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The student news site of Carlisle High School

Periscope

The student news site of Carlisle High School

Periscope

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Odessa Cruz
Odessa Cruz
Staff Writer

Making Spirits Bright: Hallmark Spreads Holiday Cheer One Movie at a Time (Editorial)

HOLIDAY+CHEER%3A+The+two+main+characters+from+Hallmarks+2015+movie%2C+12+Gifts+of+Christmas%2C+grow+closer+together+through+ice+skating.+
Hannah Stoner
HOLIDAY CHEER: The two main characters from Hallmark’s 2015 movie, 12 Gifts of Christmas, grow closer together through ice skating.

Snow is coming down, you’re curled up on the couch in cozy winter pjs, hot cocoa in hand, and the fireplace is crackling. Undecided on what to watch, you turn on the TV in hopes of finding something festive. You scroll through the channels provided, until the remote stumbles upon the most notorious holiday channel, Hallmark. Not originally what you were hoping for, but surprisingly it entertains you more than you would have thought. 

Although their movies are known for having a similarly laid out plot, it is a plot that works. A plot that year after year, draws in more viewers than their competitor channels like Lifetime, UPTV, and newest competitor Great American Family, even after they’ve seen a drop in ratings themselves. CNBC notes that last December’s Hallmark Channel views dropped 40% from five years ago. Even with this drop, they are still on top of the holiday movie market. Their higher ratings compared to competitors could be due to their higher production value leading to a stronger quality within acting, music, and conveying the Christmas or holiday spirit. About $2 million goes into making the films in which most are shot in Canada in only two-three weeks. Hallmark Christmas movies rake in about $350 million from ad revenue each year. 

This year, the channel’s Countdown to Christmas started on October 20, and is set to have released 40 new original holiday-themed movies. Thirty-one of those will be released as main channel films and the other nine will air as part of Hallmark Movies and Mysteries, Miracles of Christmas. Not only are the movies available through the cable channels, but Hallmark has their very own streaming service called Hallmark Movies Now and last year made a deal with Peacock in which certain films can be found on the NBC owned platform. 

For me, I grew up watching these films every Christmastime with my mother, and we know that the storylines are the same, but can’t help but cherish these movies. We look forward to them. Not because they have phenomenal writing, but because of their depiction of the holidays. Without these movies playing on our household TV, it feels like something is missing from the usual holiday excitement. 

Watching the main characters navigate the season through various holiday activities like going caroling, baking cookies, and impromptu snowball fights evokes a sense of holiday nostalgia. These scenes force the watcher to get off their couch when the credits roll and participate in the activities themselves. 

They also allow me to enjoy the simpler aspects of the holidays. These movies allow me to catch a glimpse of the parts of the season I might miss out on and the different traditions other cultures or families partake in. As someone who celebrates Christmas, I still enjoy the Hanukkah movies that Hallmark releases, getting to learn more about a holiday I don’t celebrate. One movie this year was Hanukkah themed, making it the sixth film on the channel to include the Jewish holiday.

In the last couple of years, Hallmark has started releasing more and more films each year, along with the increase in films has been an increase in the diverse casts. Hallmark has been flagged for its lack of diversity in the past, but since the former Hallmark Media CEO Bill Abbott resigned in 2020 and was replaced with Wonya Lucas, the diversity within the films has increased representing members of the LGBTQ community with both side and main plot lines. The company will undergo a new change in leadership once again at the end of 2023 as Lucas is leaving her role as CEO.

Some people view Hallmark as a sappy love fest, but sometimes the center of the film isn’t necessarily about romantic love. They can have deeper meanings of grief and loss. As my mother and I watch these films, we’ve noticed that they tend to show the lighthearted films on their main channel and the more hard hitting and emotional stories that tug on our heartstrings either on Hallmark Movies and Mysteries.

As mentioned earlier, they are known for having the same plot, obviously they aren’t all exactly the same, but they can be cracked down to the same basic formula. Girl and guy meet (sometimes it’s a reconnection) and they fall head over heels in love as they embark on a holiday journey together. Oftentimes they run into a familiar holiday figure, Santa. At the end, they seal their love with a kiss. Something else my mom and I have taken note of within the plot, is the timeframe of an argument between the main characters, to set up the climax. It’s normal for it to hit towards the end of a film or novel, but with the Hallmark movies, a majority of them hit at the same time stamp: 30-45 minutes before the end of the film. 

Magic is in the air during the holidays, and some of that magic has found its way to Hallmark movies. Compared to their movies that come out during the rest of the year, their Christmas flicks do the best. Something just feels off about their other seasonal films in spring and summer. 

The writing of these films typically comes from a group of writers. My mom and I joke about writing a film for them, but it is unlikely they’d pick it up because of their specific team. Sometimes they will adapt a book, for example, Debbie Macomber’s Mrs. Miracle, into a film. In recent years, they have also been featuring more mainstream music, and titling movies based off of them like “Five More Minutes” by country singer Scotty McCreary. 

From my experience watching these films year after year, I’ve noticed that some of the newer ones fall flat. They just don’t have the same holiday vibe from a few years ago. It’s normal for a couple misses though and some of the newer ones are particularly enjoyable, becoming my mom and I’s new favorites. One movie that came out this year we appreciated was Catch Me If you Clause. Also, since the switch in CEOs was a change in movie premises, making them feel less traditional for the channel, like Three Wise Men and a Baby, a spoof on Three Men and a Baby, which does not focus on romance, but brotherly love. 

The stars of the films may not be A-list celebrities, but there are several recognizable faces on Hallmark. Queen of Christmas music, Mariah Carey appeared as an antagonist in a movie a couple of years ago. It is safe to say the singer should stick to music. Several former child stars migrated to these made-for-TV movies, most notable was Candace Cameron Bure who played DJ Tanner on Full House. Bure recently left Hallmark and has begun acting for competitor GAF, which former CEO Abbott played a part in forming. Other stars made the transition to the rival network as well, while others assured they weren’t going anywhere. 

Typically re-watching our favorites, every year we scour the TV’s guide to figure out when they’ll come on as well as looking out for our favorite actors and actresses new releases. Our favorite people to watch on the Hallmark screen are Lacey Chabert, Luke Macfarlane, Kristoffer Polaha, and Nikki DeLoach. The movies that have captivated us the most and we annually ensure we have time to watch are Mistletoe Promise, Christmas Under Wraps, A Boyfriend for Christmas, The Most Wonderful Time of the Year, A Very Merry Mix Up, Matchmaker Santa, Snow Bride, Angel of Christmas, and Naughty or Nice.

Cheesy as they are, Hallmark Christmas movies make the holidays an even brighter time of the year. Entwined throughout them are themes of love, strength in hard times, hard work towards success, and family. These films may not be blockbuster hits like Elf and Home Alone, but they bring just as much holiday cheer and festiveness, appropriate for the whole family. 

Disclaimer: Articles designated as “Editorial” represent the views and opinions of the author, not the 2023-2024 Periscope staff, CHS/CASD administration, or the CHS student body.

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About the Contributor
Hannah Stoner, Editor-in-Chief
Hannah Stoner is a senior at Carlisle High School. She is excited and proud to be returning to the Periscope staff for her fourth year as journalism has always interested her. She enjoys reading, writing, watching TV, solving puzzles and spending time with her family. She also plays on the school's field hockey team.
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