Hallmark has made a name for itself in the Christmas movie niche. The channel has churned a lot of movies over the years, and as such, some patterns have emerged. So please join me as I analyze these tropes and have some rude fun mocking them.
Incredibly Well-Timed Romantic Carolers: Trope #1
Christmas carolers in romantic movies are like a group of hive-minded shippers. Once they see a man and women walking around together, something activates within them. Compelled by either the ethereal Christmas spirit, an eye for pairings, or just dumb luck, these magical, perfectly dressed carolers will swoop in and serenade the love interests. Their voices are perfect and clear. They are always perfectly dressed and clean. And they soon disappear without a trace, never to be seen again.
Its understandable why this is a trope. Carolers provide a sense of Christmas whimsy. They are a unique staple of the holiday, and show how holiday-ish the atmosphere is. They also serve as a way to focus on the special two love interests. Yet, this trope is still very cheesy, but hardly as cheesy as the next trope on this list.
Incredibly Immaculate and Professionally Decorated House and Elaborate Foods Despite Having Life and Stuff: Trope #2
Christmas decorating takes time, work, and some sense of interior design. You need, not only the motivation, but also the time. Time is very important, and often sapped by things such work, child rearing, and general house maintenance. Even if one is able to decorate, its often a mishmash of various holiday themed items strewn about here and there. With that in mind, one of the oddest things in these movies is how perfectly decorated and clean these houses are.
This trope is one of the most obvious to spot because its so unlike reality. I might be limited by my own experience, but who owns a house this beautiful? Where are the spills? The half eaten foods? And why are their never any dishes to clean? People live in these houses, right?
Woman Has Way More Chemistry with Everyone But Her Love Interest: Trope #3
The protagonist of a Hallmark movie is usually a professional women who finds love with some other dude. The problem is that she often ends up being more shippable with pretty much everyone but her designated love interest. Her coworkers, her secretary, even the friendly shop owners she knows, all make much more compelling love interests than the actual love interest.
This is often the case due to either really bad writing for the love interest, really good writing for the secondary cast members, or some combination of the two. Often the female lead will have heart-to-heart conversations with her secretary or friendly shop owner about her feelings and what she wants. Often she’ll open up more with her friends about who she loves and have a better relationship with them than her love interest. The result is that one becomes more involved in the relationship of the protagonist and her friends than the love interest, and you start wishing that the movies might push some boundaries and have her and her secretary elope.
Incredibly Clean Cities: Trope #4
I don’t think I’ll ever forget my class trip to New York. The city is vast, huge, and home to so many humans. As such, it can also be very dirty. This applies to cities like Denver or San Diego. Further, there are also construction projects, graffiti, people living on the streets. In essence, there’s a lot of stuff going on.
But in the reality of Hallmark movies, everything is different. Streets are constantly clean. There is no such things as construction projects, homeless people, potholes. Even through snow storms, the city remains perfectly clean in every way shape or form.
Its Always a White Christmas Despite Historic Weather Patterns: Trope #5
Perhaps its because of the stability of my life, the romanticism, and the stories I grew up with, but white Christmases are awesome. Hallmark agrees too, which is why, no matter the year, the time, or the place, there will always be a white Christmas.
Except that White Christmases aren’t actually such a guarantee. Depending on where you live, it might actually never happen. And even if you live in say, New York City, Maryland, Seattle, your chances won’t be great, despite years of snowy Hallmark movies saying otherwise, unless of course you in live in a…
Magical, Isolated, and Christmas Obsessed Small Town: Trope #6
A classic staple of these films is the magical Christmas (Never Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or anything else, just Christmas) town. For some reason, sometimes tourism, religion, or general over-zealousness, this town is always obsessed with Christmas, year round. And come December, the town goes into super holiday mode. Giant trees, decorations everywhere, people focused on nothing but the holiday, barring tragic back stories.
Even better if the town is named something on the nose like: Miracle Town, Santa’s Village, or even Christmas. Additional bonus points for being the secret home of Santa and his toy shop. Speaking of Santa…
Santa Exists and No One Cares or Believes in Him Despite Verifiable Evidence: Trope #7
The idea of Santa is disturbing if one stops to think about it. This one man and his elves are spying on children around the world to make moral judgements based on a binary of naughty or nice. He answers to no one but himself, invades children’s entire privacy, and then uses gifts as a form of emotional conditioning based on children believing in him. That is very morally disturbing. Worse still, despite verifiable evidence, parents either don’t care or don’t even believe in Santa.
Are you telling me parents around the world aren’t a bit perturbed by seeing presents under the tree that they know they didn’t put there? That they never talk to other parents about these gifts? That this man has people worshiping him in song and movies like a demigod? Everything surrounding this man is growing creepier and creepier.
Dramatic Christmas Magic: Trope #8
Something else that happens a lot in this movies is Christmas magic. And its magic and Christmas and usually occurs so a guy and girl can fall in love or have some wish fulfilled in a weird way. When it happens, Christmas magic uses the skills it learned in acting class to add some drama to the situation. Wind will blow inexplicably, dogs might look around, and inexplicable sparkle sounds will come out of nowhere.
Random Actors You Wouldn’t Expect from Shows You Know: Trope #9
Something else that’s fun about these specials is seeing actors you’d never expect to see. They may have been a staple of your childhood, or from you favorite Canadian comedy that somehow got trapped in the Hallmark Holiday blackhole.
Two of my favorite examples would have to be Lori Loughlin who played Rebecca on Full House/Fuller House and Gabrielle Miller who played Lacey Burrows on Corner Gas (The best Canadian comedy about a small town gas station in Saskatchewan of all time.). Its so weird to see them plays leads in these specials, and you start to realize acting is job, and that often means going places. It can be very weird.
Weirdly Lovable Despite Everything: Trope #10
Despite the unrealistic, silly, and sometimes scary tropes, these movies are somehow still stupidly lovable. Its weird. But maybe its because these movies are so silly that they’re fun to make fun of. Some of my best memories of these movies are of me and my family mocking them. I don’t know if this truly qualifies as a trope, but I feel like it still counts. Because ultimately we still watch these movies. Part of the fun is turning off your brain, and just accepting how bad some of it all is. Even the dumbest of movies sometimes have an earnestness to them that’s just so charming.
Special Thanks to this blog I found that reviews Hallmark movies