Greetings everyone, and happy December! I hope you’re enjoying time with friends and family, hot cocoa, Christmas music, or whatever else warms your cold, dead hearts this time of year.
I also hope that you’re watching some Hallmark Christmas Movies! Personally, I love them. Yes, I know they’re terrible. I know they’re predictable. I’m a highly intelligent woman after all—I know these aren’t Oscar-worthy or thought-provoking pieces of cinema. However, perhaps because of their unchallenging nature, I enjoy having them on in the background during the Christmas season as I putter around or do the 5,000 things that need to be done this time of year.
My favorite one is several years old now, and it’s called The Nine Lives of Christmas. It involves vaguely magical cats and firefighters, and if that’s not a recipe for greatness, I’m sure I don’t know what is. The world would be a better place with more magical cats AND more hot firemen. It just would.
So, in these dark times, settle in and watch your heartwarming holiday fun without shame. Election season is coming quickly, we all need to absorb all the frivolity and happiness we can to survive 2020.
Grab a candy cane and some hot cocoa, get your Hallmark Movie-Watching socks on, and settle in—we’re about to discover the True Meaning of Christmas (TM).
Ohio State - The Nine Lives of Christmas (#1)
First Place Votes: 13 High: 1 Low: 1 Last Week: 1
Much as I hate to give this cinematic classic to a vile menace like Ohio State, I have no choice. Because, you see, it is the best. Two people, one of whom is a very attractive fireman, are brought together because of their vaguely magical cats who know they are perfect for each other. Here are the reasons this is the best Hallmark film:
- It’s from 2014, so it’s from when Hallmark was willing to be slightly less formulaic and a bit more whimsical.
- The male lead is a cat person (or becomes one). Do you know how unusual it is to see positive portrayals of cat people, let alone cat men?
- It’s actually pretty funny—most Hallmark films are many things, but humorous isn’t one of them.
- Cats. And. Firemen.
- The “not right for him” girlfriend is an unapologetic bitch and it’s so much fun. In later Hallmark films, the imperfect match is fine, just not ideal (see #4 on this poll). It is so much more awesome to have an actual villain.
Now, it’s not perfect. During one scene, the female lead discusses her love for various shades of white paint (really). But it’s pretty damn close to frivolous holiday perfection.
Anyway, Ohio State is pretty damn close to perfection too. They’re still boring to talk about, more boring even than various shades of white paint, which is why most of this entry was devoted to magical cats instead.
Wisconsin - Suspiciously Cheerful Townspeople (#2)
H: 2 L: 2 LW: 5
Bear with me here—I know as well as you do that Wisconsin fans tend to not be brightly smiling, slender, beautiful happy people. But this is a Hallmark Christmas Movie poll, and drunken, profane, perpetual frat boys do not exist in Hallmarkland, so I had to make some adjustments—though I have to admit that a cadre of Badger fans would certainly enliven Hot Chocolate Love Story in Christmasville.
Nevertheless, the Wisconsin hordes do share certain characteristics with the bland, omnipresent townspeople providing passing conversation and friendly welcome to our soon-to-be-lovestruck main characters. Like the townspeople, Wisconsin is kind of just always there, no matter how much they grate on your nerves—especially if we’re talking about the CCG, where the Badgers are making their sixth appearance. Unfortunately for them, they’ll likely just have to smile merrily and bear it this Saturday, as OSU will be looking to steal Christmas cheer from Bucky like a corporate hotel chain buying up a charmingly Christmassy mom-and-pop ski lodge and stripping it of its very soul.
Penn State - Precocious But Annoying Child (#3)
H: 3 L: 5 LW: 2
Children are a frequent factor in Hallmark Christmas movies, especially because the leads tend to be older than the typical Hollywood blockbuster (I actually appreciate this about them—people besides beautiful, thin 26-year-olds are worthy of love, even if Hallmark only expands this truth to beautiful, thin 35-year-olds.) Consequently, one or both of the leads is often a single parent.
The child is usually the mechanism that brings the happy couple together, as the main character parent discovers that their love interest is amazing with kids and super good at pretending the crappy paper ornament they made doesn’t suck! Ostensibly, we’re supposed to be charmed by the whippersnapper, but you know what? Usually they’re pretty annoying. No, Jackson, the world will not, in fact, end if the temporary nanny you met five days ago who is now madly in love with your father, the charming town carpenter, isn’t able to make the pageant to see your star turn as Palm Tree #3.
