I’m venturing into a virtual minefield with this post. Into a veritable hotbed of opinions. The battle lines drawn around this topic will make my last post on women’s rights look positively demure.
We’re about to delve into kitschy culture.
Coming soon to a television near you is—gasp—the Hallmark Channel’s Christmas movie lineup. I’m not sure if my readers outside of the U.S. even know what the Hallmark Channel is, so I’ll put it succinctly—it’s the equivalent of your sappiest aunt baking cookies for you, pattting your head and telling you that “every story has a happy ending.” If you’re diabetic, the sap in these movies might just send you to the hospital. They sport titles like Christmas at Pemberley Manor; Pride, Prejudice, and Mistletoe; and A Gingerbread Romance. Oh, and don’t forget A Shoe Addict’s Christmas. Seriously, I’m not making that last title up.
You with me? Good. (Already, a good portion of my friends are wailing. I know it. Gnashing their teeth and asking why I’m dissing their feel-good go-to. I’m braced for the hate mail.)
I was recently among the Hallmark Channel’s uninitiated. That is, until my friend Nadine coerced me into watching it on a girls’ night. Oh, she played me well. We cooked dinner together, drank wine, chatted about work and politics and all things essential. Then, just when I was in that pleasantly full phase, feeling mellow—BAM. She hit me with it.
“Hey, a Hallmark movie starts in about 20 minutes. Let’s watch.”
I protested, lovely readers. I truly did. I claimed a long workday and a short attention span and a need to reorganize my linen closet. But alas, Nadine emerged victorious. My only pre-condition was that we race to the grocery store to get Raisinets and popcorn. I mean, if you’re going to do a sappy girl thing—do it right.
As we munched and lounged among comfy pillows, I watched the woman onscreen–we’ll call her Joy–in all her spunky glory. She owned a—wait for it—food truck specializing in cupcakes (as if we needed more sweetness in a Hallmark movie–it’ll give you a toothache). As Joy baked and decorated cupcakes in her not-frumpy-but-not-at-all-fashionable clothes, wearing just the right amount of minimalist makeup, I realized Hallmark marketers are trying hard to make her the average woman. Relatable, only better—without the 15 extra pounds and any stray eyebrow hairs.
Intrepid Joy had of course befriended an old, frail woman who died. And of course, this old woman left her an old bakery. It was closed and shuttered, but hey kids—with a little elbow grease and that effervescent spunk—it could be transformed into the bakery she had always wanted.
Did I mention her benefactor deeded half of said bakery to her own handsome grandson? Appropriately handsome, of course. And—wink, wink, nudge, nudge—he also was in not-frumpy-but-not-at-all-that-fashionable clothes, just the male version of them. His steely gaze was a 7 out of 10—steely enough for Hallmark but not venturing into True Grit territory.
People, we were able to predict the entire movie. It was a formula. And I guess herein lies the Hallmark movie magic. Girl struggles on her own and tries hard to maintain her sunny outlook. Girl meets boy, who just needs the love of the right gal to make his life complete. In the end, of course they end up together. But not before banter—the appropriate argument or two—and then the big apology scene. She falls off a kitchen ladder into his waiting arms. As she bakes, he softens his steely gaze for the camera, realizing she is just like his beloved grandmother. And that he is in love with her. Which is a little creepy, if you think about it.
In my informal poll, it appears that all women–other than me and three black-turtleneck-wearing poets in Sweden—love these films. In Hallmark movie land, the men are good—strong on the outside but soft of heart—and the women always get the dream. What’s not to love? It’s a happy ending, every time.
This is a cottage industry, people! Who KNEW?! (Probably you. I think I’m very late to the party.) Thousands of women out there, in their Snuggies, with Raisinets and popcorn flying off the shelves at breakneck speed.
Women are so nuts over these movies that THEY ARE NAMING BABIES AFTER THE CHARACTERS. If you are also mildly insane and inclined to name your baby after someone in this predictable genre of very bad movies, head on over to Southern Living magazine for: “Baby Names Inspired by Our Favorite Hallmark Movie Characters.”
If you don’t have a baby handy, but you still want to get in on the fun, you can always listen to “Deck the Hallmark”—a podcast on Hallmark Christmas movies by three guys (yes, guys) in Greenville, South Carolina. Brandon Gray, Daniel Thompson and Daniel Pandolph have taken on the arduous task of not only watching all the movies, but creating a podcast around each of them. I laughed hardest at the following from an article in the Greenville News:
“We’re literally not going to have time to watch regular Christmas movies this year,” Pandolph said.
