Christmas Ever After 2020 Movie Review Poster Trailer Online
Director: Pat Kiely
Writers: Tanner Bean, Katrina Mathewson
Stars: Daniel di Tomasso, Ali Stroker, Ellen David
On a scale of holiday cheer ranging from the Grinch to Buddy the Elf, I’ve leaned decidedly toward the green guy for most of my adult life. Familial stress aside, it sucks being single during “the most wonderful time of the year.” Because of this, I’d avoided the TV Christmas movie genre like the plague—until a few years ago, that is, when Sarah Drew starred in Christmas Pen Pals. Drew had made a pretty convincing runaway bride on Grey’s Anatomy, and if I could handle that trope, I could watch a cheesy couple steal mistletoe kisses by the fire.
Since then, I’ve become a TV Christmas movie addict. I actually love living vicariously through whatever flavor of vague career-woman-turned-love-interest Drew or Hilarie Burton or Bethany Joy Lenz is playing for 90 minutes. Their happy endings are set in stone, unlike mine.
As a wheelchair user who has all but given up on dating apps, I’ve begun to doubt I’ll have a meet-cute that’s guaranteed to last like the ones bestowed upon made-for-TV’s leading ladies.
But on December 6, thanks to Lifetime, I can finally watch someone who looks like me get their happy ending. In Christmas Ever After, Ali Stroker makes TV history as the first wheelchair user to star in a holiday movie. In the festive rom-com, the actress plays Izzi, a writer whose fictional characters and their perception of “perfect love” are preventing her from seeing what’s right in front of her: Matt (Daniel di Tomasso). He’s gorgeous, and he just happens to look identical to the man on the cover of Izzi’s romance novels.
Christmas Ever After doesn’t just help fellow wheelchair users believe we’ll fall in love—believing that it’s possible to fall in love while disabled isn’t actually very hard—it’s the details of being in relationships that can present more roadblocks for us. And the movie honestly and expertly navigates those obstacles.
I don’t have much dating experience, but before one first date, a guy I had been messaging on a dating app conveniently mistook a joke I made about cheap wine and bailed on the outing. He explained his reasoning like an afterthought: “You seem needy.”
It’s one of the worst things you can say to someone with a disability. We spend a lot of time trying to attain conventional “independence” and “success.” So even if the term “needy” apparently referred to something other than my disability, it triggered me. If I was going to have to spend emotional energy pretending I didn’t (potentially) have a few more needs than the average woman on dating apps, it wasn’t worth my time. A reality that Stroker can relate to as well.
“I know that one of the things that I felt insecure about as a younger girl and woman was love stories,” says Stroker. “Like, ‘How do I fit into a narrative about love and romance?’”
But Christmas Ever After finally gives disabled young people the chance to see how they fit. The fact that abled viewers will see it too is a necessary bonus.
Take, for instance, the scene in Christmas Ever After where Stroker and di Tomasso literally depict what physical intimacy could look like for a couple when one partner is disabled and one is not. “I think that one of the fears for people with disabilities is: ‘What are the logistics going to look like? How do I do this if I’m sitting, somebody else is standing?’” Stroker says. “It’s just kind of a dance and you figure it out and if somebody is taller than you they lean down to you.”