Hooked on Hallmark!

“It’s not the place that’s important. It’s the people. It’s the memories that make a place truly special.”

“Most things in life that seem complicated are really pretty simple if you give them a hard look.”

“In your heart, you’ll know what’s best.”

Love always trumps high-power career. Small town, family and slow, simple, ‘in the moment’ existence always wins out over fast-paced, ‘big city’ living. Beautiful people always wind up together. And the only confusing thing is which role Lacy Chabert (formerly of Party of Five and Wild Thornberries fame) and Danika Keller (who you might remember as young Winnie Cooper from Wonder Years) are going to play, and opposite which gorgeous male costar.

Welcome to the world of Hallmark movies. They’re predictable. They’re formulaic. They’re not always that original. But they are simple, non-violent and easy-to-watch. And they are, without a doubt, one of my ‘great escapes’ from the perils of our modern world. I’m definitely hooked, as my family can attest.

Hallmark movies and series always take place in settings whose beauty rivals the characters. Vermont, Alaska, any small-town USA. And the main characters always come to realize the wholesome Hallmark truths outlined above.

Here’s a typical plot (male and female roles – progressively – interchangeable):

  • Boy meets girl
  • Boy lives the simple life in a small hometown (usually having spurned big career and city life to get ‘back to basics’ and happiness) and is, like most Hallmark ‘good guys’, exceptionally sensitive
  • Girl has obnoxious, shallow, ‘corporate’-type boyfriend whose clearly not right for her, and is only in the ‘small town’ briefly before returning to her more ‘exciting’ lifestyle
  • Boy and girl don’t like each other at all (for first half-hour to 45 minutes)
  • Girl and boy warm up to each other (around 45 minutes till 1-1/2 hours in)
  • At about 20 minutes before the end of the movie, boy and girl have a major conflict and break up (almost always due to a misunderstanding or the girl moving back away, clearly not catching on to the Hallmark values)
  • And … with just about 5-10 minutes left, boy and girl get together – choosing, always, the heart-driven life of the Heartland (though sometimes they follow true love to other parts of the world too, even with British princes)

There’s never any ‘romance’ beyond a chaste kiss. There’s always fairly cheesy music (I’ll admit it) and even Saturday Night Live has spoofed Hallmark for its lack of diversity … which I, unfortunately, agree with. The only non-white and non-Christian characters are always (usually really small) supporting ‘BFF’ (best friend forever) roles. (I was heartened to see, though, a new Hallmark reality series that doesn’t seem half-bad called Meet the Peetes about former NFL football player Rodney Peete, and his family, all African Americans.)

In any case, Hallmark is definitely my ‘go-to’ happy TV time. I’ve come to know and love – maybe too well? – so many actors, characters, plots and scenes. (Paul Greene is one of my personal favorites of the men and among the females, it’s also fun to see all-grown up Candace Cameron Bure from 1980s sitcom Full House.) And if the ‘hallmark’ of the Hallmark channel is to provide a happy ending – and a fun journey getting there – along with some positive messages about life and love, they’ve got it down and I’m down with that!

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