“Or anything that’s worth any value or substance at all,” Thompson added.
No kidding, guys. And please, be careful out there gentlemen. I read in the same article that Gray wants to write a Hallmark movie. He already has a plot in mind. You may be heading toward a precipice from which there is no turning back, Gray. Godspeed, just in backward motion.
Finally–lest you think I’m done–there’s more, dear reader. There’s a countdown to Christmas app for Hallmark movies. Oddly enough, even Town and Country magazine—which I think automatically self-destructs if you come within 20 feet of it in a Snuggie—is getting in on the act.
Don’t delay, people. Fellow blogger Scary Mommy is already stocking up on eggnog. You’d best fill the fridge with your stash of the same before your grocer’s supply of creamy holiday drinks, Raisinets and popcorn is depleted.
The parade of Snuggies and sap begins October 27. Be there, be square.
And save some popcorn for me. Just know that I’ll be voting for Mamma Mia and its sequel.
72 Comments Add yours
I’m a little late to this party date…(lol!). I admit I had no idea that this even existed for Christmas crazy time.
I found it by accident when I accidentally hit the “5” on my remote control one too many times and voilia! there was a channel with Christmas movies. Intrigued I turned it on. Nothing else remotely interesting was playing.
…so (so weighted a word), I watched more than a few and I admit that I hated the formula, I hated the smarmy saccharine sappiness and yes it did make my teeth ache with the additional sprinkles on top!
…(sigh), but I understand the draw from this past year’s horrible political forum and yuck-i-ness it was probably so much better than having one’s eyes and ears assaulted by the political shtick that was a constant every-time you flipped channels.
I digress, I don’t hold it against anyone who watched it, indulged in it and bought their popcorn for it.
[insert laughter here] …I think I take um-bridge at the Snuggies though…(just saying).
Here’s to a better political New Year!
I’m with you! Not for me, but I understand the draw :-). And yes, I draw the line at Snuggies too.
LOL don’t judge me but I love these soppy movies LOL A couple of weeks ago I found the channel by accident and started watching the movie that was already playing, I don’t watch a lot of TV but once in a while I have to take myself out of the everyday and sprinkle some “fantasy land” that only happens in the movies. I refuse to watch any movies that are medical, police, violence in one way or another, and personally for me, I really enjoy being transported into a fantasy that only happens on TV. I didn’t know that women are naming their babies after these characters, but oh well, who am I to judge??? And I have not seen Mamma Mia, nor do I intend to, so Hallmark Christmas where every story is the same, only different actors, maybe a different little town, and I’m not sure about this, because all the little towns look the same to me, and the predictable heart warming endings and tissues is enough LOL Thank you Kay
I know many women who feel as you do, Marcia :-). No need to apologize or fear being judged. I think a lot of people right now are looking for escape in fantasyland.
Thanks Kay, and I also meant to tell you how much I enjoyed reading this post. 🙂
Thank you! I appreciate You reading and commenting :-).
We get them here on the W channel. I have watched several. No, I don’t really love them at all — most are cheesy in plot and casting, but they are better than nothing some evenings. It’s what George says: they require no thought. There’s a male lead who gets a lot of the love-interest parts; makes me wonder if the producers and network don’t know any other good male actors. And the leads are always white – even Meghan Markle played the part of a white girl in one of these flicks. Occasionally there is a black friend, but that’s it.
Oh yes, the ethnic and racial profile. When my friend and I were watching the movie, we were mocking that there was one black female friend in a town of all white people. And, the only Hispanic shown had to do with some form of manual labor. I hate to say it but they are playing to their audience-sheltered white women.
George Three and I have been known to watch a Hallmark movie with my dear wife Karen and my daughter Elisabeth, Kay, keeping the holiday happy.
Why does that not surprise me, Mark? 🙂 You are a good husband! And so of course you watch . . . but are you enjoying? Wink, wink.
Yes, of course I enjoy the time spent with my wife and daughter watching it. 🤓
Great fun Kristine, I won’t be waiting for the Hallmark festivities, but I’m afraid I can’t stand Mamma Mia either, so I can’t in good conscience join you at the party 🙂
Ah, not a surprise:). We’ll have to come up with some meatier brain food for you, I’m guessing . . .
You, two women in Sweden wearing black turtlenecks, and me–but then I’m in Cornwall and wearing a fuschia turtleneck. But I almost put on a black one this morning. It just happened that the fuschia one was at the top of the pile. I give these things (clothing, that is) a lot of deep thought.
