Call it research, or perhaps sadism, but I’ve watched every Hallmark Christmas in existence. I have emerged, clued in, but numb. So very numb.
I’m not ashamed to say I’ve watched a lot of Hallmark Christmas movies in the past couple of weeks. (Okay, maybe slightly ashamed — but only for screenwriting research purposes, I swear!) Thanks to said “research,” I have discovered that each one of these movies contains the exact same storyline.
Here’s the plot of every Hallmark Christmas movie in a nutshell:
She runs a small business …
This is usually a florist, a bakery, a catering company, or a restaurant of which there seems to be an abundance in small-town America. The truly groundbreaking films have our heroine (for it is always a she) as a struggling dancer/single mother whose passion has been stymied by the need to, ya know, make a living. But sadly, Ashley isn’t very good at running this business, because being passionate about something is incompatible with making a living.
… that is threatened by an evil corporation.
Hallmark films come with a surprisingly anti-capitalist message which I, for one, am right here for. The villain of the piece is inevitably a soulless corporate or land developer, always male, who has set his malicious sights set on Jennifer’s struggling enterprise — and she doesn’t have the financial means to fight him. But Katie will deliver an emotional monologue about why her business means so much to the community and work out a way to make it flourish (i.e., bring in profits) because, who are we kidding, capitalism rocks.
She is with the wrong guy …
I mean, no redeeming qualities wrong, but Amber just keeps making excuses for him, foolish woman! Mark puts her down and doesn’t understand why she cares so much about her little company. (She’s only poured her heart and soul into it, Mark!) He’s a jerk to waiters, doesn’t show up to things or is very late, is constantly on his phone, probably works in finance (HORROR!), and, in the most sinister twist, it turns out he was part of the corporate takeover all along.
Sigh. Men, amiright?
… and the right guy was there all along.
But wait, #notallmen! Because, lo and behold, Lauren has a sweet, kindhearted, inexplicably single, male best friend who adores her and it takes her 90 minutes to notice (86 minutes, to be precise, plus four minutes of credits). Joe has another female friend who is his cousin or his sister or else keeps reminding us that she “loves him like a brother” to explain why she doesn’t nab him herself, when she is always lamenting about his state of perpetual singledom since he is such a nice guy.
She has a dead parent …
Probably her mother. She was either the one who started the business or instilled in Jessica a love for cooking/flowers/food which is why she just can’t let the grubby developer get their dirty mitts on it and knock down the building to make way for condos. (Curse you, progress!) Bonus sympathy points for Kelsey if both her parents are dead.
… or a meddling live one.
Probably her mother. She is desperate for Annie to get married because all she wants is for her to start pumping out those grandbabies and she doesn’t care who sires them, dammit. Mama also wants Kristen to have a big wedding to Mr. Finance, but has a teary heart-to-heart with her daughter in the third act, where she admits that she neglected her daughter because she was too busy having her own career (God forbid!) and finally lets her go at the ripe old age of 35.
And finally, Christmas is a hard time of year.
Because it’s when her mother passed away or neglected her most (the same thing, really) and all those happy families make her beautifully sad. But don’t worry, because Victoria will rediscover her love for the season and have her house tinsel-covered and twinkling before the credits roll.