When YA authors John Green, Lauren Myracle, and Maureen Johnson were approached by an editor at Penguin Books to write an anthology of Christmas love stories for teens back in 2008, they didn’t realize their book, Let It Snow, would get adapted into a Netflix film more than a decade later.
As new writers at the time, Green, Myracle, and Johnson said they were just excited to have an opportunity to work with their friends and write three fun, interconnected stories about young people falling in love, falling out of love, and realizing the power of friendship in a small town on Christmas. “I totally thought, ‘This is Love Actually for teens,’” Myracle told BuzzFeed News.
As is the case in many adaptations, there are some differences in the Netflix version of Let It Snow, which stars Kiernan Shipka and Shameik Moore and starts streaming on Nov. 8. One of the major shifts in the film is the inclusion of a queer a love story between two young women, Dorrie (Liv Hewson) and Kerry (Anna Akana).
“Having a heteronormative story all around would be abnormal. It would be weird,” Myracle said. “The version in the movie is much more satisfying.”
Dorrie, who works at the local Waffle Town restaurant, gushes to her BFF Addie (Odeya Rush) about her massive crush on Kerry, but when Kerry shows up at Waffle Town with her friends on the cheerleading squad, she ignores Dorrie. Not long afterward, though, Kerry finds Dorrie in the restaurant bathroom and kisses her, sparking much-warranted confusion on Dorrie’s end.
In the film, Dorrie struggles with her feelings of confusion and rejection, and she eventually finds the courage to confront Kerry. At the end of Let It Snow, Kerry apologizes to Dorrie and reveals that she’s not out about her sexuality.
“What made it difficult for them to be together is that the world in which we live in is not a world of equality that it needs to be,” Green told BuzzFeed News about Dorrie and Kerry’s characters. “I hope that is changing for a lot of young people, that they do feel supported. I hope more young people feel supported coming out and being who they are, because certainly that was different when I went to high school.”
On a red carpet event for Let It Snow, Hewson told MEAWW, “Coming out in high school is really hard, and some people aren’t able to come out in high school in the same way that others are.”
“Dorrie is out and proud and it’s a nonissue, which is lovely to see in a film like this, and also with Anna [Akana]'s character, there’s more complexity there,” Hewson added. “But that is treated with the same amount of empathy and respect as anyone else’s journey.”
Like any classic holiday rom-com, there’s a happy ending for Dorrie and Kerry. After Kerry tells Dorrie she’s afraid to come out to her friends and family, and that Dorrie inspires her to be brave, the two of them kiss again.
“I think it's important to celebrate those moments,” Green said. “They don't happen all the time in pop culture, they should happen all the time, but I think it's important to celebrate them.”
LGBTQ representation on television is at an all-time high, according to GLAAD’s 2019 media report. The nonprofit media monitoring organization found that 10.2% of characters on primetime broadcast television are LGBTQ. The report also highlighted streaming services like Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu that included 153 LGBTQ characters in their series this year.
While the authors didn’t come up with the Dorrie and Kerry storyline in Netflix’s adaptation of Let It Snow, they said they “all read every draft and felt really listened to” by the screenwriters. Green, speaking on behalf of all three authors, said they feel “grateful” the queer love story was included because it’s important representation for teens and young people, especially when it comes to holiday-themed romantic comedies where LGBTQ representation is rare.
The kiss between Dorrie and Kerry is interrupted by cheerleaders banging on the Waffle Town’s window, cheering them on. The support and encouragement from Kerry’s friends is a major victory for her after fearing judgment and criticism from others.
“Christmas movies are about the world we want to see, and this is the world you want to see, this is the model of what this is,” Johnson told BuzzFeed News. “Your friends are there for you. Give them the chance to stand up for you.”
According to Johnson, Dorrie and Kerry are important in Let It Snow beyond the LGBTQ representation they provide onscreen. The author said their love story demonstrates “all those feelings when you don’t know if the person you like likes you back, and the pain in wondering if they’re willing to say it knowing you’re willing to say it,” which can be a relatable emotion for young people — or anyone — watching the movie.
Plus, “they’re adorable together,” Johnson said.
The different characters in the film all go through their own ups and downs, facing challenges and enjoying moments of triumph, and a common thread that Green said he appreciates about Let It Snow is the fact that “the kids in the movie are good to each other.”
“They don't always know how to be good to each other,” Green said. “They’re learning how to be kind, they’re learning how to love one another better, and there’s just such a genuine warmth there.”
The ending for Dorrie and Kerry, which involves a lot of smiles and kissing, is as predictable as every other character’s, but heartfelt and feel-good holiday movies are sometimes just what people need, the authors said.
“We live in really terrible times,” Myracle said. “And it's nice to be associated with something that feels good, feels positive, and feels warm and welcoming.”