I’ve been watching a lot of Hallmark Channel Christmas movies. There. I said it. Out loud. That dirty, shivery feeling will pass in a moment. In the meantime, Lucy, let me ‘splain.
Frankie D is a romance junkie. No lie. When we were first married, he called his favorite category of movie “sexy comedy.” Now, he’s adopted a new favorite term. Rom-com. Don’t give him world powers and their intrigue, dystopia, or indie films about unlikeable characters doing unlikeable things. He loves a happily-ever-after wherein the problems encountered are either hilarious or of the romantic kind. Preferably both. If any Saturday Night Live alums appear, all the better. Don’t tell him I told you. Actually, you can. He loves his rom-coms and has no problem admitting it.
It’ll come as no surprise to anyone, now, that the Hallmark Channel is his favorite for holiday fare. I’ve formerly refused to watch any of these movies. This year, we both need a bit of over-the-top schmaltz, so I relented. Some of them are cute. Some of them have me rolling my eyes. Some, laughing out loud and not in any way the writers meant for me to. Oy, many are just really, really bad, but having watched a few of these movies now, I’ve learned something. The writers know exactly what they’re doing. They’re giving the public what it wants, what it expects when they turn on a Hallmark Christmas movie.
Such viewers aren’t looking for Alistair Sims’ version of A Christmas Carol, or Bad Santa. They’re looking for a feel-good, over-the-top cute holiday romance complete with adorable kids, puppies, and the darling pair of lovers never angsting over one another for more than thirty seconds before the dilemma of the moment is resolved. They know the villain will get her comeuppance, and the girl’s going to win the guy. Mom’s cancer will go into remission, Dad will get an unexpected leave from the war overseas, and Rover will find his way home. The cheesier the dialog, the better. The acting is akin to the soap-opera kind. And I noticed something else–there is no actual chemistry between the romantic leads. Chemistry equates to sexual tension, and aside from that longed-for kiss, there will be no tension suggesting s-e-x. Deviating from this path is not an option. And it’s all very purposely done.
The writers and producers are marketing not just the movie, but the channel, and they’re doing a bang-up job. Are these movies great? Even memorable? No. They’re not meant to be. Like a fair amount of romance in general, it’s meant to be enjoyed and forgotten. Why? Because if you remembered it, you wouldn’t watch–or read–the next one exactly like it.
Sometimes, I’ll pick up a book and wonder how the hell it sold a gazillion copies. The answer is simple–it fills a need. I get it now. While I believe a steady diet of this sort of thing is frighteningly escapist, we all need a little something sweet once in a while. The part of me that feels dirty and shivery when she sits down with her Frankie D to watch one of these movies will get over her damn self and enjoy it. Thanks Hallmark Channel.
The 12 Dates of Christmas from ABC Family’s 25 Days of Christmas was really cute. Any favorite Holiday movies you care to share?
Mine? A Christmas Story, Trapped in Paradise, Scrooged, Bad Santa, Christmas Vacation, to name a few. Not a yearly must-watch but memorable movie is The Family Stone.