LLL 010: “Your Christmas wish is my panic, anxiety, and insomnia.”
MORE carousels, MORE royalty, and MORE Hollywood celebs.
Merry Christmas to those who celebrate and happy December 25th to those who don’t!
We have officially come to the END of the Leading Lady of Lifetime newsletter (V SAD). I have now watched 73 made-for-TV holiday movies — that’s ALL of the 2020 offerings from Lifetime, Hallmark, and, of course, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. Except for ONE, that is, which airs TONIGHT AT 8PM (RUDE), after which I’ll leave a review on my Instagram. (I’m sending this newsletter right now WITHOUT the last movie because I figure this is a better read at the START of Christmas vs. the end.)
You might be wondering what I learned throughout this whole ~experience,~ and I’m gonna tell ya! Here are a few of the biggest lessons I’ve taken away from these two months of cOnTeNt:
You NEVER know what could happen at Christmas!
Prioritizing a few-week relationship is ALMOST always more important than achieving life-long career goals.
You can 100% fall in love with someone without going on any dates ever or even kissing.
A year-round Christmas store is a WORTHY venture.
Conflicts will ALWAYS be resolved in under two hours.
Carousels, merry-go-rounds, keys, charm bracelets, and coins are all pOwErFuL aphrodisiacs.
You might be SECRETLY ~in love~ with your high school best friend/ex/crush/arch-nemesis.
All men in New York work in FINANCE. (Most women do, too.)
When you make a WISH on a Christmas tree, *wishing horse,* or submit one to your local Project Christmas Wish, it WILL come true (unless it’s to stop your family from moving out of town for work).
Your parents WILL understand if you don’t continue working in the family biz of hardware sales/veterinary care/carousel restoration/local politics.
That person who was MEAN to you is actually WONDERFUL (once they realize they want to bone you).
Celebs from the ‘90s and ‘00s make the BEST heroines.
Lifetime, Hallmark, and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries audiences are apparently more receptive to queer men than they are queer women. (More queer romances in 2021!)
These producers only care a LITTLE about representation in general, and even LESS about holidays that aren’t Christmas (or Christian).
The bottom ~festive~ line is that I’ve TRULY enjoyed this ride with you all, and I APPRECIATE everyone who’s subscribed and read each issue. Happy holidays, and stay tuned to my IG for MORE CONTENT LIKE THIS — and more takeaways from this important jOuRnEy.
Until next time,
Your Leading Lady of Lifetime, Sarah
1. Christmas on the Menu (Lifetime) 🥧
Quick ‘n dirty thoughts ‘n feels: Lifetime LOVES movies about chefs and food critics, if this movie + Love, Lights, Hanukkah are any indication. Josie is a CHEF known for her v LA (gluten-free, vegan, gross, etc.) pastries, but her ROOTS are in COMFORT FOOD. She’s trying out a dessert recipe for her mom’s new bistro at their family’s B&B (is that the same as an inn?) and TANNER RHODES, a critic who previously gave her a BAD review, shows up. Tanner LOVES the red velvet cheesecake pie she’s working on, so he books a weekend at the B&B to… it’s unclear? It’s partially to learn the secret ingredient and partially because he finds Josie ENDEARING even though they’ve only had negative interactions? IDK. Anyway, we head to BIG BEAR for a weekend of critics, food sampling, and LOVE (but not without incident) between Josie and Tanner — which is a HUGE conflict of interest, right? This movie was decent!
Rating: 2.75 out of 4 🥧
2. Christmas Carousel (Hallmark) 🎠
Quick ‘n dirty thoughts ‘n feels: ANOTHER FRIGGIN’ CAROUSEL. This movie was… meh? Lila is a part-time art teacher/part-time carousel restorer with her dad (okay). She’s not sure if she wants to go for a PROGRAM DIRECTOR role at her school or go full time with her dad. Lila and her dad are invited to made-up European country 29012339 to restore a carousel (one that the dad’s grandfather inexplicably built) for the king’s granddaughter. Naturally, Lila falls in love with Prince Whitaker as they connect over ART. (He dresses like a Clip Art painter when he’s in ~art mode.~) Lila helps the prince realize he can BE HIMSELF while leading, and the king finally comes around to accepting him as he is (informal, etc.). Lila and her dad end up staying in the made-up European country because the prince gives them both jobs: Lila as program director at the art school he’s building, and dad as full-time carousel restorer (okay). Everyone’s happy — even the dad because he gets FRIENDLY with someone who works at the castle. But they don’t really talk at all about Lila becoming queen?
Rating: 2 out of 4 🎠
3. Swept Up by Christmas (Hallmark Movies & Mysteries) 🌟
Quick ‘n dirty thoughts ‘n feels: This one was really a sLoG to get through, mostly because there was so much MEANING and not enough LEVITY. Gwen is an ANTIQUE DEALER who’s interested in buying out the company she works for when her boss retires. Reed is the co-founder of Dirt Force One, a ~BRILLIANTLY~ named cleaning crew of veterans. They’re both hired to get an old estate from Gwen’s youth ready for selling — but, at first, they’re not into working together because it wasn’t a POSITIVE experience the last time. THIS time, THEY FALL IN LOVE, and the owner of the estate helps Gwen get the WINNING BID for her company. Reed was gonna move so he could launch a second location of his BIZ, but he decides NOT TO because of LOVE. This really has ZERO of the ingredients I look for in a hOlIdAy RoMaNcE. Also, the title… blech.
