Hallmark: ruining holiday movies

Oftentimes, in Hallmark movies, the general structure of the film itself remains the same, almost as if all the stories follow a formula.

Photo provided by: Avery Ranum

Oftentimes, in Hallmark movies, the general structure of the film itself remains the same, almost as if all the stories follow a formula.

Julia Hubbell, Editor-In-Chief

As Halloween passes and focus shifts to winter celebrations, many holiday themed items begin resurfacing. I welcome back peppermint desserts, ugly sweaters and Michael Bublé music with open arms. But with holiday lights on rooftops and reindeer decorations in driveways comes the aspect of the holiday season I dread the most: Hallmark movies. Questionable acting, and irrelevant plots make each film hard to get through, even with a run time of merely 90-minutes. And try as I may to enjoy them, these movies lack substance, making them hardly worth the watch.

With hundreds of movies produced in their name, the Hallmark company has hardly created two original plots. Every movie seems to come out of a recipe book with only one page, the same ingredients every time: one cup of big city businesswoman, a dash of handsome hometown farm boy, two scoops of holiday spirit and a dash of kissing in the snow. Each story revolves around a successful businesswoman finding happiness in the small town she grew up in. Not to say that this is terrible, it makes a decent movie, it does not make 50 movies, however. With a different frontwoman, and a male lead that looks identical to the one from the last movie, it appears that Hallmark dusts off the same script every year to pump out dozens of the same narrative. 

In fact, one of the most unique things the Hallmark Channel has done is add an aspect of royalty into films. Starting in the 2010s, Hallmark diversified. Instead of one plot, there were two different ways a film could go. Either the big city businesswoman will fall in love with her hometown hero, or she will find her “Christmas prince”. Both of these narratives fall flat after the first film, and Hallmark has yet to create anything that strays from these two ideas.

Part of the reason that all the films feel the same is because they lack real conflicts. If each movie presented the characters with a different challenge, I would be able to look past the initial similarities in structure. However, Hallmark hardly includes a conflict that carries any emotional weight. The pinnacle of each movie seems to be some vaguely important event, whether it is missing the annual holiday fair, or that the local mom and pop store closing. Even worse are the films where the main conflict is simply that the woman is single. 

A great movie addresses a conflict that audiences can relate to, or empathize with. Part of the purpose of a film is to represent things that viewers feel. I can admit that romance movies have a certain appeal, and a target audience that I am not a part of, but it still feels lazy to forgo adding depth.

The holiday season is a time for fun, family, friends and seasonal specialties. I find myself each year enjoying wonderfully cliché activities. But no matter how festive I am feeling, I cannot bring myself to watch Hallmark movies. With each recycled plotline and irrelevant conflict, I find it hard to understand why people enjoy these films. After all, Hallmark already went out of the card-making business; I think it is well past time for them to get out of the movie-making business too.