Dear Hallmark channel,
It’s that time of the year again! You’ve announced your holiday movie lineup and the angels sang and snow began to fall and visions of sugar plums danced in my head. Okay, so that all happened in my mind’s eye but I definitely felt my heart go pitter-patter as I scanned the list of new releases. All over Facebook there are giddy posts from friends who eagerly anticipate this annual tradition and can’t wait for the chance to escape to worlds where people get stranded in little towns where Santa just happens to have his actual workshop and there won’t be any gifts for the children if the main character doesn’t come to the rescue.
Or where women feel the pressure to bring home a significant other for Christmas so they hire someone as a fill-in boyfriend only to find that they really are actually falling in love. Or girl/boy returns to small hometown and bumps into their high school sweetheart and, even though she/he is there to tear down the local factory, they rekindle their romance and she/he is able to save the town from bankruptcy.
But, I have to confess something to you Hallmark channel. This year I’m feeling just a little less enthusiastic. I think it has to do with how I felt at the end of last year’s holiday season. I am pretty sure that I watched every single movie and yet each time I was left with the sense that something was missing, something was lacking.
And as I reflected on that feeling I thought about all of the Hallmark movies that are my most favorite. Movies like ‘Sarah, Plain and Tall’ and ‘The Magic of Ordinary Days’. What was it about those movies that left me feeling so much more satisfied than any of the recent ones in the holiday lineup?
I think that, at its core, what I’ve felt is a desire for something deeper, something a bit less candy-coated and more of a reflection of real life. The Hallmark movies I love the most are filled with characters who have more troubles than just having their car break down in the middle of the North Pole. Their lives are more complex, more challenging, more like well, my own life.
You see the reason I particularly love the ‘Sarah, Plain and Tall’ series so much is because there was hardship and loss and pain and yet it was so beautifully weaved into a love story. And that love story resonated more with me in the end because they didn’t magically fall in love with each other in three days and live happily ever after.
It’s not that I don’t see the need for an opportunity to escape a bit. To be transported to a world where you might find yourself trapped in a snow globe which is really an alternate universe that gives you a glimpse of what your life would be like if you had made different choices.
But, Hallmark channel, would it be so hard to temper the sticky sweet by adding a little bit more of the bittersweet to the story line?
Ecclesiastes 7:14 says, “When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider this: God has made the one as well as the other.”
The older I get and the more I mature in my life and in my faith, the more I realize just how much beauty there is in the mess and how much sweeter the good times are because I’ve tasted the bitterness of the hard times. It is a foregone conclusion that our lives will contain both and so I have grown to embrace them knowing how each adds depth.
Don’t get me wrong, I definitely love a happy ending and I would definitely be disappointed if all of Hallmark’s movies suddenly turned into tragic sob stories.
But, maybe there could be a bit more of a balance.
I’m not really sure how many of the newly released holiday movies I’ll be watching this year. Oh sure, I’ll probably have the channel on while I wrap gifts. And I will keep an open mind because you just never know when you’ll come across a gem!
But, I think I might just have to go back and see if I can dig up some of those original Hallmark movies. They might not have a candy cane lane or an undercover Santa, but perhaps instead they will more accurately capture the essence of the season.
A season which celebrates peace and joy and that moment in history when love came down in the form of an infant.
Hallmark channel, thank you for always offering us wholesome entertainment. I know you might be hesitant to mess with a seemingly good thing, but I promise you that we can handle it.
We can handle the heartfelt mixed with the heartache, the merry with melancholy. Because out of all of the emotions, one emerges stronger than the rest.
And, in our world today I believe that is the one thing we can all agree we need to see a little bit more of, wouldn’t you agree?
May your days be merry and bright,
Oh my, Vanessa! I agree so much! I can’t even watch Hallmark any more because it is the same old story every time. I am not really into love stories because usually they are just silly. But I would definetly watch a movie on the level of Sarah, Plain and Tall! I sure hope they read your post.
