Last holiday season, when speaking to a university class from my alma mater, two students asked if I had been in Hallmark Christmas movies.
I thanked them and said that while I have been on the "Home & Family" talk show on the network - I have not been in any movies. We then figured out which actress they thought I was (maybe it's the red hair?) - and bonded over our mutual obsession with these movies.
If you look at the list of recordings on our DVR from November 1 throughout the holidays. it is jam-packed with Hallmark movies. Scott's DVR habits are bit more upscale and intellectual, and he sweetly tolerates having to scroll through titles such as "It's Christmas, Carol," "Christmas Under Wraps," and "Broadcasting Christmas" to get to his shows. I am also weirdly happy when I am on business travel during the holidays, and discover my hotel has Hallmark on their TV system - something that is about as rare as a sad ending on one of these holiday movies.
Two other girlfriends and I recently chatted about the "formula" for Hallmark movies, and how there must be machine that turns these things out. Choose one from each category, add some snowy, idyllic holiday scenery, and voila! You have a Hallmark Christmas movie. If you're not familiar, here are your basic story options:
A single, super-successful woman, who is a:
- News anchor/talk show host
- PR/advertising/publishing executive
- Holiday parade/Christmas window coordinator
- Candace Cameron Bure
- Alicia Witt
- Lori Loughlin
- Lacey Chabert
Who lives and works in:
- New York City
- San Francisco
- Unnamed large metropolitan area resembling any of the above
Who, just before the holiday season:
- Makes a huge, career-damaging mistake
- Is dumped by her boyfriend
- Lost or never had the Christmas spirit (sad)
- Any combination of the above
And, through a weird series of events, is forced to move to or spend the holiday season in a small town in:
- North Dakota
Where she meets or spends the holiday with a guy (frequently named Nick) who is a:
- Christmas tree stand owner
- Factory owner
- Son of Santa Claus
- Turns out to be her soul mate.
- Helps her rediscover the spirit of Christmas.
- Causes her to realize that small town was where she was meant to be all along.
- All of the above.
And they live happily ever after.
The main alternate theme? A zillion variations of Dickens' "A Christmas Carol." Why watch classic versions when you can see female Scrooges, played by everyone from Tori Spelling to Susan Lucci? Bonus: spirits played by Carrie Fisher (my favorite), William Shatner, or Gary Coleman.
Lest you think I am making fun of this: I Love This Stuff. And apparently, so do millions of other people.
I once saw an interview with director Rob Reiner, in which he observed that all of his movies, at their heart, really have the same theme. He said he keeps making the same movie over and over, because it works.
That is what Hallmark does - and it totally works.
We'll be watching!
Your turn to chime in. What holiday movies do you love to watch? This is a judgement free zone.