Chick flicks fall short

Everything these movies are lacking


Margaret Edmonson

Hallmark’s holiday movies draw criticism for lack of diversity and new storylines.

By Joey Clark, Smithson Valley High School

In my house, the holiday season doesn’t truly start until my mom starts binging Hallmark movies in the living room.  Every so often I’ll indulge in watching one with her, and every year, she is overjoyed by the cheesiness, and I feel like I’m watching an identical plot with the same C-list cast as last year’s Hallmark lineup. I love a good rom-com as much as the next person, but every Christmas I’m forced to watch the same white, semi-rugged male lead fall in love with the same white, bubbly female co-star. 

Sure, it’s nice to be able to watch a feel-good family movie with a plot you don’t have to focus on too hard to follow, but the same cookie-cutter story honestly just shows how lazy the Hallmark writing team has become. Their “newest and latest” movie feels more like a plagiarized paper with a few words here and there changed hastily turned in.

 Data from the Hallmark network boasted 72 million viewers, mainly middle aged women in rural areas, during their Countdown to Christmas month-long special, so clearly America is fine with watching these recycled plots, but who’s to guess how many people finish these movies disappointed.

This year’s A Knight Before Christmas, though not technically Hallmark-produced, told the story of a knight teleported his medieval time period  to the present where he falls for a high school science teacher. Ok, admittedly a little out there, the movie still follows the same cliche as the knight helps the cynical teacher played by Vanessa Hudgens believe in the magic of Christmas once again. 

A solution to these identical plot lines is Hallmark needs to take a chance on hiring new writers with fresh, teetering on the edge of eccentric, ideas to keep their audience engaged. Different ideas, despite if they were a success or a flop in the minds of critics, tend to get people talking and watching. Any press is good press.

Another glaring problem with Hallmark is its primarily white casting. The producers of the company have attempted to address this issue with this year’s Christmas Everlasting, featuring a mainly all-black cast, but this pathetic feat just brings more into light the lack of diversity of these movies.

 A new goal the company could tackle is adding more, or actually any, LGBTQ+ storylines, but this seems like a wistful dream with Hallmark just now exploring the talents of people of color (POC) actors, but perhaps in the next decade or so we could see two men experience a sickeningly-sweet romance on screen, but even just saying that feels like a controversial statement.

Hallmark recently faced backlash for refusing to air a commercial for Zola, a wedding planning service, that featured a same-sex couple’s wedding after receiving pressure from conservative groups that claimed the message wasn’t “family-friendly.”

The TV network’s CEO, Bill Abbot, has attempted to justify their primarily white casting by explaining that much of their filming happens in demographically Caucasian-dominated Canada. Personally, it is  hard to believe there isn’t at least one semi-decent black or Asian actor up north or even one they could find in their budget to fly up for a few weeks of filming. 

The company has acknowledged their diversity problem, but it’s hard to believe that the issue is that pressing to them as another all-white cast comes out, and viewers still anticipate the first Asian lead. However with the success of Crazy Rich Asians last year, fans can only hope Hallmark catches on.

This holiday season, don’t be afraid to watch your favorite cheesy Christmas network, but when new movies featuring unique actors and plot lines air, don’t be shy in giving them a shot. Higher TV ratings may show Hallmark producers that the audience truly is open to and craving a diverse story where POC actors take the spotlight rather than forced to the sidelines as the quirky best friend. Representation in the media especially is absolutely critical for society to continue to progress. As families across America settle into their homes to watch a feel-good Hallmark movie,  some can only hope to see their family represented on the screen.

This story was originally published on Valley Ventana on December 17, 2019.