift end. And in the morning, Wyatt visits Dash in the stables. Mr. Horse is not impressed.
Jeff: It’s been a running conversation till now that Wyatt kind of needs to apologize to Dash because of the length of time he’s been gone. And sure enough, the horse is really like, you’re here, great.
Will: Deb tells Wyatt that she has looked over the proposal and if he wants to sell, she will consider it. And it’s here that we learned that he’s the one who’s been paying the property taxes for some time, essentially keeping everything afloat. He wants to know if she’s truly happy and what exactly is she holding on to by staying at the ranch?
I think it’s here at this, you know, mother, son moment that we learn that Wyatt’s motives aren’t completely mercenary.
Jeff: Yeah. He was just going about them all wrong.
Will: Granted he has his own issues with the ranch and wanting to sell it personally, but his mom isn’t quite herself. And I think he’s making a genuine attempt to try and solve the situation that they’re in.
Jeff: I would agree. And it’s an interesting pivot on the normal situation we find in these kind of movies, because it’s usually the parents are selling the childhood home, and the child’s like, wait, no, don’t do that. I grew up here. I have memories. And in this case, it’s a little bit of a pivot that the it’s the child who’s suggesting to sell the family property for different reasons and at least partially because his mom may not be happy there anymore.
Will: At the hot chocolate stand by the carriage rides, Wyatt and Heath get into a bit of a tiff about selling. Heath has lots of great ideas, but Wyatt rejects all of them out of hand. The ranch has always been a money pit and it always will be. Wyatt is quite honestly being a bit of a dick right here, but he’s not wrong.
Later while he is going about his chores, Heath spots Wyatt covering his mother’s hydrangeas for the season. Now this might seem like a quick throwaway moment, but what it’s doing, it’s helping Heath realize that Wyatt might be a dick, but he does care about some things.
Jeff: Yeah. He cares about his mom. He cares about what his mom cares about and he does care at least a little bit for some things on the ranch, such as these hydrangeas on the porch.
Will: And to continue driving that point home, that night at the local Christmas fair, Heath is commiserating with Blake about what a jerk Wyatt is. And, she breaks the news to him that Wyatt’s the one who’s been keeping the ranch running and essentially paying Heath’s salary and her vet fees.
Jeff: Yeah, Blake knows what’s up.
Will: Yeah. He might seem like a Scrooge, but he does care.
Heath is dropping off a poinsettia arrangement for Deb at the main house, and he’s making some tea in the kitchen when he is surprised by Wyatt and he scalds his hand. And while running his hand under the cold tap, the two of them share a moment, a kind of momentary cease fire by the kitchen sink.
Jeff: Yeah. This is a nice turning point moment, because until now they’ve just been sniping at each other in a very cute way. I have to say, in this viewing that we did to prepare to record this, I found so much more entertainment and humor coming from their kind of sniping at each other, just because of the way that they do it. Particularly Heath. He is charming while he’s sniping at the same time. It’s very interesting.
But here at the sink, they kind of have a moment to connect a little bit more in a very different way than people on opposite sides of selling the ranch or not selling that ranch. This is more like just two people interested in each other connecting and I really liked how it just took a hard shift from the startle to the more tender. Tender might not be the right word, but it’s a more, almost human moment between these two, because they’re not sniping for once.
Will: Yeah. Wyatt shares that the holidays make him think about the things that are missing from his life. And he also surreptitiously mentions being gay. Info that is heretofore been unknown to Heath, and it adorably flabbergasts him. But now at least they’ve got some shared experience. Growing up gay in small town Colorado comes with its own set of challenges.
And like you said earlier, I think this getting to know you segment is really charming and a lot of fun.
Jeff: It’s a very nice tone shift for these two.
Will: So really briefly, I want to take a second to talk about the guy whose been making all of this happen behind the scenes. Jake Helgren wrote, produced, and directed “Dashing in December.” He has a lot of experience with Christmas movies, just like this. And he’s done a ton of Lifetime movies, like “Psycho Stripper,” and “Killer Dream Home.” And if you’re familiar with Lifetime movies, you know exactly what kind of stories those particular movies. I’ve seen “Killer Dream Home” it is amazing, but that’s a whole other discussion for another time.