Like this child, Penn State fans and arguably their coach believe that the world revolves around them, and express disbelief whenever others are not as enchanted by them as they think they should be.
Michigan - The Boyfriend/Girlfriend That is CLEARLY Wrong for the Main Character (#4)
H: 4 L: 6 LW: 4
While some Hallmark movies feature two leads who are single when they meet each other, a not insubstantial number have a lead who is already in a relationship. It ain’t no big thing, because Hallmark makes it clear to us that while the Wrong Person might be a perfectly acceptable human, they are just NOT right for our hero/heroine and so it’s ok for them to fall in love with someone else. Flaws in the rejects frequently include working too much, not having a sense of humor, or not liking Christmas. Boring and unsuitable as they may be, our lead character is SURE they are the one for them — at least until they meet their real soulmate. But everyone else knows they are obviously wrong for them.
Michigan thought they’d found their soulmate in Jim Harbaugh. He was a Michigan Man, and Perfect on Paper. He’s done a respectable job, but something is just... off. Namely, he can’t beat OSU, which is at least as big of a sin as not loving Christmas. It seems like he might never be the person that Michigan needs...but who is their REAL soulmate, if not Jim?
In Hallmark movies, the jettisoning of The Not Quite the One is always accomplished with zero drama and maximum grace by all parties. If Michigan and Harbaugh break up, will it be quite that drama-free?
Minnesota - Candace Cameron Bure (#5)
H: 3 L: 7 LW: 3
Undeniably the Queen of Hallmark, Candace Cameron Bure is probably best known for her turn as eldest daughter DJ Tanner on Full House. Cameron Bure has been in nine (by my count) Hallmark Christmas movies, her ever-youthful visage finding Christmas love year after year. She also frequently “hosts” Countdown to Christmas, which seems to involve filming short commercials for Hallmark Christmas films that air during Hallmark Christmas films.
She’s also SUPER peppy. Unsettlingly so. She seems pleasant enough, but also like... take it down a notch or five, Candace. DJ, like PJ, seems to be amped all the time, and constantly promising that the current lineup is elite. Nevertheless, while it’s satisfying in its way, it’s maybe less impressive than she seems to think, and every once in awhile, a real lemon—like a Wisconsin-Minnesota 2019 or A Shoe Addict’s Christmas—finds its way into the mix.
Indiana - Tragic Backstory (#6)
H: 6 L: 8 LW: 8
There is a surprising amount of death in Hallmark movies. It’s always off-screen and in the past, but it brings scars with it to the present, like making a handsome widower afraid to love again or making a woman cry every time she sees green ornaments because they were her dead mother’s favorite. And hey, this is fair—grief is real, and the holidays can be very hard for the bereaved. However, in Hallmark’s case, it’s also a really lazy way to try to add some emotional depth to very shallow stories, so I think the mockery is fair here.
Indiana too has its own tragic backstory—it hasn’t beaten Ohio State or Michigan since the Stone Age, and reading Candystripes’ lamentations about hopes raised and then cruelly dashed makes it clear that this particular backstory has caused a lot of scars.
However! Hope for the Hoosiers—in Hallmarkland, this tragic backstory always paves the way for an especially happy ending and a renewed love of love, Christmas, or green ornaments. Indiana this year has already started making steps toward a happy ending—a ranking, a win over Purdue, a bowl game—but will the ghosts of Christmases past haunt Indiana’s present and keep them from following their hearts to a bowl win?
Michigan State - A Very Specific and Probably Untenable Family Business (#7)
H: 7 L: 10 LW: 9
One common trope of Hallmark movies is the “endangered family business”—either the male or female lead will be fighting to save it, and be brought together with their future beloved, who is trying to destroy it via corporate takeover. Corporations, you see, are very interested in candy cane factories which employ about forty people.
These businesses dominate their festively-named towns, and are always incredibly niche. The aforementioned candy cane factory, a “kringle” producer, a toy factory in a remote town in northern Alaska (you know what that’s about), a wreath business... you get the idea.
The problem is, being incredibly niche and stubbornly resistant to modernizing or expanding the business model doesn’t work all that well in the real world. Mark Dantonio and his offensive staff exemplify this same stubbornness, only in their factory they’re producing inept offenses, not tasty family-recipe cookies. It’s a product that no one is buying, and they don’t seem to have cottoned onto this reality quite yet.