We won’t throw you out of the Mamma Mia club for fuschia:). I myself have been known to wear sea-blue quite a bit . . .
Important update: Today’s turtleneck is black and several hundred years old.
I can’t even begin to beat that😉. You win.
You had me at the first Hallmark! Yet, I am dismayed to learn it is a cottage industry but not surprised. I just didn’t want to know but if I had to learn how large their audience, I am grateful iit came from you in an objective and thoughtful essay, and dare I say it, galvanizing. Definitely one of your finest! I’m with you and the Swedes!
Well, this weekend is the big holiday movie season kick-off:). You, me and Mamma Mia–we’ll add some hot chocolate and Santa hats to make it holiday-ish.
Perfect. I’ll be there with bells on!
Sorry–I didn’t mean to brag.
My wonderful great aunt Emma would have loved this channel. It wouldn’t surprise me if she’s the one making the pot roast. It’s probably not a good idea to watch this channel if you’re a writer.
Then again it’s probably not a good idea to watch if you need oxygen to live but that’s just my opinion.
You get the silver cup for hanging in there. Well Done!!!
Bryan, I’m RIGHT THERE with you:). But hey, we may get pot roast and mashed potatoes out of the bargain if we can just hang in there . . .
If I had to chose between watching the Hallmark Movie Channel or having bamboo sticks forced under my fingernails I would stock up on Press-on Nails by Lee. Had an elderly client once who used to watch HMC, she got a pass because she had dementia.
😂. I guess you’re joining me and the Swedish poets in the Mamma Mia viewing session then.
Totally onboard with that.
When I lived in D.C. with another family, I would watch movies on that channel with the lady I lived with. Some were sweet. D some became inside jokes. Nothing like the Hallmark Channel!
The other night I was out at a show with a friend and she asked who the target audience was. One of the ushers was a very sweet-looking older woman with gray hair. As she took our tickets, I asked her if she watch the Hallmark Channel. And she gushed :-). They certainly know their audience! As do I 😉.
Well, with the decline in religious observance I guess we all need a new opiate of the masses. Keeps us from having original thoughts and becoming a pain in the ass to our rulers. Pass the popcorn.
And here in the States, the hateful, derogative, divisive talk (it’s not intelligent enough to be termed rhetoric) of our commander in chief is enough to send even the most steadfast to complete drivel.
This sounds like a gold mine! We could churn out the scripts to these Hallmark movies easy peasy. 🙂
Right?! I’m thinking we could also drink margaritas while doing it. Perks, perks . . .
Can my turtleneck be another colour but black?
I guess Nadine didn’t invite you over during Valentine’s Week? Lord love a duck…
And yes, much as I am an intelligent woman who reads and writes and enjoys culture, bring on the sap. Coz sometimes? Ya gotta put that mind to rest and enjoy the predictability of this sort… plus, they are sweet enough to supply nice eye candy for us, dontcha think?
When I make my way to Chicago (and I will), we’ll have much to discuss… of course, we will have wine, right?
I’ll have to ask the coven :-). I do believe black is their favorite color. However, I am perfectly OK with a nice navy blue. Or red. Just stay away from the neons. My mindless pursuit is perusing Harpers Bazaar on a monthly basis.
Well I do have a short-sleeved one, in case…
Dang… mine in pale pink. Guess I’ll just have to go shopping before I join.
Hey. No judgments here… whatever works, I say.
I would rather stick my face in a wood chipper than watch those movies. I get cavities, diabetes and muscle spasms at the mere thought.
Aha! But do you wear turtlenecks? And do you live in Sweden? 😉
Well no, and I’m not a southern housewife either, but I feel like a failure because nothing can make me watch them. And I’m ok with the feeling. 🙂
You can join me in my Mamma Mia film festival . . .
Yay, I’m so in for that!
Do I like these movies? Yes, but no? 😬
I think you’re in good company then :-). At least it appears so from the comments on this page.
Hmm :/, my sister-in-law would enjoy ‘A shoe addicts Christmas’.
That one has my name written all over it. Tell her to come on over :-).
First, I love you, Kay and your blog is fantastic. Second, I have a bunch of turtlenecks. Most of them black and some of them pretty scratchy. Here goes.
Hallmark Christmas movies are ridiculous. They are stereotypical, silly and predictable but no more so than Gilmore Girls, Scandal, Veep, The Walking Dead, or even Homeland.
