From Hannah: Two years ago, I somehow convinced everyone to let me do a show on cheesy Christmas movies. And by wanting to talk about “cheesy” holiday films, what I really meant was “let’s talk about all these really ‘bad’ (but also sometimes kind of really fun and good in their own way) romantic comedies set around the holidays.” You know, the movies that Hallmark and Lifetime have specialized in, but now Netflix and other streaming services have realized will get tons of views. Like, for example, Netflix’s The Princess Switch or the greatest punny title ever The Knight Before Christmas.
If you listened to our 2018 episode (or watched a random selection of Hallmark movies), you might remember how we talked about the genre tropes (e.g., small town > city life). (I, personally, am still offended on behalf of the protagonist of Christmas Inheritance whose script demands she pay penance for … having ambition? She is far kinder and deserves way more than the movie gives her but WHATEVER.)
We also talked about how the large majority of these movies are extremely heteronormative, feature majorly white casts (especially if you’re the Hallmark Channel), and many tend to romanticize the upper-classes (just how many movies can you actually make about princes at Christmas??!?!?). Things have somewhat changed in two years: for example, Hallmark has developed more-diverse films since 2018 and Hulu’s Happiest Season (which is centered around a woman who wants to propose to her girlfriend) is currently receiving mostly positive reviews. So I do want to discuss just how big these changes are and the future of these films, positive and negative.
But while we critically analyze these films, I also want to think about why we still might find them comforting. Especially those that are clearly made with love … no matter how ridiculous the plot lines might be. Why are they important cultural objects? (And, yes, I’m making the statement that this trend is important.)
Also, and this is very important: The Princess Switch: Switched Again is delightful.