Purdue - Cookie Baking Scene (#8)
H: 7 L: 11 LW: 10
There is a cookie baking scene in every last one of these things. Every. Single. One. Perhaps the reason I’m single is because I don’t put myself in enough situations where I can flirtatiously fling flour at some guy, or get a cute dab of frosting on my nose. Because if Hallmark is to be believed, this is an essential step in creating a lasting love.
There’s a problem with the cookie baking scene though. While it sounds great in theory—because hey, who doesn’t love cookies?—it’s considerably less compelling as an activity you just watch with no real reward at the end. If Willy Wonka’s Wonkavision TV actually worked and we could reach through the screen and grab some cookies, there might be some redeeming quality to this. But as it is, it’s kind of a disappointing waste of screen time.
That’s sort of the flavor of Purdue football this year too—there were high hopes after a reasonably successful season and the Jeff Brohm Sweepstakes. But thanks to injuries, this season felt like marking time for the Boilermakers.
Illinois - Old Guy in Town Who Might Be the Real Santa! (#9)
H: 8 L: 12 LW: 7
I mean, you know where this is going, right? Obviously, Lovie might be the real Santa, because that beard is too magnificent to be a coincidence.
However, if he’s the real Santa, he’s still got some tricks to learn about granting wishes after that last game against Northwestern. Either that, or Thump needs to look more like a cute Hallmark leading lady when he closes his eyes and makes an Illini-related wish in an enchanted Christmas tree lot next time.
Nebraska - Faded Star of the 90s/00s (#10)
H: 9 L: 11 LW: 11
There are three kinds of leads in Hallmark movies: blandly handsome men, interchangable blonde women, and people who were big in the 1990s and 2000s. Seriously, if you watch many of these, you will recognize many of the stars. We’ve already mentioned Candace Cameron Bure, but Lacey Chabert (“none for Gretchen Weiners, bye.”) and Danica McKeller are other anchoring actresses of the Countdown to Christmas. Kristin Davis has done one, as have Dolly Parton and James Vanderbeek (cryingdawson.gif). My favorite addition this year was the lead guy from Entourage, which I think makes for a really interesting career arc.
Anyway, I phoned this one in too. It’s late in the season, and I’ve written a lot of these. 1990s/2000s star’s career has slowed, and now they’re doing these not super cool but still profitable films. It’s Nebraska.
Northwestern - Fraught Parent Relationship (#11)
H: 11 L: 13 LW: 13
While many of the relationships featured in Hallmark films are so functional and wholesome they make your teeth hurt, there is the occasional discord or misunderstanding for dramatic effect. Maybe the parents yearn for their son to come back and take over their super Christmassy lodge! Maybe someone’s mom is a bit pushy about why the leading lady isn’t married yet. Maybe the parent is Santa and his son’s youthful adventure to go be an architect in Seattle instead of hewing to tradition and being... Santa, Jr., I guess? isn’t sitting well (yes really).
Northwestern fans have had similarly complicated feelings about Pat Fitzgerald and his loyalty to traditions like Mick McCall this season. Sure, they owe their program life to him—but at times, he felt more than a little suffocating. However, with an unexpected win over Illinois and a dismissal of Mick McCall, is Pat Fitzgerald showing that anyone can change if
they get a bit of pressure from boosters they open their heart to the magic of Christmas?
Maryland - Christmas Parade or Pageant (#12)
H: 12 L: 13 LW: 12
If they’re not saving niche festive businesses from ruin, another common activity for our Hallmark protagonists is to save/organize/participate extensively in a town festival or pageant. You would not believe how into a Wreath Festival a town of 1200 merry citizens (who somehow also have a bustling main street and an independent book shop) can be, but in Hallmarkland, people f*cking love a festival. And if you miss it, you probably deserve death row (but don’t worry, no one ever misses it—if it seems like they’re going to, they have a change of heart right in the nick of time and fly back from an important business meeting in Scotland in order to make it! Hallmarkland has the cheapest and fastest trans-Atlantic flights in the universe.)
The thing is, this will always ring hollow, because no one cares that freaking much about the Community Christmas Festival. They just don’t. Another thing no one cares about? Maryland football. It sounds kinda fun in theory, but ultimately, it’s pretty hard to actually watch for any extended period of time.