I totally agree with you! Hallmark used to have a greater quality of movies and yes, there were hardships but amazingly, the people involved made it through! The movies now are so sappy and almost all the same except for a car breaking down, amnesia, turning the town into a resort, etc. Just a variation on those themes.
Carol Gawron says
Agree and hope they read her letter and mine when I finally write and send it.
Shanna M Boomershine says
I completely agree! Jesus is the reason for the Season. So if we aren’t celebrating the gift of the Messiah for all tribes and nations, then what are we really celebrating? With all the “pretty” things that come along with the Christmas season, we can feel a little “less than” if we somehow don’t model a Hallmark-esque Christmas in our own homes. I do love the wholesomeness, but as we look at the multitude of struggles around us, there must be a message of hope and redemption in both the beautiful and the broken.
Carol Gawron says
Thank you for sending Hallmark that letter. I’ve thought about sending one of my own and maybe now that I see you and the others that all agree with you, I believe I will also send a letter. Another thing that bothers me is that they start it soooooo early, when most of use are busy decorating, baking, etc. so that when can actually since down to enjoy them, you’ve alread seen them dozens of times and there is nothing new to watch.
I have never watched one of these Christmas movies….could be my age, 63 going on 64…but they truly all the same….which I find boring….sappy sugary sweet dim witted cute young things…I have seen the previews….I do like their Sunday series….but they are all pretty much the same too…
I want some thinking in a movie…and not every movie needs a happy ending, life isn’t like that
Mariann Del Signore says
I haven’t watched these movies in years for the same reasons. They are predictable & sugary sweet romances that just use Christmas for a backdrop. I want real people that will inspire me
to be more patient, giving and forgiving. And people that look like the rest of us! Great pos!
Vicki S says
I read this story line and although I do agree that the Christmas movies all have pretty much the same story line – I look forward to watching them every holiday season. I’m 64, happily married, grown kids with their own kids – but after a day of working at a cancer center coming home in the evenings and watching the movies puts my mind at a different resting place. Of course the stories are not realistic – and we all know thery are happily ever afters. But is there actually anything wrong with that? I know not to take these as a true way of life. I have to disagree and sort of disappointed that with all the things going on in the world – why not escape to the Hallmark channel on occasion! LOL
At The Picket Fence says
Oh Vicki I can’t imagine how hard it must be to work in a cancer center and see what you see all day! Bless you for doing that! I’m so glad that you find those Hallmark movies to be a welcome escape from it all and of course there is absolutely nothing wrong with that at all. 🙂 I think we’re all grateful for wholesome entertainment of any sort these days, right?
Love this article! I think we can handle a little more depth one these movies too!
I totally thought that it was just me! Totally agree with your choice of favorites, and that I am tired of the sickly sweet silly movies that seem to be what is produced lately.
Connie Clark says
I totally agree with you!!!!! I love the Sarah movies they had such heart and they where realistic! Great article👏
Diane Lawrence says
Love this, Vanessa! My life is tough also, and I know the lives of others are even more complicated & difficult. I hope Hallmark takes your suggestion to heart.
I also agree–Hallmark has gone the way of same storyline, different people. My favorites were “The Christmas Ornament” and “Christmas in Conway”. They’ve only put them on like once or twice since their release, and always at 3AM! And they aren’t even available for purchase, unlike all the sappy garbage. I hope Hallmark takes your hint…
I used to watch Hallmark movies until they started becoming cookie cutter and so sticky sweet that I want to gag. I love the idea of good wholesome entertainment and commend them for that, but someone in marketing has come up with the bright idea that if six movies have the same theme, why not a dozen or five dozen?? The repetition and sameness drove me away last season. I wish the consumer would be given credit for having a brain!!!
Actually, I disagree. I love Hallmark just the way it is. There is enough real life right outside my door,
I am in hearty agreement with you and your followers, Vanessa. I too find myself watching the holiday Hallmark movies less and less because they are all basically the same reworked story and the acting and dialogue is so downright silly at times. There is less and less real life storytelling and emotion. If you are like me I just record my older more real life holiday movies and watch them instead of the newer reworked same old fluff. Deborah
No please leave them candy coated. I love them just as they are. I never stress about the ending. I know some are even silly but I love each and every one of them. Of course I am diasagreeing agreeably.
