The Hallmark Utopia and the Mysterious Sex-Free Life

By Breana Ceballos / Matthew Burroughs

 

Imagine perfection.

Picture in your mind the perfect location, the perfect friends, the perfect job, everything in its pure ideal. Envision a world free of prejudice, free of crime. A world free of the sickly, infirmed, and even free of the unattractive. While one person’s utopia can be another one’s living hell, this “perfect” world we just described can be discovered by anyone with a basic cable subscription.

It’s The Hallmark Channel.

Just a single decade ago, The Hallmark Channel (merely a landing spot for The Golden Girls returns) has become a veritable factory of light hearted romantic comedy movies (thus extending the careers of long since forgotten character actors). Switch on Hallmark Channel right now and you’ll likely see one of the broads from Party of Five making time with one of the guys from One Tree Hill set against a tame, gentle American town or mild interpretation of a bustling city. Millions of people waste billions of hours per year watching these films, but why?

What do we REALLY think of these movies, and what does it say about us?

After a spirited discussion at Popluker HQ that quickly derailed into a manifesto of socio-economic marginalization (like it always does), Breana and Matthew volunteered to watch a few Hallmark classics as a re-fresher, and then share our thoughts and feelings on Hallmark as a whole.

 

Understand How We Watch

alan thicke candace.PNG
One little, two little, three wealthy white folk…

Breana

You have to believe me when I tell you that every year, EVERY YEAR, I sit on the couch the day starting from Thanksgiving Day and watch EVERY SINGLE Christmas movie they have. I’m also guilty of yelling at the TV during their Valentine’s Marathons. “Just kiss her you MORON!”

 

Matt

There is no time of year in which it’s inappropriate to watch a Hallmark movie. Whether it’s a “Spring Fling” a “June Wedding,” “Harvest Miracle,” or the classic Christmas film, usually a couple of hours of each week is devoted to watching some Hallmark masterpiece in its entirety. Quite frankly in 2018, it’s one of the only reasons we keep our cable subscription.

 

What to Look for in a Hallmark Film

vineyard
Keep your hands where the camera can see them, DAD.

Breana

Here is what I am hoping for when I watch these movies… What I want to see is some genuine attraction. Some alluding to the fact that in between the scenes they are hardcore fucking. Something, anything, that would tell me that these characters that I am supposed to be so invested in are having a really great time when we aren’t looking.

Here is what I get.

Some glances, some playful words, a peck on the cheek and a most respectful (and boring) kiss on the mouth toward the end of the movie.

I’m also really into watching the ghost of Alan Thicke fight with Candace Cameron Bure over whether or not they should sell that lodge at Christmas time. You throw in someone I used to watch on TV as a kid and it’s weirdly hard not to watch.

 

Matt

I turn to my wife and ask her simply, “Why do we watch Hallmark movies?” Without even a pause, she replied, “Because you hold the remote.” Fine, this looks to be my issue to explain. While the characters and cheesy scenarios are laughably unrealistic, I still find myself wanting a small piece of the life of these people. Watching a Hallmark movie is like playing house. No one really holds down a job, the only things to do are to play dress up, cook, and hold hands in a tree house (sometimes literally). It’s tough to admit, but there really is a value to the escapism of real world problems where the only thing to worry about is falling in love.

 

 

Tragic Hallmark Tropes

 

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Even the posters look like budget pulp novels

 

Breana

It occurred to me while thinking of the best Hallmark movies to watch for this article, that no matter which I watched it would all turn out the same. You want to know how every Hallmark movie plays out? Here you go.

Option A: Engaged couple are having a hard time and end up breaking up. Sad lonely white woman who has a business meets a client and they end up falling in love. There are some bumps along the way but don’t worry because it’s fucking magical and they were meant to be.

Option B: Single white woman in charge of kids (hers or kids inherited from a dead sibling) is down on her luck. Maybe she loses her job. Needs to find supplemental income because there are these kids that need to be fed. Somewhere along the way she finds a job but uh oh she has to lie a tiny bit to get it. She does a bang-up job and either a prince or the owner of the company sweeps her off her feet at the end. But she lied so she is a terrible woman. Can they ever overcome it? Even when the guy said he Hates liars? Well they can because it’s fucking magical and it was meant to be.

Option C: Widowed white man with a child wants to start over and moves back to his hometown. Single white lady who owns a business makes friends with said child and they become a happy family because, it’s fucking magical and they were meant to be.

Here is a side note coming from someone who worked at a Hallmark card shop. Their movies are a giant commercial for what products are coming out that year. They put in anything that they sell and hide it in the decor. Or they make a big to do about it like oh my god what a great gift idea!

 

Matt

Hallmark movies are of course far from perfect. While the lack of any implied sexual activity can be frustrating, I can accept the desire to make a program that anyone can sit down and watch. They never FORBID sex, it’s simply not something that’s worried about in this universe. Something else that’s not worried about: money. Money is no object in the Hallmark world. Sure, maybe the community center is lacking in funding and it’s implied that some under-privileged children might not get enough iPhones or whatever…but inevitably Al from Home Improvement, or that lady from Groundhog Day will angel-seed enough money to fix whatever little problems come along the way.

