Every Christmas movie ever
It starts off with a downtrodden girl. Maybe she’s just broken up with a guy she thought she would have ended up marrying. Or maybe she’s stuck in a dead-end job with no leads on new ones. She goes through a whirlwind romance, caught up in puppy love, only to have her heart dashed again. That is, until she finally realises love was right under her nose all along! It is her best friend/neighbour/cocky colleague she has been in love with the whole time.
All of this somehow can only happen around Christmas – festive lights frame warm crackling fires, snow is always powder-fresh and white, and Christmas classics (sleigh bells included) play in the background.
It’s trashy. It’s terribly cliched. It’s Christmas movie magic. And it’s the one time of the year that I, a semi-film snob (not really), will allow it.
The appeal of a guilty pleasure
And I know I’m not the only one too. For many, Christmas romantic comedies are quite the guilty pleasure, providing a sense of escapism from an otherwise dreary existence.
Huffington Post spoke to a number of therapists, psychologists and life coaches who agree that the formulaic plot structure of such movies can provide comfort, especially in a world where complex situations require stressful effort to overcome.
“It’s all figured out in an hour and a half!” explained Kati Morton, a licensed marriage and family therapist on the appeal of cheesy Christmas movies. “We can be attracted to the easy solutions because our day-to-day life can seem to have more questions than answers.”
The positivity is also welcome during the colder months, where seasonal affective disorder (SAD) tends to affect many who relate shorter days and less sunlight with low energy and moodiness. But, with a predictable plot that guarantees a happy ending, that glimpse of idyll is enough to send serotonin straight to the brain.
A much needed respite from 2020
And in such a time like this year, with the coronavirus pandemic affecting every part of our lives, it seems so much like joy to turn to something that reminds us of a simpler time before masks, hand sanitisers and social distancing.
In fact, ChannelNewsAsia reported that Hallmark’s Christmas movies for the year show a world that has not been affected by COVID-19. Where every other production has tried to write the virus into plots (e.g., Dr Meredith Grey is stricken with COVID-19 in its latest season of Grey’s Anatomy), Hallmark has chosen to keep the core of what sells in its Christmas movies – tender moments of hugs and kisses that seem like such a foreign world now.
“The Hallmark brand is about connections and relationships and love and celebrations of the holiday season,” said Michelle Vicary, executive vice president of programming at Crown Media, which owns the Hallmark channels. “There’s a lot of places where you can get darker or edgier or issue-related movies, but what people come to us for is to feel happy and positive and warm and loved.”
This year was hard for me. I was retrenched, lost a loved one, and went through some personal things I’m not ready to face yet. So maybe this is why I’m welcoming cheesy Christmas movies so much this year. After one rough ride that is 2020, I’m ready to fall into a world where everything is perfect, even if it’s just for an hour and a half.
Top 5 Christmas Films to Binge-Watch this Festive Season
An American journalist finds herself caught in a royal conundrum when she is mistaken to be a princess’ new tutor, while trying to break a story on the prince who has been scandalised to be a playboy. Her story doesn’t get published but it doesn’t matter – the prince falls in love with her instead!
Why I love it: I’m a journalist who has had many stories cancelled but zero princes fall in love with me. This is my fantasy.
It’s a page out of Mark Twain’s The Prince and the Pauper, except this time, it involves a baker who enters a baking competition in a kingdom where the reluctant fiancée to the crown prince looks exactly like her. They switch lives for a while and the baker, of course, falls for the crown prince. It’s a happy ending for the former fiancée too, who finds love in the baker’s business partner.
Why I love it: I’m always down for stories that involve doppelgangers having to learn an entire person’s life history to get away with something. And who doesn’t love a classic rags-to-riches love story.
A girl and a guy agree to being each other’s date for the holidays after much pressure from their family for still being single at their age. One holidate turns into many more, which slowly builds trust in these friends that will soon turn lovers, although they’re too scared to say anything, but one of them eventually breaks and confesses their love for the other. Luckily, he feels the same way too.
Why I love it: Have I fantasised about asking my guy best friend to be my holidate and maybe hopefully have him fall for me as much as I will fall for him? Hell yes. Do I have the courage to pursue this in real life? Of course not, so I’ll live vicariously through this movie, thank you.
Rich girl goes on a mission to deliver a letter before she’s allowed her inheritance. She meets a guy who’s right for her in all ways, but she’s engaged. Her fiancé shows up, proving to be arrogant and condescending – all the ways he’s wrong for her. She finally realises she deserves better and goes after the right guy.
Why I love it: Ah yes, falling for a guy while you’re engaged is never this rewarding in real life. It also boggles the mind how red flags in relationships can be easily overlooked when one is wearing rose-tinted glasses of ignorance.
She’s lost hope in finding her “happily ever after”. He’s a knight that’s travelled through time to prove his worth as a man. She thinks he’s off his rocker. He’s just falling in love with her.
Why I love it: Nothing about this movie needs to be set at Christmas time. It’s hilariously bad, yet endearingly wonderful to watch.
Conflicting worlds collide in this KFC and Lifetime collaboration – yes, the fast-food chicken place created their own cheesy Christmas movie starring Mario Lopez as the grey-haired colonel himself. A young heiress falls in love with the hired cook (the colonel), against her mother’s wishes who wants her to marry a rich family friend instead to pull their family out of debt. It’s full of random twists and turns but the colonel gets the girl in the end.
Why I love it: Is this KFC blowing their advertising budget or a genius marketing ploy? Whichever, it’s fun to watch a fast-food brand not take themselves too seriously and join in the festivities with their own take on a cheesy holiday movie.