What Is It About Hallmark Channel Christmas Movies That Attract 70 Million Viewers?

Published: Friday, December 22, 2017 - 3:00pm
Updated: Friday, December 22, 2017 - 3:08pm
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This year the Hallmark Channel began airing its lineup of 21 new Christmas movies in October.

With titles like "Christmas Getaway," "Christmas Connection" and "A Christmas Next Door," they’ve become a ratings gold mine for the cable channel.

But what is it about these films that has them attracting more than 70 million viewers?

“It just feels good to watch those movies where you know everything’s going to work out OK," said Julianna Miner, George Mason University professor of public health. She’s a fan of Hallmark Christmas movies and even is one of those dedicated online fans.

“Yeah, we have a Facebook page that’s called, 'Is this Hallmark movie good for a Hallmark movie?" Miner said.

While she enjoys the movies, she says they follow a familiar formula.

“Sometimes the plot is around a single mom who needs to find love, and sometimes it’s about a single woman who has to re-evaluate her priorities so that they better reflect the Christmas spirit and small-town values," Miner said.

It’s a formula that was ripe for a "Saturday Night Live" parody.

“Christmas is almost here and on the Hallmark Channel we won’t let you forget it with our "Countdown to Christmas." You’ll be asking, wait how do I know that actor? All filmed during one month in Ottawa. Can you spot the sets we used multiple times? Hint, hint, the gazebo," Miner said.

However, the homogeneity of these movies, with their lack of diversity and settings in perfect small towns, is what reporter Zac Jason, in an article for Slate, says, is problematic.

“Hallmark has responded by doubling down on this bastion of whiteness where small towns aren’t beset with problems from the Great Recession, all the small businesses are doing great in Hallmark land," Jason said.

Jason asked the network why the movies had mainly white actors: “They said they were committed to diversity. But, I asked them about diversifying Christmas movies and they have no concrete plans that they announced."

Jason buckled down and watched all 21 of this year’s crop of movies.

“There is a feel-good campy magnetism to them that’s in a way — being trapped in six ounces of goo, hopeless to escape. But, at the same time, I’m delirious from the coziness," Jason said.

So, if you’re looking to celebrate the holiday in a picturesque small town, covered in a blanket of white snow with plenty of gingerbread, cocoa and good feelings. There’s probably a movie for you.

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