Real life is never as simple or as dramatic as things are on any screen. No one has a hot neighbor with a chiseled jaw who bakes Christmas cookies and gives killer foot rubs before he offers to pop in a load of laundry pick your kids up at school. That is true.
But mother/daughter relationships are far less perfect and witty-banter-filled than Rory and Lorelai, zombies and dinosaurs aren’t that smart, and Claire Danes wouldn’t survive an hour in Afghanistan.
Interestingly enough, those shows and others like them get a pass on the reality meter.
They’re dramatic, they “teach” about life. Yeah? I love This is Us, but the Crock-Pot? He ran back in for the dog? Seriously? Just because people argue and cry doesn’t mean the story is any less predictable. The cheese is still cheese even if there’s expensive wine.
Only when romance or goofy love enters are people suddenly calling for reality. I’m sure I am hyper-aware because I write love (easy on the cheese) and romance takes a beating, especially from the turtlenecks. 🙂
We will suspend reality for murder, mayhem, and any myriad of other tall tales, but we scoff indignantly at love and silly happy. Why is that?
You had me at your first sentence😍. The second and third are just bonuses. I completely see why people love these movies. Our world, particularly here in the States, is not filled with a lot of happy endings in media headlines. We have a president who says rude, hateful things publicly. I think people are looking for a little old-fashioned sappy. And I really can’t blame them. Heck, I’ve gotten more invitations to sit with my feet up at friends’ houses and watch these movies than I can shake a stick at. And this year, I’m actually thinking of joining :-). Thanks, as always, for your witty and insightful commentary. Throw on a turtleneck. I’ll meet you in the middle.
Yes. Exactly, this. ❤️
OMG. I thought mainstream “romantic” movies were bad enough. I guess you can count me in with the Swedish poets. I’ll go get my turtleneck.
Tout de suite, please. It’s lonely on this iceberg😉.
You are such a good writer! I never feel like I’m not there with you cringing and rolling my eyes at the same time. We love/hate these movies because secretly, we want life and love to be easy, smooth, and predictable. Oh yes, we know the reality. We can see the lions roaring outside our door waiting to be fed, but hey, if I have to look like someone’s grandmother in return for crazy perfect love! Well seriously? Why wouldn’t I watch it ha! 💚💕
Oh, wouldn’t it be fun if you were here instead of thousands of miles away? We’d have a ball watching these movies 👍🏻. Maybe if I start watching these, the sap will ooze out of the screen and into my life. That might be OK. 😍
Yes I would love that Kristine! and you are right! If you believe its possible ..then its possible 👍💚
Please don’t judge me but my wife began watching these movies a couple of years ago and I hate to say this but in spite of the corny, predictable plots of each movie, I actually enjoy some of these. Why? I’m really not sure. They’re easy. You don’t have to think. They’re love stories and I’m a sucker for those types of movies/ books. I keep trying to figure it out as I watch each one and wonder why I’m sitting there instead of doing something a little more productive. But I don’t get up. I stay. I just don’t know why.
That’s exactly it, George! That is exactly what everyone says-woman or man. They love the predictability and the happy ending. I’m guessing the way our world is right now, that is not such a bad thing to want :-). And judge you? Never! You’ve come clean about your dancing, so you’re all good in my book.
I knew it, George! You are a softie inside and out! It’s why you’re so adorable… plus, not afraid to admit it… bonus!
Was this a soft-porn thing? Because the new Hallmark books are very porn-y apparently!
Whaaaat? Now there is a rabbit hole that I will absolutely not go down :-). I had no idea they had books too.
Actually, I think it’s Harlequin romances, not Hallmark that have gotten all porn-y. I never read them–someone just left a box on my porch.
Now THAT makes much more sense. Someone left a box on your porch, though? Story behind that one? 🙂
Check out My 188: The Mystery of the Box of Porn on My Porch😁
I’ll ask my mother 😉
Hilarious! I can honestly say I have never watched the Hallmark Channel – I had no idea this was even a “thing”. I may have to check it out this holiday season with popcorn and raisinettes 🙂
I hadn’t either, Michele! Until Nadine took me into the cult:). I’m glad to know I wasn’t the only one! It’s you, me and the Swedish gals.
Funny blog! The line about the creepiness of a guy falling in love with a woman who reminds him of his grandmother made me laugh. My wife watches these but doesn’t usually force me to sit with her. I love her for her sense of mercy.
Oh, she is merciful indeed! I think you should sit through one just for fun:). Maybe REALLY spiked eggnog will help . . .