By Alycia Gilb
If you were to randomly select a Hallmark Christmas title, odds are that the cover work would include a smiling, straight white couple dressed in green and red. It’s no secret that most Christmas movies aren’t known for diverse and complex plots. With the release of “Happiest Season” on Hulu, this genre added some much-needed LGBTQ+ content to its portfolio. “Happiest Season” is a brand-new film that, for the first time, features a lesbian couple.
“Happiest Season” follows a young lesbian couple and their struggle to keep their relationship hidden when Harper (Mackenzie Davis) brings her girlfriend, Abby (Kristen Stewart), home for the holidays. Because Harper had not yet come out to her parents, she asked Abby to masquerade as her friend who had nowhere else to go for the holidays. Throughout the film the couple faces some unique challenges that put a strain on their relationship, as the secret inches closer and closer to the surface.
Before I got the chance to watch this movie, there was already a barrage of negative reviews. Viewers critiqued the film for possessing a stereotypical storyline: a lesbian couple is tested when one partner has not come out yet out to her parents. Regardless, I was still excited to watch this movie, as I could finally watch a Christmas movie based on a couple that I could relate to.
The movie started off pretty well — it was filled with Christmas lights and sappy romance, just as in any other typical Christmas movie. Even though there was tension between the two characters when they arrived at Harper’s family home, I felt myself inevitably rooting for them.
Throughout the movie, however, I found it much harder to want Abby and Harper to end up together — the “I’m not out yet” storyline was all too familiar to me, and with the backlash the film received, it was clearly familiar to other viewers, too.
Aside from the tacky storyline, “Happiest Season” had me laughing the whole time, and the cast was very well chosen. My favorite part of the movie had to be two of the side characters: the forgotten younger child of the family, Jane, played by Mary Holland, and the gay best friend, John, played by Daniel Levy. These two characters provided much needed comedic relief throughout the film, especially during the awkward situations.
One of my favorite scenes of the movie was when Harper and her older sister, Sloane (Alison Brie), were confessing secrets to their parents. Though Jane didn’t have a secret, she felt the need to be included, so she stood with them and declared, “I don’t have a secret, but I am an ally.” Watching Jane bring humor to that tense scene was absolutely hysterical.
Even though the storyline could have been better, I really enjoyed “Happiest Season.” For years I have been waiting for a Christmas movie that I could really relate to, and I’m grateful that Hulu took the leap to broadcast a lesbian Christmas movie. Representation is so important, especially to younger generations, because it gives LGBTQ+ individuals characters they can relate to.