Rating: 1.5 out of 4 🌟
4. A Christmas Break (Lifetime) 🚌
Quick ‘n dirty thoughts ‘n feels: This was almost the EXACT SAME MOVIE as Spotlight on Christmas, only the genders are swapped, the school is running out of money, and the characters are less endearing. Addy is a PRINCIPAL at a middle school and Dylan is an ACTOR on the brink of becoming a has-been. They went to school together and ALMOST dated, but Dylan left for Juilliard (sure) without saying goodbye because he was TOO SCARED he wouldn’t actually leave. The middle school is about to close AFTER CHRISTMAS BREAK (it seems v unlikely anyone would do that in the middle of a school year, but dRaMa, am I right?) because there’s no more money, so Addy calls Dylan’s manager to see if he’ll direct their play for publicity + donations. He agrees, they reconnect and fall in love, and a viral video of Addy talking to the school board SAVES THE DAY. This movie was fine, but the cHeMiStRy was lacking for me. Also, if you watched “Degrassi,” it’s VERY IMPORTANT to know that Mr. Simpson is in this.
Rating: 2.25 out of 4 🚌
5. Project Christmas Wish (Hallmark Movies & Mysteries) 🐴
Quick ‘n dirty thoughts ‘n feels: I really liked this one!! I think that’s mostly because THE STAR is from Center Stage, one of the most ICONIC films of the early aughts. Lucy works at a home store with her bestie but ALSO runs Project Christmas Wish, which is essentially Make-A-Wish but make it Christmas (and not exclusive to people who are sick). A little girl wishes that she and her dad, Lucas, can celebrate Christmas LIKE THEY USED TO when her mom was alive. Lucy’s dad died when she was little, so she connects with the little girl and wants to make her Christmas EXTRA SPECIAL. As she helps the fam get into the ~Christmas spirit,~ she and Lucas, duh, fall in love. What’s UNUSUAL for Hallmark (Movies & Mysteries), though, is that the conflict isn’t some manufactured BS like a misinterpreted overheard phone convo — it’s actually Lucas feeling unsure about being ready to date again. Also, it’s FUNNY IN PARTS. ACTUALLY FUNNY. The wide range in quality of these movies is TRULY REMARKABLE.
Rating: 3.25 out of 4 🐴
6. The Christmas High Note (Lifetime) 🎵
Quick ‘n dirty thoughts ‘n feels: This one is a perfect example of how BAD these channels are at naming movies… or maybe really GOOD if you like literal AF. Anyway, there’s a ~Christmas high note~ to be sung and Rachel, a singing teacher and part-time helper at her dad’s vet, works with a teenage girl to get her voice ready for a Christmas pageant solo. She also, BELIEVE IT OR NOT, falls in love with the dad, Michael. You’d think their relationship would just CRESCENDO from there, but NO — Rachel’s goofy/terrible ex shows up to try to win her back (but it’s only to serve his own ulterior motives). This momentarily puts a FERMATA on their relationship, but they reconcile after Rachel forces everyone at the Christmas pageant to listen to her SPEECH about LOVE. No one was particularly good at singing in this movie, though, which was upsetting.
Rating: 1.75 out of 4 🎵
7. Christmas at the Castle (Lifetime) 👃
Quick ‘n dirty thoughts ‘n feels: This was, objectively, a VERY BAD movie. It’s the cinematic equivalent of scrapple: They assembled the WORST bits and pieces of all the movies and threw in some of the worst actors, too! Blaire is a sales manager for a LEADING perfume company in New York with an evil boss. She’s about to lose her job because sales are terrible, but then she encounters a SANTA on the street and soon after finds a PRESENT at her door: a perfect perfume from Scotland. Blaire tells her boss and then is sent to go license the formula for her company and meets the EARL, Alistair, whose mom created the scent/all their scents. They, of course, fall in love, and Blaire ends up creating her own scent and selling it to a company. We never exactly learn if the Santa on the street was behind the perfume delivery and if he was, in fact, THE REAL SANTA. Also, all of the “Scottish” people in Alistair’s family inexplicably have English accents (not sure if this is because no one can do a good Scottish accent or because English accents are a bit easier to understand for unfamiliar ears?). ALSO ALSO, these two actors are HORRIBLE and have ZERO chemistry. Truly awful movie.
Rating: 1 out of 4 👃
The Last Line
The more of these movies I watched, the more I came to realize that there weren’t just OVERARCHING formulas — but the SMOLLER pieces of each movie were also HEAVILY repeated. It’s like the producers of these movies guessed a shit ton of lottery numbers featuring the same six numbers in various combinations. Most of them will be DUDS, but maybe JUST MAYBE, one will be a winner. And we did have some… kind of winners! Some were okay! Some were even kind of better than okay! The moral of the story is that the more you throw at a WALL, the more will STICK. If you shoot for the MOON, even if you MISS, you’ll land among the STARS. Or something. Anyway, valiant effort (sometimes), Lifetime, Hallmark, and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries.
The most common tropes of these seven movies:
Relationships with rOyAlTy (x2)
“You’re telling me… Santa’s real?” (x2)
“Do this by [holiday] OR ELSE!” (x2)
🎶 Kiss me, it’s beginning to snow 🎶 (x2)
Representation in these seven movies (really horrible):
0/7 movies had a lead character who was a person of color.
0/7 had a lead character who was LGBTQ+.
0/7 had a lead character who was bigger than a size 2.
0/7 had a lead character who was differently-abled.
0/7 centered on a holiday other than Christmas.
The actual last line: HAPPY HOLIDAYS! 🎁 💫 🎉 See you… soon?
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