I personally think Jake is firing on all cylinders here. Obviously he knows what he’s doing when it comes to these types of Christmas romances because as we mentioned earlier, it does an excellent job of setting up familiar tropes. But I also think he’s doing an amazing job with the romance itself. We opened with the kind of combative enemies-to-lovers situation with Heath and Wyatt, and as the story progresses, and they learn more about one another, and getting to know that there’s actually a person behind those earlier preconceived notions. These are all classic romance story beats. And like you said earlier, it was on the second viewing that I realized once again that this is just really damn good. And I’m enjoying the hell out of it.
Jeff: It’s like a perfect category romance. He hits all of these beats as a writer and then he just puts the story up on the screen with all the good directorial bits that he throws into his own script. I mean, it’s really ideal the way that the story is crafted.
Will: While sitting in front of the tree with a cup of tea, Wyatt asked Heath why the ranch and specifically working there means so much to him. And he shares a story of when he was a kid and his dad had left him and his mom. His mom was so sad until one holiday they came to the ranch for the carriage ride. It was the lights and the people, and it just all made things a little bit better. And for Heath, the ranch is important because it represents joy and hope.
Jeff: And if that doesn’t give you a reason why Heath now wants to fight for the ranch, I don’t know what would. It’s as much, in a sense, home for him, going even further back than the years that he’s worked there, because of what it represents to him as a kid. So he’s got all the more investment in the ranch, and even in the family that runs the ranch now because of what it meant to him as a kid.
And I just love that extra little something that the ranch is more than a recent thing for him, that it goes all the way back into his past. It makes everything much more powerful with why he’s reacting the way that he is. As you said, the writer knows exactly what he’s doing here to bring all these pieces together.
Will: The next morning, Dasher is in a much more forgiving mood and Wyatt and Heath go for a ride together, showcasing the beautiful landscape of the location that they’re in, while also extending the getting to know you phase of the romance.
And after that Blake gets the whole gang together cause they’re going to go out drinking and dancing.
Jeff: Because you have to, in a cowboy romance movie, you got to go to the honkytonk.
Will: I really enjoyed this whole scene. Not only because it’s a lot of fun for the characters, but I also think is another really good example of the movie doing a really respectable job when presented with such limitations. “Dashing in December” came out in 2020, which means that it was shot on location under strict COVID protocols.
And I think this particular scene in the country bar, while it may not exactly be packed to the rafters, I think there are enough people present to give us an idea that this particular joint is hopping.
Jeff: Yeah. I was thinking the same thing as we watched it, that they did a really nice job with camera angles, and background noise, and other things to make us feel like that this was a hoppin’ place. Maybe not on a weekend, but it might’ve been a week night. We don’t know when they went. We don’t know if it was a Saturday or whatever. Cause we certainly saw holiday movies in 2020 from the Hallmark perspective, you know, crowd scenes severely reduced, and you could tell that things weren’t quite what they were supposed to be even while doing best efforts.
And of course, with “Dashing,” like I mentioned, you know, so much of this takes place at the ranch and only between four or five individual characters, that they were able to manage the protocols effectively. But this one, this is really their kind of centerpiece kind of crowd moment, and it worked really well.
Will: Hats off also to the choreographer. The fact that there even was obviously someone who worked with the actors and the extras on a few dance moves is a big plus in my opinion. Because generally in Christmas movies like this, there is at least, you know, one crowd scene where they go to a large gathering, whether it be something fancy like at Christmas ball, or some sort of holiday fun fair where there’s music and dancing, giving our main characters a chance to get closer. And other than a rudimentary turn around the dance floor, dancing scenes aren’t regularly particularly impressive. But I think they do a really nice job here.
Jeff: Yeah. Everybody was doing the same line dance, which was nice. And Heath and Wyatt certainly had some, if not smoldering looks, at least some like I see you over there dancing, you know, near me, and I like what I see, kind of moments.
Will: At the club, Deb runs into Carlos, her retired ranch foreman, and shares that she’s thinking of selling, before the two of them take a slow spin across the dance floor. Blake suggests that Wyatt dance with Heath. But, he says, no, certainly not in a country bar. So Wyatt dances with Blake for a bit. And while they’re dancing, they have a heart to heart. And, she suggests to Wyatt that if there’s anything going on with him and Heath, who by the way has never had a real boyfriend, that Wyatt should give it a shot, but please be careful and honest with each other. And later while everyone is two-stepping, like Jeff mentioned, there might actually be little hearts in Heath’s eyes, like an emoji. He clearly only has eyes for Wyatt.
