There’s More to Those Hallmark Christmas Movies than Predictable Plots
They are the target of holiday memes and merchandising. The company aired its first Christmas movie in 2000. Since then, over 300 holiday movies have been produced. This year alone, Hallmark is releasing over 40 new Christmas movies. Hallmark usually begins their Christmas movie countdown in late October on the Hallmark channel and a few sister channels. The company even promotes a holiday movie checklist to keep track of movie premieres for their dedicated movie viewers.ost people have seen or at least heard about Hallmark Christmas movies at some point.
The movies are seemingly predictable. They are set in small, quaint towns that celebrate a sense of community. The plot usually involves a single female lead, who is sometimes a single parent, who faces a work dilemma. The female character might even have to return to their hometown where she runs into an ex from her past. The movies always feature a leading male who, of course, helps the leading lady solve her problems. Cue the falling snow and the happily ever after ending. Hallmark even hires the same actors and/or actresses to star in the different movies. So why the draw to these movies if they are practically the same thing over and over? Why does everyone like them so much?
To find out why so many people remain faithful viewers, I took to the internet to find some answers. I was surprised to learn there’s more to these predictable movies than what you see. There is science behind the habitual watching of holiday movies. According to some experts, there are health benefits of watching these movies. These movies can be mood boosting and actually help your mental health. They have been found to even lower blood pressure. Depression and anxiety spikes during the holidays. Although the movies might not be that great, they provide a temporary glimpse of optimism for some. T. Makana Chock, a researcher of Media Psychology at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Public Communications, stated, “There’s a lot of dopamine and oxytocin chemicals that gets released in watching these things…They can be very de-stressing. This chemical release makes you feel happier.” Chock also stated that these movies contain the common thread of family and community bonds in the storytelling that as humans we are hard-wired to crave (Washington Post). Hallmark movies’ predictability provides a level of comfort to many. This allows people to escape from the hustle and bustle of our wild lives, as explained by Psychology Today. The Hallmark Channel even aired Christmas movie marathons during 2020 in an effort to help beat the “pandemic blues”
I also posed the question to a group on Facebook called the Hallmark Christmas Movie Club which resulted in over 200 comments. Most people feel that the movies provide an escape from the day-to-day realities we all face. “For two hours people can just let go,” as one person commented. “Your brain gets to turn off.” Others commented that the predictable plots and guaranteed happy endings eased their anxiety. Most who commented agreed that it was nice to watch movies that feature a sense of community and connection when families and friends come together to help support each other. One commenter mentioned she was an only child, and she watched for the “family feeling”. Other comments I received mentioned how Hallmark movies embody the spirit of Christmas, helping others, and the beautiful Christmas scenery. A lot of commenters brought up the fact that Hallmark movies are family friendly, they don’t contain any curse words, violence, or inappropriateness. This Hallmark phenomenon doesn’t just apply to women either. Several women commented that their husbands look forward to watching Hallmark movies after a long week at work because it helped them unwind.
Hallmark movies can even be a way to connect with others. People often spend time together watching the movies. One comment that really touched my heart said, “I watched it last Christmas every night with my mom while she was under hospice care. It just gave us joy with the happy endings and beautiful scenery. For those two hours while watching, my mom and I were not thinking about her pending death and the sadness of the situation. I miss her terribly but am enjoying the movies this year and remembering sweet memories.”
Another commenter summed it up nicely: “For most of us real life is hard. We hear about every tragedy and crisis that occurs on our planet. And we suffer through our own. Hallmark movies are soft, glowing, and uplifting. They whisk us away from the harsh realities of life to worlds of cozy small towns, harvests and Christmas festivities, and families and couples that in the end resolve their minor conflicts and live happily ever after. Hallmark movies are basically modern-day fairytales.”
All these experts and faithful viewers can’t be wrong, so don’t be so quick to dismiss a Hallmark Christmas movie if you come across one while flipping through television channels. If you are struggling or just need a break from the daily stresses of life, give one of these movies a try. Let those happy chemicals be released and just relax!