Rutgers - Commercials Every Eight Minutes (#13)
Last Place Votes: 13 H: 14 L: 14 LW: 14
Every Hallmark movie is exactly two hours long—minus commercials, of which there are many. So really, they’re like 63 minutes long. Anyway, I was going to write about how lame and predictable and annoying the commercials for jewelry companies, Lexus, and Balsam Hill Christmas Trees were, but then I found THIS:
I never cared for her on Full House too self absorbed do not watch Fuller house either.
Hallmark has 3 channels on DirecTV 312 564 and 565 every 5 to 8 minutes they do this promo with Candace cameron bure her annoying voice like nails on a chalkboard. Christmas on Thursdays same people in same scenarios different title.hallmark is pure greed publishing ornaments balsam fir trees.need better actors actresses avg people not skinny broads men look like models too.women so cold no emotion
It’s a whole site of people being mad about the Hallmark Channel’s commercials, and it is better than anything the company has ever produced. It has everything:
Richard P. of Manchester, NH who is a special snowflake:
Hallmark Channel in Manchester, New Hampshire - Kill the impeachment ad - Please NO POLITICS from Hallmark
Watching a Hallmark movie of the week on May18, 2019 - it was interrupted by what seemed like a 3-minute ad of *** screeching about “crimes” committed by the President and saying he needed to be impeached. It was rude, dishonest, disgusting, anti- and un-American and extremely offensive - please do not become another arm of the leftist, Hate America propaganda machine!
Anonymous from Ohio is unhappy about unwholesome deep voices (hmmm what could that be code for...) in insurance commercials:
First I want to comment on your shows.. It’s nice seeing shows about Love..
The Christmas, Valentine’s, Spring line ups all nice. BUT...The commercials are not that good especially the one with the car Insurance Liberty. The man’s voice is manipulated into a deep voice, so he is incognito..Or credit score commercial.. Where the guy is screaming, when the wife wants to check her score..
very annoying.. There must be some nice , happy wholesome commercials..
Anonymous from Fresno is concerned with Hallmark’s pro-psychic leanings:
Hallmark Channel in Fresno, California - Don’t like a commercial
Because of your values you portray I do not think you should advertise about Psychics ( Fortune Tellers). I feel very strongly about this.
Someone is mad about the use of Spanish while predictably using the wrong “your”:
Hallmark Channel - Spanish commercials on hallmark
Why are there Spanish commercials on Hallmark channels? Stop it or your going to lose viewers
Happily, this person is NOT a snowflake:
Hallmark Channel - Disgusted
Just saw a commercial promoting the impeachment of President Trump....HALLMARK CHANNEL...STAY OUT OF POLITICS...THIS IS DISGUSTING...HE IS AN ELECTED PRESIDENT BY THE AMERICAN PEOPLE...SHAME ON YOUR CHANNEL FOR BEING BOUGHT AND PAID FOR BY THE LIBERAL ANTI AMERICAN SNOWFLAKES...ANOTHER CHANNEL I WILL NO LONGER WATCH...
Loyal listener/watcher Stephanie thinks the word “snot” is inappropriate:
I love Hallmark movies. I pay extra to watch Hallmark.
I pay for Sling just so I can watch. Im getting offended by extreme repeat commercials. Some of the words like snot are crude ...to me and not necessary. The inability to forward easily is preventing me to pause and later finish movies.
I can’t believe I’m considering no longer watching Hallmark because of these two issues. Please reply you’ll do something.
Thank you, Loyal listener/ watcher. Stephanie
It’s “Ok Boomer” on steroids. It’s Fox News viewers in their purest, undistilled form. It’s “mad on the internet” ad infinitum. The Amish have way better senses of humor than these people, and it’s glorious.
Anyway, commercials, these people, and Rutgers all suck and always will.
Will you be watching Hallmark Christmas movies this December?
This poll is closed
Yes! They are fun.
Yes, but unwillingly
Um, definitely not.
No (but actually yes, I just couldn’t bring myself to admit the truth)
Die Hard is not a Christmas movie
Thanks for reading another season’s worth of our niche interests weirdly compared to your favorite teams! These are a ton of work, but so fun to write, and we love that you seem to enjoy them too.