There’s a cute moment the next morning when they nearly see each other naked. No, they did not spend the night together, but because of reasons Heath is taking a shower in the main house. But, all awkwardness aside, as the two of them are repairing some old Christmas decorations, they reminisce about the ranch and how Heath distinctly remembers taking the carriage ride. And, it being Wyatt and his dad who were driving the horses.
And, it’s here that Wyatt not so subtly asks about Heath’s romantic past. And he who, unlike heartbreaker Wyatt, has only ever been with one other guy and that was back in college. He made a grand romantic gesture to this guy during Christmas and it ended up backfiring.
Jeff: Yeah, that was a big backfire. I was like, oh no. This was a beautiful scene between these two, not only establishing more of Heath’s relationship with the ranch and that he even was part of what is such a hard time for Wyatt, you know, missing his dad and missing what they had with the carriage rides back in the day. And, then looking at a little bit of their individual pasts and that horrible moment for Heath.
Will: Yeah. It’s after this conversation, and later at Christmas services, that Wyatt can’t help but look down the pew at Heath with new eyes.
Jeff: Hearts in his eyes this time.
And after the service, Carlos asks Deb out, but she’s hesitant. There has been something there and, you know, a little bit of a spark between them for quite a while. And he quite rightly points out that them staying lonely isn’t really honoring the memories of her husband or his wife. They both deserve a chance at something new, a new happiness might be just what they need.
Jeff: Listen to Carlos. He speaks wise words.
Will: The next day Heath leads the Christmas carriage rides while mother and son have a heart to heart at the hot cocoa station.
Jeff: As one does.
Will: Deb is all like you and Heath, huh? But Wyatt is all like, w what’s the deal with you and Carlos?
They put a pin in that discussion so that Wyatt can work on a potential investor in the ranch. His plan is to turn it into a race track.
Jeff: Who knows?
Will: I it’s sort of, I don’t know.
Jeff: It seems a little off the beaten path to stick a racetrack. I dunno. I’m sure it made sense to somebody at some point to stick a racetrack or way up on a mountain in Colorado.
Will: Well, to me it doesn’t compute, but as it’s presented in this story, it’s like their best worst option.
At least it was different than what you usually get in these scenarios where it’s like, we’re just going to slap a resort over there. In this case, we’re going to put a horse track. I don’t know. It was weird. Maybe the horse track came with a resort at some point. Who can say.
Will: So, Heath is happy for Deb where Carlos is concerned, if that’s what she wants. But he is still of the mind that they don’t have to sell the ranch. They just need one good idea. And she is of the same mind, but concedes that Wyatt is right, things simply won’t last going the way that they are.
Jeff: Which interestingly is not only true for the ranch, but for all of our characters as well.
Will: That night after dinner, Heath takes Wyatt to a surprise that he is prepared. He has decked out the pavilion in twinkle lights. It’s all sparkly and romantic. Now previously Wyatt said that he had never danced with a guy before and now with a sweet country song playing in the background. He can dance with Heath.
Jeff: Swoony goodness.
Will: Swoony. It’s so swoony.
Jeff: It’s a beautiful gesture. And how shy Wyatt becomes around it is also just adorable.
Will: And after they dance, they take a ride through the festively lit carriage route. They talk about the past and they think about the future and they share their first kiss.
Now Wyatt wants to make a gesture of his own. And while Deb helps him set that up, she asked why he has stayed away for so long. The thing is there are so many memories of his dad wrapped up in the ranch that when he died, it was painful for Wyatt to face. And it’s through this conversation, they kind of come to an understanding, and the two of them make peace with that particular chapter in their lives.
Wyatt has cooked dinner and Deb and Wyatt and Blake, they all share a meal. Deb asks what everyone’s Christmas wish is. Blake is hoping for news on her husband’s sabbatical while he is away on a doctors without borders. Deb, well, her boy is home, so she’s got her wish. Wyatt jokingly mentions he would like a new Mercedes, and Heath wishes that they didn’t have to sell the ranch.
Wyatt says a new start in New York might be nice, inferring that the two of them would move in together. Heath could use his graphic design degree and Wyatt could help him find a design gig. And Heath just looks at him like he’s grown another head. How could he ever think that would be a viable option for him?
Wyatt seems to think the rejection of the idea is a rejection of him and he ends up lashing out at everybody, especially Heath. In his eyes they’re all living in a fantasy. He’s the one trying to deal with the reality of the situation. When both of them end up storming off, all Deb can say is, well, that didn’t go as planned.
