For as long as I’ve been able to remember celebrating Christmas, I can always think of my mom sitting in front of our television and cooing at the Hallmark Christmas movie marathons that played all holiday season long. Anytime I can remember us watching Hallmark movies, I always had the same thought: wow, these are cheesy! Sure, the first time you watch the Hallmark channel, it’s cute. Then the second movie plays. Then the third. Then after that, you finally come to the realization that every single movie has the same exact plot.
Think I’m lying? Picture this. The main character works in a big city with a high paying job in which they are very successful. For some reason, they have to go to a small town for the holidays, sometimes it’s because of family, other times it’s because they get stuck during a snowstorm. Either way, the small town is made out as if it were the center of Christmas itself like Santa Claus vacationed there during the off-season.
The main character typically makes a fool of themselves because of their “big-city-mentality-doesn’t-match-the-small-town-culture”. Then suddenly enters the love interest who works in the small town and is the heartthrob of everyone. They fall in love, but unfortunately, there’s the conflict of long-distance or jobs or maybe even prior relationships. However in the end the main character usually ends up moving to the small town because they fell in love with the charm of the community and leave their high-paying job in the big city to work with the love interest and they live happily ever after in Christmasland. The End.
While this is a cute plot, there’s a lot to unpack that makes it unappealing. First, the concept of the happy-go-lucky small town that decks itself out for the holidays barely exists. If you take a drive to your nearest small town, the most you’re going to get is some decorative street lights that look like they were made whenever the town was founded. The majority of small towns don’t usually have the “mom and pop’s” bakeries or Christmas stores or any other cheesy concept because the supply and demand are low. Sometimes small towns do have parades, however, there are typically never the gigantic floats that could rival the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Coming from a small town myself, I can say that there is a tight-knit community, however rarely is it so happy-go-lucky. You know the feeling when you’ve been around your roommate too long and you slowly start getting annoyed by them? Imagine that with an entire town filled with the same people you’ve known your entire life and somehow never change.
Secondly, why does the main character have to be so ignorant about life? Yes, living in an urban environment is different from living in a rural one, but sometimes these main characters seem to be unable to function in everyday life. It’s almost like they’ve never seen farm animals, or family-owned stores, or wore something other than business attire. And personally, as a member of the Gen Z generation, I’m sick of seeing characters complain about not having cell service. It’s such an overplayed trope, even for Hallmark.
Lastly, and most annoyingly of all, what is the appeal of the main character quitting their job and moving to the small town? Rural communities are typically good for retirement or raising families, but for a young adult with big aspirations, it’s difficult. Small towns are normally stagnant, always constant, never giving themselves up for change. Plus, for today’s economy, who would really give up their high paying job to work in a mom and pop store? Also, are you really going to leave the entire life that you built for a person you had only known for a few weeks? Completely flip your identity and who you are for someone? If this was any other movie, it would’ve been called out for endorsing toxic relationships, but since it’s Hallmark and it has the magic of Christmas, it’s celebrated.
I have voiced my opinion on Hallmark Christmas movies over and over, yet no one has ever agreed with me. The main arguments I’ve gotten from people were how they loved the guaranteed happy ending or how predictable they were. I get that in hard times, especially how stressful the year 2020 has been, many look toward television for an outlet to escape reality. Honestly, the only reason I wrote this piece was to reach out and be the voice for the few who agree with the fact that Hallmark movies suck. Whatever you decide to watch this holiday season, have fun! Be safe and merry! And don’t make your anti-holiday Hallmark friends watch cliche romance movies with you!