Sarah Drew is no stranger to holiday movies, having starred in a handful for Lifetime and Hallmark over the years. But her latest, Lifetime's A Cowboy Christmas Romance, is pushing limits to steamy levels by featuring the network's first sex scene in a holiday movie.
A Cowboy Christmas Romance follows Jana Kramer as real estate "closer" Lexie Crenshaw, who returns to her Arizona hometown to persuade a handsome rancher, Coby Mason (Adam Senn), into parting ways with his family's land. Sparks fly between the two as they grow closer, causing Lexie to have doubts about her life decisions as she attempts to mend broken relationships with her father and brothers.
"I wanted to tell a sexy story. I was like, 'Let's push the boundary a little. Maybe our characters might sleep together,'" Drew, who wrote and executive produced the Christmas film, told TV Guide. "It's still G-rated. It's just that you know that it happens."
More holiday cheer:
Kramer, who was pregnant while filming A Cowboy Christmas Romance, detailed the scene in question on the Nov. 27 episode of her "Whine Down"podcast, which Drew was a guest on. "We're on this — spoiler alert — he lays me down on some hay, and then we, you know," she described, crediting the network for not taking anything out. "And then, obviously it's still Lifetime, it's still family. But it was pushing limits there, too."
Drew said the sex scene, which was recently spoofed on Saturday Night Live's "Weekend Update," makes sense in the context of the story. (She said on Kramer's podcast the scene "came out so beautifully.")
"I have this whole opening sequence where they meet each other at a bar, inspired by Meet Joe Black, and I was like, 'What could I have our main characters have a thing like that where they connect right away and they're hungry for some sort of release?'" she shared with TV Guide. "And then they find themselves in this twisted family dysfunction, but they're still madly falling in love with each other. How twisty and fun could that be? Lifetime was like, 'OK, we like it!'"
It's rare for a holiday movie to lean into the sexier side of romance. Oftentimes films within the genre tend to err on being family-friendly rather than leaning into the emotions and built-up tension of grown-up relationships.
A Cowboy Christmas Romance, which takes a page out of the Yellowstone playbook with its Western setting, also doesn't have the conventional holiday-centric tree lighting event or cookie baking competition that centers the plot.
"I had just shot a Western in Arizona and I fell in love with the family that were our wranglers. I sat on the top of the horse in between every take and heard stories about their life," Drew said of the film's inspiration. "[Their] world is so different from mine. So I started doing research. I'm like, what if I could set something in this world? I wanted to dive into horse whispering, ranching."
Sprinkle in elements of tried-and-true holiday movie tropes and it's a foolproof recipe that caters to audiences looking for mature romantic Christmas films.
"Why people love Christmas movies is there is this sense of new beginnings. You're coming back together as a family. If there's any brokenness or fissures in those relationships, you're hoping that maybe when we're all together, something will heal, and we can move forward," Drew said. "Those are the Christmas movies that I love to write and make."
"It's all about healing; it's all about coming to this place of restoration," Drew continued. "Those are the stories that really get me excited. You can have all the coziness — and I love the Christmas lights and the Christmas music and all that stuff — but if there's no real redemption or hope or new beginning, it doesn't say Christmas to me."
A Cowboy Christmas Romance premieres Saturday, Dec. 9 at 8/7c on Lifetime, and is available to stream the next day.