What we learned from watching Hallmark holiday movies

I’m a romantic at heart. Some people may find this difficult to believe since I also come across as a curmudgeon. But, I enjoy romance. I am a fan of Valentine’s Day. In fact, I proposed to Lisa on Valentine’s Day (that’s a story for another day and maybe even an anti-Hallmark movie) and we were married on Valentine’s Day. The day, for me, is akin to Christmas in the gift-giving realm.

So, with that in mind, we’ve been watching a lot of Hallmark holiday movies. A lot! So much so that we recognize actors from one movie to another. Lisa has even noticed scenes from one movie appearing in another, just with different actors.

The joke about Hallmark movies is the company uses one or two writers to create three scripts in order to make 600 movies. That may not be too far off.

Stars of Hallmark love stories

Lacy Chabert (of “Party of Five fame) has appeared in the most Hallmark movies with more than 30 under her belt. Alicia Witt is another well-known actress with double-digit appearances. Others appearing in the most movies include Wes Brown, Andrew Walker and Luke McFarlane.

Watching the movies during the Christmas season, television viewers have been invited into the magical world that is Hallmark networks. With 24/7 showings of every Hallmark holiday/love story, viewers have had the opportunity for a few weeks (since late October, actually) to spend Christmas at a cozy inn, small town, or remote bed and breakfast. The thing about Hallmark movies is that each has a happy ending.


As we’ve watched these movies, a few things stand out:

  • Plots tend to involve a marketing genius or go-getter from New York City or Chicago (sometimes Los Angeles) who is sent to a tiny/charming/remote rural town, struggling to survive another holiday season.
  • The stars are facing a professional or personal crisis. Professionally, seal the deal (usually bad for the visited town or business) and get that blindly sought after promotion with a corner office. Personal values face a crossroads with their professional self. Which side will win out? Spoiler alert: Good always wins.
  • Protagonists are successful but morally struggling advertising/marketing executives, actors, or journalists.
  • The local potential love interest is a widower with a small child, a widow with a small child, a divorced father with a young child, a divorced mom with a small child, or a bachelor/Bachelorette/divorced person with no small child but unsure of love. Parents/siblings/friends worry the person will never find love again.
  • The local love interest typically owns a diner, bakery, inn, or automotive repair shop. Journalists/writers, of course, hide their true identity until it is leaked, creating trust issues with the love interest.
  • Businesses or homes face bankruptcy or foreclosure. But, thanks to an ingenious plan developed by a morally struggling character, happiness prevails.
  • Musical montages feature scenes of decorating trees, yards, Main Street, or preparing dinners.

Successful formula

Say what you will, the formula works for Hallmark. With multiple networks – Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies and Mysteries among them – the movies attract millions of viewers during the holiday season. Even networks, such as ABC, have aired their versions of the best Hallmark movies.

While they may not have the emotional tug-of-the-heart like the holiday card commercials tend to do, the movies are cute to watch. They’re probably pretty hokey, in the end. But, people – men and women, alike – enjoy watching them.

In our household, Lisa and I jokingly discuss the plots, purposely transposing one for another. Ultimately, we’re never far off.

While watching, when I start talking back to the TV about why would they do this or why didn’t they do that, Lisa simply says, “It’s Hallmark, dear.”

So now, our mantra when we observe a mind-boggling scene or silly line is “Hallmark.”

Hallmark movies will disappear for the year after Christmas Day and the networks will return to showing runs of “Golden Girls,” “Frasier,” “Monk” and a few original series. Heck, even some seasonal romantic movies will air.

Whatever your take on Hallmark and its movies, they’re fun to watch for a short time. Now, I need to get back to “Christmas at Mistletoe Inn” or is it “Christmas at Cozy Inn?” No matter, it’s the one with Alicia Witt. Or is that Autumn Reeser?

Happy Hallmark Holidays, everyone.