Thursday, December 10, 2020

A Hallmark Christmas: Finding Joy in the Cliché (Lydia)


For years, experts have claimed that one of the greatest signs of good storytelling is originality.  Uniqueness.  An ability to surprise your reader with a twist or a plot they never expected.  Effectively utilizing complex themes that make your audience think.  Yet, every Christmas it seems that the opposite becomes true as Hallmark releases yet another collection of Christmas films with almost the same carbon-copied plot. 

And, every year, I see countless people feeling the need to defend why they love this genre of film and storytelling so much.  People who struggle to explain what makes these movies so delightful to the critics who claim that enjoying a story with a predictable plot is, for some strange reason, a sign you are inferior.  That you lack basic artistic taste.  That you don’t have the intelligence to enjoy a “truly” good film or story.  That, instead, you should be more like the intellectually superior critic and tear these films apart piece by piece for countless nit-picky flaws.

Well, I’m here to say, if you love Hallmark Christmas films, good for you!  There’s honestly a lot of reasons why movies like these speak to us, both on an intellectual and a psychological level.  And you by no means should feel ashamed or like you should call these movies a “guilty pleasure.”  In fact, I believe in the spirit of Christmas, I can come up with a list of reasons as to why these films are an acceptable form of art and storytelling just as much as any critically acclaimed film.

The Beauty of Catharsis: One thing we as humans can struggle with can be the weight of memories and feelings we’ve had to repress over the years, whether due to societal expectations, circumstances, etc.  That’s where the idea of catharsis comes into play.  Catharsis is the moment of release.  That amazing sensation you feel when all the tension and anxiety you’ve built up deep inside of you finally come to the surface.  This freeing feeling is in many ways wonderful and healing.  And Hallmark Christmas films are an amazing catalyst for catharsis.  By using a predictable plot, you have time to emotionally prepare and address all sorts of memories, thoughts, and feelings that you may have buried deep or even forgotten.  And, as you watch the film, you can bring yourself a sense of peace as your let go of all the fear and tension, leaving behind instead a sense of joy and wonder with each happy ending.   

88 Minutes of Escape: Escapism is a popular reason for art and film, as it stems from our desires to forget our current problems for a moment and become completely immersed in another world.  And Hallmark films are incredibly effective at this.  By using a familiar plot and story, it becomes easier for you, the viewer, to fantasize about being in that world.  And what better way to escape than to swoon with the main character over her love interest, root for them to get together, and experience the pure bliss of Christmas at the very end?

The Joy in Resting Your Mind: One of the best parts about watching a predictable story is it allows for your mind to shut down.  Sometimes not having to overthink or overanalyze what you’re watching can be beneficial.  It allows for your mind to heal, especially if you’ve been dealing with a ton of stress.  And a Hallmark Christmas film is a warm, welcoming place where you can allow yourself to feel at ease and at rest.

A Family Tradition: Finally, and probably the biggest factor for why many love the Hallmark Christmas films, is tradition.  We are, at our core, creatures of habit and over the years many households have incorporated Hallmark as a staple of their holiday festivities.  “It just isn’t Christmas if we don’t watch Hallmark.”  So, if Hallmark Christmas movies are a part of your family tradition, enjoy!  Part of the fun of Christmas is savoring the traditions nearest and dearest to our hearts with the people we love.

For all these reasons, there’s something to enjoy in a Hallmark film that a critic might claim is too simple or predictable.  So, this holiday, I want to let you know, you don’t have to feel inferior just because you love what you love.  There’s something in every form of art and expression to adore.   

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!


  1. Thank you, Lydia! These are excellent points! For me, I also enjoy that they are much cleaner with no language, violence, or immodesty.

    1. Yes! Clean films and entertainment are so hard to find these days!


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