Countdown to Christmas
by Angelica Kalika — University of Colorado, Boulder
December 31, 2016 – 16:06
I love The Hallmark Channel. This happy ending medium is a necessity for a life of research paper writing. What is not to love? A lot.
Hallmark Channel’s Countdown to Christmas 2016 offers 19 films and started the season before Halloween. It is a more progressive line up then they have had in the past with a more diverse cast and character roles for women. But the Christmas films have a similar storyline with a general lack of racial and gender diversity. Any characters of color are secondary, women are expected to give up a career for a leading male character, and very rarely do men have any kind of real familial responsibility. The elitist aspect is still very present, with the types of jobs that the characters have with a limited range of journalist, high-end executive, or a very lowly assistant. With a rapidly changing audience, The Hallmark Channel needs to catch up to the millennial generation of family friendly films if they want to keep consumers changing back to the channel.
The storylines tell me, a white female, that I need to find a man to be fulfilled and have a conventional marriage. Females need to give up all the hard work they put into their careers, change towns and/or quit their job altogether. Rarely does a man need to think of sacrificing for a female. To top it off, these storylines keep recycling from either past made-for-TV movies or older theatrical release films.
This could be a pure reflection of what is happening in mainstream films that have a mostly white cast and a lack of diversity. Not only do these storylines trickle down to the made-for-TV Christmas films, but so do the gender and racial stereotypes that lack passing the Bechdel–Wallace test.
These nuclear family norms don’t really apply to millennials who are the least religious generation in last 60 years, are more likely to live with their parents, and according to Myers and Sadaghiani at age 40 most millennial women will still be single — about two times the previous generation.
With small screens and streaming services stealing eyeballs away from the conventional live TV format, keeping up with a changing and diverse audience (with whites becoming the minority in just under a couple decades) and appealing to a wider one will be key to survival.