At The Picket Fence says
That was definitely agreeable disagreeing Nancy and I loved it! It really is nice not having to stress about the ending or be left wondering if you have to turn off the tv before it’s over, right? All the best to you and thank you for stopping by!
I totally agree with you… I stopped watching the movies last year for all the reasons you stated. I wish they would go back to only producing a few quality movies like Sarah Plain and Tall and the Magic of Ordinary Days. The Hallmark Hall of Fame movies are the best. Back in the 90’s there were a few good Christmas movies that I enjoyed. A few years ago when I started to see how Hallmark was changing and I would never get to see the good movies again, I searched the internet to find DVD’s of them. As another reader stated in a comment… I hope they read your post.
I agree, Plus, I’m not 30 something. In fact I’m double that. I’m tired of the giggly 30 somethings in some of these movies. How about some real women 40+ who have interesting stories. It seems that even in their morning Home and Family program they’ve abandoned those of us who are over a certain age.
mary scott says
Agree with you 100%. I have to add I find the almost continuous background music distracting to the predictable story line. I find myself looking at the clock to see when it’s over when I watch one any more. Many are boring & slow moving. The single parent with the perfect child finds instant true love with a perfect stranger……
I’m personally just happy to see that there are so many Hallmark Channel watchers out there! In some circles, I am a little bit embarrassed to let people know that I love watching it as much as I do! It is comforting to me to watch these stories, with characters that you would enjoy having as friends, in places that are often small towns with beautiful scenery. They are a fun escape for me. I do agree that some are sappy and predictable, and there are definitely some regular actors that I enjoy more than others, but in a world (TV and real) filled with violence and heavy topics, I am very thankful that the Hallmark Channel is there. I also love the mystery shows! Perhaps they need some new writers and/or some new story ideas?
Perfect post! I hope you share this with Hallmark! I appreciate the fact that they don’t promote violence, sexual scenes, profanity and more. I am just tired of the same themes, just different characters and small towns. I dearly loved the movies of the past ~ at least they were more like real life.
I don’t get excited about the holiday season now because of the same repetitive themes. I know Hallmark can do better!
Well said! I thought I was the only one feeling that way. Hallmark movies have become so predictable it’s almost impossible not to guess the plot and ending as they’re all the same. They don’t leave anything to the imagination. The movies with the prince and pauper story has been done so many times I don’t bother to watch them anymore.
Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones.
I came across your letter by searching – “what has changed at hallmark?” I have actually been unable to watch thru this season – Sorry Hallmark , but someone in production needs to look back over the years of wonderful programming . Not just Christmas program either .Everyone is not a highly paid professional, from a mega money family , that just happened to need help running their thousand acre ranch, or own the side of a mountain, an inn on Martha’s Vineyard, or a mega Xmas tree or tulip farm – worth millions of $. I’m glad to see others share my opinion . Garage Sale mystery -lives in a million dollar home – Miss Teagarden-awful nice house on a single librarians salary too – I suppose I’ve made my point. 🤨 you’ve lost touch with your audience Hallmark Please come back to your roots 😊P.S. would not miss the “marry a Prince” stuff that’s what Disney is for .
Could not agree more with all the comments saying Hallmark movies are the same old, same old story every time. However, that’s not even what bothers me the most. The biggest change I’ve seen over the years is the growing lack of commitment on the part of the people who fall in love. We used to see marriage proposals at the end. Now the best we get, which mirrors the current culture, is a kiss at the end, or an invitation to work together at the family business, or to live in the same town together. Rarely is “the rest of our lives” even mentioned, although we do hear it sometimes. But never marriage. I knowI should not expect Hallmark to mirror what I believe in Biblically, but surely we can expect more than a kiss at the end of these 21st century movies?