And, finally, Christmas royalty: a commoner meets an extraordinarily rude person at work, but fate continues to bring them together and they fall in love – except he’s a prince of a forest of Christmas trees!
These are all offensively harmless romantic comedies that make you wonder if straight women living in rural America are okay (most movies have the female lead giving up his dreams for a man whose whole personality is that it has a square jaw).
For years, the genre has been dominated by Hallmark films aimed at conservative rural American women who feel trapped after marrying their high school sweethearts, having young children, and not leaving the small town they grew up in. These films show them that their life is the one that urban career women covet, that they are the ones who really live the dream. Brand films are a fascinating glimpse of Central America.
Lately, the world of Christmas movies has diversified to appeal to all kinds of people. The plots have grown to be approximately international diplomacy in addition to dresses, there are rare occasions when the female protagonist wins a meaningful career, and even those where our heroine falls in love with the gruff farmer (thank you, Christmas at the Ranch, for having responded to my wishes).
Netflix now has a movie with a male actor who returns to his hometown to find out he loves his male best friend. Even Hallmark and Lifetime added their first queer characters.
This year, Hallmark is releasing a sequel to 2020 A Christmas house (which outrageously featured a gay brother, a big step after Hallmark released a jewelry ad in 2019 for briefly introducing a lesbian couple). And Lifetime released queer movies Christmas setup last year and Under the Christmas tree This year.
Given how bad Christmas movies generally are, one might wonder why so many people watch them. The answer is, they’re like Christmas cracker jokes: most of them are so bad that by making fun of them and making fun of them they can bring the family together.
Alice Clarke is an award-winning freelance journalist, producer and presenter.