The Sliding Scale of Sapphistry: The Hallmark Hustle

The Sliding Scale of Sapphistry: The Hallmark Hustle

After Love, Classified came out, we chatted about it in LezWatch Slack and people rightly pointed out the shortcomings of a made-for-tv romcom movie:

  1. Limited time – Most movies clock in at 120 minutes
  2. Simplistic formula – These are all the same flow (meet girl, mess up with girl, get girl)
  3. Direct conclusions – Everything always wraps up with a bow

This sadly leads to a feeling that a movie is rushed. You jump from kissing a woman to wearing rainbows and being all-in-queer:

Which prompted me to remark:

If the Hallmark movie does well, though, then we can finish the move from ‘background lesbians at a wedding’ through ‘BFF lesbian with no life’, ‘secondary/not-quite-main character gets a girlfriend,’ to finally “Main character is a lesbian looking for love.” Which given that this is Hallmark’s fifth movie with queers is actually a quick and sane correction.

Which gets us to this post.

Let’s See the List

I’m not kidding about this being Hallmark’s 5th, by the way — excluding the Good Witch (which is a series). It’s also the fifth since 2020. So Hallmark has jumped into the corrections really fast.

In order:

  1. Christmas with the Darlings (2020)
  2. Wedding Every Weekend (2020)
  3. An Unexpected Christmas (2021)
  4. Every Time a Bell Rings (2021)
  5. Love, Classified (2022)

The first one, if you didn’t know going in there were lesbians, you could easily blink and miss it. The second one, though, was actually a plot point to reflect on the main characters (they went to a wedding every weekend and eventually fell in love), as one of those weddings was for lesbian friends.

We don’t get a character with real ‘meat’ until An Unexpected Christmas, which has a queer who is involved in the plot, but there’s no romance going on until the second movie of 2021, thanks to LezWatch Heroine Ali Liebert.

Show Score Scale

So there has to be a scale, right? There are two. We’ll do scores first.

Chart showing that all the movies are between 49 and 60 points for a show score.

I am delighted to note that all the movies are between 49 and 60! I’m sad that nothing goes over that. The reason the scores are so high, and why that low one is low, is that most of them have happy endings.

And for a very interesting note, that middle one drops, right? It’s also the first time a queer female had a significant role. Like her role wasn’t “Gay BFF.” Or in her case, “Gay Sister!” While the show is heavily down-checked since she has no gay friends, and no happy ending, it’s also the first holiday season without Bill Abbott, former Hallmark CEO.

Why does that matter?

Remember the Zola wedding add that had two women, and Hallmark pulled it only to restore it a couple days later?

Yeah. That was him. He’s the one who kept it off air.

If An Unexpected Christmas had given us a romance, or a happy ending, it would have been closer to 60.

Sapphic Scale

Okay, now the fun one. Remember we have four points:

  1. background lesbians
  2. bestie lesbian has no queer friends
  3. secondary character gets a girlfriend
  4. main character gets a girl as a major plot

To make the scale of any real use, we also want one more:

5. the whole plot is about the queer who has a happy ending

We don’t have that. Yet. So I did a little math, based on what the queers were like and got this:

TV MovieSliding Scale
Christmas with the Darlings3
Wedding Every Weekend1
An Unexpected Christmas2
Every Time a Bell Rings4
Love, Classified5

And in visual format:

Chart showing that the trend is upwards.

The reason I gave Christmas with the Darling a bump there, is that it has a queer BFF who has a plotline (she meets the cute barista). The next two movies don’t really have a queer plotline like that. Every Time A Bell Rings has the problem of disconnected storylines (it feels like the queers aren’t really related to the main plot), and finally Love, Classified has a realistic, if truncated, romance between women and all the mother says is “She’s dating a doctor!?”

The best news from all this is it looks like Hallmark’s on the gravy train for corrections. A lot of people don’t like these silly romcoms, and that’s totally fair, but so much of middle America does. The people who are watching these may not realize they know gays, or maybe their kids are being ‘forced’ to watch the movie, and suddenly they see themselves.

But next? Hallmark, can you please cast our angel, Ali Liebert, as a queer lady looking for love and have the plot be the family trying to find her the perfect girl?

About Mika A. Epstein

Mika has been deep in fandom since she could say 'Trekkie.' With decades experience in running fansites, developing software, and organizing communities, she's taken on the challenge of delving into the recesses of television for queers long forgotten. Making this site with Tracy is nothing short of serendipity. Mika lives with her wife and their cats in Southern California. Of course she has a hybrid, but she'd rather ride her bicycle.

5 thoughts on “The Sliding Scale of Sapphistry: The Hallmark Hustle

  • Taylor’s transformation from a straight woman to one that accidentally becomes involved with a lesbian doctor seems rather unrealistic. I thought that Emilia’s reaction to the fact that her daughter is dating a doctor was rather cute. I interpreted it as a mother happy that her daughter seemed emotionally involved with someone and that someone had a serious professional career. It’s been a painfully slow pace for Hallmark but, to their credit, they have started to expand their romantic universe. Hopefully, they will continue to evolve and produce more realistic plots. The ratings of these queer movies will be the impetus for Hallmark to continue down this path.

    • There was a brief, blink and you miss it, mention that Taylor saw sexuality as a spectrum while on her first date with Franki (Franki says it to her bestie) so … at least there was a small bit of setup for that super fast deep dive. Also with only 120 minutes and three plotlines, I’m willing to give them a nod for the speed.

  • Don’t get me wrong, I rather have the lighting fast transformation than not at all. I caught the comment at the bar. I thought it was Franki describing how she saw Taylor not that it was comment made by Taylor about herself. My bad! By the way, I have been meaning to write to thank you for the work you put into your columns. I very much look forward to reading about programs that I would be interested in watching …… You save me, and I am sure many others, a great deal of time searching for what to watch next. Keep up the good work!

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