“I like shopping, and I like to drive.”
The Genius of Hallmark
The first question would be: why would anyone watch Hallmark?
Well, you are promised a happy ending. Some days it can be too much to watch the conflict of a sports event or the embarrassment of a situation comedy or the 99% failure rate of talent shows. Those shows add stress on some level or puts depression on top of depression. With Hallmark, you know that it will all be okay.
The plot lines are pretty safe.
Judy, a world-famous chef lives in the big city and is so successful and busy that she never has time to date. She finds out that her father just died and that she must return to her small home town to inherit half of a house, a tulip farm and a winery that has been in the family for generations. On the way there, she gets in a car accident and gets amnesia. Luke, her high-school sweetheart finds her and takes care of her and says that he knows her but not that they were sweethearts. Luke’s wife died two years ago and he has a daughter. He owns a small cupcake store but is facing competition from a start-up that makes cupcakes with jalapenos and stuff. He must win the big contest that will be judged by a prince from Blatalvania by a long tradition. Judy uses her chef skills to make Luke’s contest entry. The prince falls in love with Judy and wants to make her a princess but she gets her memory back and discovers that she loves Luke and wants to give up the chef life to live in the small town happily ever after. They win the contest, save the store and kiss: then fade to credits.
Every story must have some conflict in it. Hallmark saves that to the very last. The bulk of the show is the couple falling in love. I like to shout “kiss him!” when they first meet.
The conflict is easily resolved.
She: I saw you dancing with a girl at the big hoe-down jamboree.
He: That was my old friend, the mayor’s wife.
She: Oh, okay. Let’s kiss and fade to credits.
The genius of Hallmark is how seamlessly they move from season to season. These love stories must fit into a seasonal bracket. They introduce the Thanksgiving stories and, at the same time, begin previewing the Christmas ones. Then they start showing Christmas ones but then have a top ten countdown of the Thanksgiving ones to visit again as a favorite. Christmas blends into Valentines into Spring (where they have cute baby ducks and rabbits in the ads). It is incredible! The ducks are adorable!
And then you get your favorite actors. Lacey Chabert, the Mean Girl who said it was so fetch, is an all-star. She is really good and is in dozens of these movies. Sometimes you get actors or actresses who have done seasons if not decades of soap operas.
The big down-side to the Hallmark channel is that it all ends at 10pm. Then comes the unwatchable Golden Girls reruns, a horrible old show with a mistimed laugh track.
Roger Ebert said that the first criteria of a rom-com is that you have to root for the people. They have to be likable and you want them to win. Not all actresses on Hallmark can dial that up and if so, change the channel.