Happiest Season came out on Hulu over the Thanksgiving weekend and I really loved it. It was a sweet Christmas story with more substance than your typical Hallmark movie. It’s one of the first LGBTQ+ Christmas rom-coms to be greenlit by a major studio. Unfortunately due to COVID, it didn’t make it into theatres and was sold to Hulu instead. However, this is great because more people can watch it safely and the movie was hit! LGBT romcoms are rare, as most movies centered on LGBT experiences tend to be tragic dramas. Love, Simon, which came out in 2018, was also an exception for this genre and these movies are hopefully great first steps for more diversity in the genre. It’s also great that there were Queer people behind the making of the film like Director Clea Duvall and star Kristen Stewart.
This movie is about Abby (Kristen Stewart) wanting to propose to her girlfriend Harper (Mackenzie Davis) over Christmas. However, Harper lied about being out to her family, so she and Abby have to pretend to be straight while visiting. Shenanigans ensue as Abby learns more about her competitive family and what happened to Harper’s first girlfriend, Riley (Aubrey Plaza).
One of the biggest critiques of the film is that Abby ends up with the wrong person – most of the internet wanted her to end up with Aubrey Plaza’s character instead and felt that Harper was abusive to Abby by forcing her back into the closet. While I agree that Kristen Stewart and Aubrey Plaza had great chemistry and their friendship was one of the best parts of the movie, them ending up together would’ve been too big of a twist for the genre. Also, while Harper does end up doing horrible things to people to protect the truth of her identity, she is struggling very much with herself. I don’t think her actions are completely unforgivable – after all, Abby intended to marry her so she must have had a great relationship up to this point. Maybe if the film showed more of a background to their relationship this would have been less of an issue.
Another complaint about the movie is the plotline involving forced outing. While I understand this may be traumatic for some with a similar experience, it is an important element of the story to help Harper come to terms with herself in her hometown. I agree that most LGBT movies do center on these types of plotlines (Love, Simon as mentioned above has a similar situation), and it would be nice to get more stories that aren’t just about identity and coming out, but about the daily life of Queer people. This movie was still enjoyable and light overall, even if it wasn’t the pure Hallmark Christmas magic people were expecting.
Duvall has talked about a sequel, which would be a great way to have another Christmas story without the drama. The movie could also center on the internet’s favorite character (and I suppose mine as well) Riley, played by Aubrey Plaza. It would also be nice if the sequel had more diversity, even while being an LGBT story, it was still pretty white (Plaza is the only POC in the main cast with the exception of the kids of one of Harper’s siblings).
In the end, the movie was well cast and acted and gave me a warm Christmas feeling like I felt from The Holiday. We need more diverse Christmas films and Happiest Season shows Hollywood that there is an audience and a demand for these types of films. Hopefully, we can get more movies like this in the future!