For 30 years I have been belly aching and moaning about the predictability of television. I rant about how formulaic it is and how nothing can keep my attention for more than 2 minutes which is why I need my laptop, phone, sketchpad and suduko to handle watching a 30 minute show with my husband. So why the heck can't I stop watching these damn Hallmark Movies!
"What are you doing?"
Apparently, over the soothing sound of a choir of sweet, but plucky, pink cheeked tiny children singing Oh Christmas Tree and the intermittent soft sighing and muffled mitten clapping of a the beautiful but overworked and under fulfilled advertising executive, I didn't hear my husband walk in and ask, "What are you doing?"
I mumble something about checking the news, this dumb remote and that dinner is almost ready. The fact is that dinner is not almost ready. I am going to have to grab some leftover rice, pluck the remnants of the Costco rotisserie chicken from the carcass and throw it together with Trader Joe cajun corn into the cast iron pan and pretend that was the plan and has been in the works for some time now. The whole time lamenting silently in my sweats and uncombed hair that I didn't get to see the end of the Hallmark movie that I was too embarrassed to admit to watching.
My husband and I have been married 34 years. I've admitted that I have eaten a whole tub of Tilamook Rocky Road in one sitting, that I have gone a whole week only using dry shampoo and baby wipes, that I really never listen when he explains (in agonizing detail) the steps involved in his beer making process. So why is it so hard to admit that I watch Hallmark Christmas movies? I will tell you why. I have complained for so long and with such passion and fervor about how boring and predictable all television is that admitting to liking these movies, that are the gold standard for formulaic is impossible. I'm afraid it will make him question everything that he thinks he knows about me, am I suddenly going to admit to liking kombucha and horror movies (an adamant no, I promise dear). So what is the deal Hallmark? What subliminal magic have you baked into these shallow, homogenized, one-note, ceaseless cinematic offerings? Disney is terrifyingly forbidding comparitvely. Hallmark has not even toyed (ha ha) with adding the tiniest of plot twists. I know who the beautiful and kind but troubled leading lady is, who the strong and handsome but guarded boyfriend will be and who the jealous and a little less beautiful girl who will try to ruin their love is before the opening credits finish rolling. I know that the town will be quaint, the clothes expensive and perfectly tailored (oddly even for the quaint country folk), the hot cocoa plentiful and the story sappy, ridiculous and oh so very very very predictable, And yet, I can't stop watching.
I have a theory.
Life is clearly not a Hallmark movie. Global warming, impeachment, bullying, layoffs, plastic in the oceans, drugs, gluten, cancer, divorce, death and taxes, just to name a few very very un-Hallmark things. I think that is why for a couple hours I want to sit on the couch with a fuzzy blanket, a sugar cookie and a mug of cocoa with marshmallows and fill up on the safe, sparkly, sweet, sappy, elixir that Hallmark pedals this time of year. There is a calmness that comes with knowing in the end that everything will turn out perfectly, that goodness and kindness and perfectly coiffed hair will triumph. That meanies will get their comeuppance, that there is always time to make cookies and the magic of Christmas is real. Well at least that is what I'm going to tell my husband, while he shakes more hot sauce on his mediocre dinner and I ask him if I could just check really quick to see if the tree farm is saved and the girl forgives the boy and if they kiss under the mistletoe and if they live happily ever after. And then I promise I will watch Gold Rush with him. (but that show is so damn scripted and predictable).
Snippets of our version of a Hallmark Christmas