Like thousands of spectators, my grandmother lives for Hallmark Channel movies. She plans her entire December around the Christmas ones, and I say with utmost certainty that she has seen them all—even the 30+ films that Hallmark has released this holiday season alone.
You can tell Hallmark movies are usually pretty low-budgeted. There’s extreme product-placement in them to show sponsors. The acting usually isn’t that convincing. And the writing is usually a textbook example of a cliché. But people eat them up.
I’ll admit that I’ve seen my share of Hallmark tales, and I would be lying if I said there are not a few that I like. Don’t kid yourself; if you don’t live for Hallmark movies or you can’t think of a couple that you at least like… you’re lying.
My grandmother recently had surgery and stayed two nights in the hospital for observation. I spent a large amount of time in her hospital room, where the television never wavered from the constant stream of Hallmark Christmas flicks. After watching about the fourth one in a row, I realized something: almost every single Hallmark movie has the same plot. They just have different characters and settings.
Think I’m wrong? Here is the basic plot for almost every Hallmark movie you’ve ever seen.
You’ve got your main character. We’ll call her Kate (the main characters always have overly-common names). And she’s headstrong and determined. She might have had some trouble in the past; if not, she will have a little trouble in the foreseeable future. But she has a heart of gold. Her house/apartment/cabin/mansion looks absolutely pristine, and her hair always falls perfectly.
And Kate’s got this boyfriend, right? He’s a businessman in a big city. He wears suits and he’s successful. He’s really not a bad guy, but he’s a little too tied to his job.
Anyway, Kate finds herself in a small town. It might be her hometown or it might be a place where she just ends up because of traveling or because her car breaks down or whatnot.
And there’s this guy in this little town. We’ll call him Sam (again, it’s a really common name). Kate runs into Sam, and they stare into each other’s eyes for just a little too long.
Sam is handsome in his nice sweater, and he has a job that is rugged—like a carpenter, or a doctor, or an owner of a local goods store. They depart, only to keep running into each other again.
Then, Kate faces some sort of problem. Either the town café is closing, or Kate’s first novel can’t seem to get published, or the annual Christmas parade is in jeopardy. She spends the majority of the movie trying to fix said problem. But wouldn’t you know it? Sam is either the owner of the town café, or a professional writer, or the Santa in the parade! What are the odds?
Kate and Sam find themselves working very closely together, and eventually they end up on a date, but they don’t really call it a date. It has a candlelit dinner. Or a live band. Or horses. There’s almost always horses.
At the end of their “not” date, the two of them almost kiss. Almost. Instead, they bid each other goodnight.
HOWEVER, the next day, who shows up? Why, it’s none other than Kate’s irrelevant boyfriend! He has come all this way to surprise her! He might even be carrying a ring to propose to her! Kate is suddenly reminded that she is taken and poor Sam is left with only the memory of their “almost” kiss.
But something just isn’t right here. Kate realizes she is unhappy with her irrelevant boyfriend. She politely breaks it off with him with some form of the phrase, “It’s not you. It’s me.” And he unrealistically understands.
Before Kate expresses her love for Sam, she magically saves the café, or gets a call from a publishing company, or plans a perfect Christmas parade! Yay! And then, at the very end, Kate tells Sam how she really feels, which calls for a huge liplock. We expect they live happily ever after. Annnnnd fade to black.
Tell me that was not insanely accurate.
Within the first five minutes of watching a Hallmark Movie, you know exactly how it will end, what the main conflict will entail, and with whom the protagonist will fall in love. But there’s something intriguing about them.
You’ve never finished watching a Hallmark movie feeling negatively. They’re the ultimate feel-good films. Although they may not be the most well-done movies in cinematic history, they are a good break from the non-stop intensity of action thrillers or grueling dramas or grotesque comedies. They’re the kind of movies you can halfway pay attention to while you’re making hot cocoa—the kind of movies that put a smile on your face.
So for all you Hallmark lovers, nestle in and binge. For you Hallmark haters, relax—the cast and crew are not trying to win any Academy Awards. And for you normal people who fall somewhere in between, tune in for a Hallmark flick while you’re wrapping your Christmas presents. Nothing will make you feel better.