Maybe the female just lost her BIG MONEY job in the city, but not to worry, her dad invented pop-tarts or some shit which means the checks keep coming, and the apartment still looks like the Pier-1 showroom. They don’t even make lifestyle changes when financial tragedy strikes. The office is going bankrupt…TIME FOR A VACATION!

Speaking of the female lead, why are her shortcomings and mistakes so easily forgiven, or more importantly, why are they always justified? We the viewer, are never permitted to blame the female lead for anything. She’s engaged, why is she kissing that flannel wearing flame from high school? Well I’m sure it was fiancé Stuffy McBusiness’ fault back in Chicago, so typical.

Well I guess it’s not so bad, she was just coming off the death of her grandfather…or father…or brother, SOMEONE recently died, and tragically. Death in Hallmark land is never from old age, or natural causes. It’s never adequately explored, but this death sure shook things up for the main characters. This leads to one of my favorite games when watching Hallmark: “pick the death.” Oh her father? Poisoned by raw cookie dough. Father of the male lead? Tragic fortune cookie factory explosion. Her first husband? Well all that was left were some smoking cowboy boots, so we’ll never quite be sure.

 

Therefore, Our Broad Conclusions Are…

 

xmas_movies.jpg

Christmas in the B-List Alps

Breana

So, there is all this magic happening: Romance, Christmas miracles etc. But we never see anything juicy happen. So why do I watch these? For some reason it scratches an itch. Maybe I just think Canada is a magical land where everyone is White, Rich, and has a business. People have Barbie Doll mounds where their genitals are supposed to be and kids are acquired through writing a letter and sending it off… wait… that’s Boss Baby. I don’t know how kids are made in a Hallmark Movie actually. I want to see someone give a knowing glance when they are on the prowl like hey that guy has a kid. That means his dick works and that is sexy to me as a woman who is a sexual being. But no. That never happens.

There is something to be said about these movies being so freaking wholesome. They are a nice break from reality. They make it so you don’t have to worry as much about the characters because you know they will be fine. Put the household chores on pause and sit yourself on the couch for hours, escaping the monotony of what is your life.

 

Matt

Let’s consider something important here. Look at the credits to any Hallmark movie and you’ll find that they’re almost always made in Canada. Sure, the stories take place in America, but it’s painfully obvious that the movies are written, directed, and filmed in the Great White North. Ordinarily I wouldn’t think much of something like this. I’m sure it’s cost effective and easier to operate outside of the United States, but I think there is something more sinister at work. Is this what Canadians actually think America is like? Beautiful people with no real problems sulking and sighing about their desire to free themselves of hustle and bustle before moving to rural farmland? Or even worse, is Canada trying to trick our brightest people into abandoning the economy so that they can take destroy and overtake us on the world stage? I know a few Canadians and I refuse to speak with them on this subject, so I’ll assume the worst and keep stocking my doomsday bunker.

What were we talking about again?

 

The Future of Hallmark Movies

 

Royal-Hearts-Poster.jpg

Maybe the three of them will get freaky…

Breana

HEY HALLMARK! It’s 2018. Did you know that gay marriage is legal most places? Can we please have a Christmas Magic movie about two gay men who fall in love? They can be rival decorators who compete in a Christmas light contest. When they first start they do everything they can to one up each other. Then something happens to guy A, let’s say he falls off a ladder and guy B has to take care of him until his ankle heals. In the meantime, they fall in love because they are both lonely bachelors who moved away from their hometowns because no one understood them and they needed to start over to be true to themselves. You can end it with a kiss on the cheek or the forehead I don’t care. Your movies are all so rated G it hurts.

Or please, please can you have a Lesbian couple fall in love? Or maybe a woman who was married and widowed and will never love another man again fall in love with a beautiful empowered black woman?

I know that I am not the demographic for these movies but I hope that one day they can put some new material out that is LGBT positive. Maybe that can’t happen until all of the higher ups kick the bucket because we all know Aunt Louis would have a fit if she ever saw a gay couple but the world is changing. Hallmark seems to be stuck in a time warp where everything is Upper Class, White, and people still send letters.

 

Matt

Going forward, I’d like to see Hallmark take a few extra risks. Yeah ok, so the sex thing probably isn’t going to happen, but maybe they can imply it a little harder. Even something as simple as the love interests eating breakfast together in the morning after some unexplained evening visit. Even a PG rating as opposed to a G would be a step in the right direction.

But let’s get back to what’s really important: Canadian domination, or their planned domination at least. Canada gets a lot of praise for being progressive. They’ve got that hot soft-boy for a prime-minister, and I assume all their laws, real estate rules, and eating habits are all perfectly above reproach. But if they’re so great, how come they keep everything safe and cozy when it comes to the lifestyles and such of the main characters? Look, I’m not smart enough to make a statement about what some movie characters should or shouldn’t look like or love or whatever…but I can tell you that with each passing season, the lines between “quaintly out of touch” and “tragically behind the times” are only going to become more blurred.

 

 

Breana has a Twitter and it’s the most wholesome place in the world. Matthew has a Twitter as pristine as a Canadian SIMS-like Utopia.

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2 Comments

  1. I just assumed, like most other movies, they were cocaine fronts.

    I can’t remember where I saw it, but someone highlighted the fact that Hallmark uses the same goddamn gazebo in almost all of their movies.

    Liked by 1 person

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