Jeff: No, it did not. This was really supposed to be Wyatt’s big gesture back to Heath and it just dissolved so badly. Once again, Wyatt doesn’t know how to read a room, let’s start there. Starting with the Mercedes was a mistake and then even thinking for a hot minute that Heath would want to go to New York. Maybe use his graphic design degree might’ve been fine, but Heath is not a city boy by any stretch.
So yeah, he just misread that situation completely. But again, it’s all wrapped up in him also trying to just take care of the situation and be the fixer, but just fixing it wrong.
Will: So we’re at the point in the movie where we get an everybody is sad, montage, Wyatt is packing and he also visits his father’s grave. Heath watches “It’s A Wonderful Life” on the screen that, Wyatt set up in the stable as part of his previous grant gesture. And as Wyatt prepares to go, his mom makes one last attempt to convince him to stay, and that he and Heath are good together. Despite their differences, they make each other stronger.
Wyatt is like, I love you, but you are wrong about this. So he gets in the car and he goes, and at the airport while waiting for his flight, and talking on the phone with his boss, Wyatt ends up being the one who gets the one good idea. He’s going to save the ranch and he rushes back home.
Meanwhile, Heath and Blake are being sad together, and drinking because they’re both alone at Christmas. But her Christmas wish comes true when her husband returns home for the holidays.
And as we head into the grand romantic finale of our story, Heath is surprised on Christmas Eve day to see crowds of people who’ve shown up for the last rides of Christmas carriage season. Deb explains that it’s all part of a social media blast from a popular organic brand who, as part of a deal brokered by Wyatt, will now call part of the ranch home to their Western business expansion.
Jeff: It’s a much better plan than a horse track.
Will: Wyatt apologizes for what he said. And it’s all thanks to Heath that he’s finally woken up and aware of all the possibilities for the ranch and for the two of them. He explains some further details of the business venture he’s managed to whip up in the last 24 hours.
Jeff: Twenty-four hours? How about 10 minutes? It was just one phone call.
Will: And he would like to know if Heath is interested in a partnership, both professional because he’s sure going to need some help running this place, and romantic because Heath is definitely the guy for him. They seal their happy ending with a kiss, and take one last carriage ride into the sunset at their own personal winter wonderland.
Jeff: It was such a satisfying movie and I liked it better the second time than the first. I don’t think I’ve mentioned that while we’ve been doing this. I certainly got, more of the nuances in the second viewing, but also liked it more too. I liked it well enough last year when it premiered, but on the second viewing, I just got so many warm and fuzzies all the way through it. Even as Wyatt and Heath were kind of doing this push and pull with each other, which like you said, was just a classic enemies-to-lovers trope moment. It was so delightful.
Will: Yeah, I loved revisiting this movie. Like I really, really loved it. It satisfies everything I could ever want in a Christmas movie and as a romance reader. I was really into the love story, like great classic tropes brought to life on screen in a fun, feel good way.
Now, if you haven’t seen “Dashing in December” and want to add it to your holiday watch list, we want to let you know that it is not available on DVD as of this recording. But, you can purchase or rent it on several streaming service. We loved it, so we bought it on Amazon Prime. You could also try checking your local cable listings for seasonal replays or your favorite streaming app for availability.
Jeff: Yeah, like you, I loved revisiting that movie. It was, oh, so sweet. And just a nice little addition to all of the holiday movies premiering this year.
Jeff: Now this episode’s transcript is brought to you by our community on Patreon. If you’d like to read our conversation for yourself, you can simply head on over to the show notes page for this episode at biggayfictionpodcast.com. And, of course, there you’re going to find links to everything that we talked about in this episode.
Will: All right, I think that’ll do it for now. Coming up next on Monday in episode 351, we’re going to be back here talking about more books.
Jeff: That’s right. We’ve got a lot more reviews coming your way. Cause you know, we’ve also been reading a lot of holiday romance and we’ll get you fully up to date on that coming next week, and we’ll be previewing some more of the books that’ll be coming out before the end of the year.
Will: On behalf of Jeff and myself we want to thank you so much for listening, and we hope that you’ll join us again soon for more discussions about the kind of stories that we all love, the big gay fiction kind. Until then, keep turning those pages and keep reading.
Big Gay Fiction Podcast is part of the Frolic Podcast Network. Find more shows you’ll love at frolic.media/podcasts. Production assistance by Tyson Greenan. Original theme music by Daryl Banner.