The Enduring Allure of Hallmark Christmas Movie Tropes

Amanda Sakuma
Published in
3 min readNov 27, 2020

Photos: Hallmark

I have a confession to make: I know very little about the Hallmark Channel canon of holiday romance films. The TV in my childhood home picked up fewer than 10 channels on any given day; family-friendly melodramas were not part of the regular programming. Yet over the years, I’ve heard the many infamous tropes that define a Hallmark classic: the interchangeable character archetypes, the predictable storylines, the wholesome, open-hearted outlook on the world. It’s mindless nostalgia tied neatly with a bow, which not so ironically is all our pandemic-addled brains can process these days.

If there ever were a time to succumb to the pull of Hallmark’s feel-good genre of films, then 2020 might be it. And like many cultural artifacts that simultaneously delight and confuse, Hallmark has attracted a cult-like fandom that’s just as interesting to watch as the movies themselves. These self-proclaimed fans have me nearly convinced there is more to Hallmark movies than the “happily ever after” you can spot from a mile away. Or maybe that’s all we need right now — to finally be able to see what’s ahead.

Here’s what people are writing about Hallmark Christmas movies on Medium:

The Feminist Hallmark Movie Universe by Tressie McMillan Cottom

Hallmark movies are not feminist, except in that vague nonsensical way in which anything with a woman in it is somehow feminist. The scripts trade in every trope of unexamined whiteness, class warfare, gender conformity and patriarchal family norms. I watch them because there is no subtext and no surprises. There are only three things that turn off my critical survival lens and Hallmark movies are one of the three. I suspect that is because I do not need a single new skill to anticipate them. That’s because: The monster in Hallmark movies is exactly the same monster in my actual life — whiteness. They are comforting in that way.

How Holly Robinson Peete Brought Black Love to Hallmark Christmas by Adrienne Samuels Gibbs

“The Black love portion of this movie is awesome, right?” says Robinson Peete, speaking of her…

Amanda Sakuma
Writer for

Editor/writer. Words in GEN, The Atlantic, Glamour, The Intercept, MSNBC, NBC News, NYT, Vice, Vox, and more.