Ho, ho, ho. It’s that time of year again when people watch cheery holiday movies to distract themselves from regular life. Coincidentally, this is also when the Hallmark Channel rakes in the big bucks for low-budget, awfully written, cheesy Christmas movies.
Many of us love to hate the cringey flicks but here’s the thing: I’ve got a bone to pick with the Hallmark Channel. The main themes in these films are consistent: fluffy white snow and a merry white Christmas — being celebrated by primarily white people.
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the popular Hallmark movies people flock to for their holiday joys are completely unrepresentative of racialized people – many of which celebrate Christmas – and present a lack of intersectionality across the board.
It appears the Hallmark Channel has struggled with diversity of all kinds, keeping their typical movie premise focusing on heterosexual white couples.
We could do an in-depth dive into why the film industry is so unrepresentative and so tentative to display racialized people as main characters in these films, but we already know their movies are largely made by and cater to white people.
So first, let’s focus on the movies themselves. In order to understand why Hallmark movies are unrepresentative, it is important to look at the way these movies are structured.
It can become incredibly taxing to delve into racialized topics, and so first I ask of the Hallmark Channel, where is the plot? Where is the originality? Where is the flavour? These movies are so bland.
Other big budget production companies like Netflix have been competing for the crown of near-unbearably cliche holiday movies, with new releases like The Princess Switch and The Princess Switch: Switched Again (where you guessed it—the princesses switch again), but the Hallmark Channel remains the reigning champion in oh-so-awful holiday films.
Hallmark movies date back as far as 2001, but their influence is as profound as ever. Even new apps like TikTok show the influence that these Hallmark films have over the general population, with users paying tribute to their favourite flavourless films. Honestly, I’ve seen better plotlines in the ‘y/n’ TikTokers videos.
The basic formula of each movie is simple: a cute girl moves away from home to the big city and returns for the holidays as a big-shot. Then the cute girl meets a boy from high school who stayed in their hometown and it ends with them getting married – something along those lines.
Alternatively, a simple working girl meets a prince, knight, or rich man and after a bumpy start to their relationship, also ends up marrying them.
Something within the range of plain, predictable, and definitely been done before.
Honestly, it seems like more dynamic story lines happen in real life:
That being said, releasing a few movies with racialized and diverse cast members doesn’t compare to the flood of primarily white films that Hallmark has become known for.
This slow shift towards inclusivity we are seeing is a start to long overdue change, and the Hallmark Channel is no stranger to backlash in this regard. Their social media statement on standing with Black Lives Matter movements sparked backlash, with many people calling it performative and hypocritical.
Vancouver casting director Kris Woznesensky tweeted in response to the Hallmark Channel’s statement saying, “Last time we worked for them no interracial couples were allowed… Also, why did the creative notes for black actors to be ‘less hood’? Do better.”
It’s certainly time for the Hallmark Channel to set an example and do better, and not just by flaunting performative activism or token racialized characters. They have the platform and resources to represent people and stories from all races, religions, sexualities and more.
People from all walks of life celebrate the holiday season. People enjoy holiday movies because they can count on a feel-good ending, and that’s probably one of the main goals the Hallmark Channel seeks to fulfill.
That doesn’t mean holiday movies can’t be diverse, inclusive and have a good plot along the way.