Watching a Hallmark movie is like eating your mom’s homemade chocolate chip cookies on a snowy day. You know the experience will be gentle, warm and comforting, with no surprises. (No raisins or candied cherries in these cookies, please.) That’s because the producers know how to play with their audience.
The plot of Hallmark movies has become a running joke: in a typical movie, a sophisticated city girl finds herself in a charming little town shortly before Christmas. There, she meets a handsome local man: perhaps a bakery owner, a lumberjack or an architect. At first, the two can’t agree, but as the film progresses, they discover they have more in common than they thought. In the end credits, they kiss under the mistletoe.
The one thing you won’t see, at least not much, is a range of cultures and identities. The network caters to its target demographic, so the BIPOC and LGBTQ+ community are underrepresented in films. An unnamed producer told Vancouver Magazine, “The formula isn’t said. If you want to do something more diverse, you don’t bring that one to Hallmark.” Still, the company is taking small steps toward inclusion. In 2020 they released “The Christmas House,” a film about a married gay couple (via WSIS), and in 2021 the Christmas lineup included such titles as “A Holiday in Harlem” and “Eight Gifts of Hanukkah.” . We can only hope for continued inclusion in future holiday seasons.