Review of Hulu’s new lesbian Christmas movie
~Emma Dixon, Executive Producer of CNUTV~
This review contains spoilers from the movie.
It’s the moment all lesbians have been waiting for. On Nov. 26, Hulu release a highly anticipated lesbian Christmas movie. For years, lesbians have had to sit through cliché, heteronormative Hallmark Christmas movies. When Hulu annouced it was coming out with a lesbian Christmas movie, almost everyone was excited. Then they announced the cast, and everyone got even more excited. Kristen Stewart? Aubrey Plaza? Daniel Levy? Oh, this is a lesbian’s dream.
Still images from the movie, called Happiest Season, went viral on Twitter and Instagram leading up to its release right in time for Thanksgiving. Lots of people were talking about this movie, especially everyone in the LGBTQ community.
Starring Kristen Stewart as Abby and Mackenzie Davis as Harper, the movie obviously takes place around the Christmas holiday. Abby and Harper have been in a loving relationship for several years. Abby is not a huge fan of Christmas, so Harper convinces her one night to spend Christmas with her parents and sisters in the hopes to convince her to love Christmas. On board with the idea, Abby decides she will ask Harper’s dad for her hand in marriage and propose on Christmas morning. But there’s one small problem. Yep. You probably guessed it.
Harper has not come out to her parents and family yet.
When they are driving to the family’s home, Harper drops the bombshell that she never in fact told her parents she was gay despite telling Abby she had. But wait. It gets better. You probably guessed it again. Harper’s parents think she and Abby are just roommates. Another chiche checked off the list.
Once they arrive at Harper’s parents house, as one can imagine, things just progressively get worse. Harper asks Abby to hide the fact that they are in a relationship because she does not want to come out while her dad is running to be mayor because it does not fit the perfect image her parents expect from their daughters that has been imposed on her and her two sisters their whole lives.
Throughout the visit, Abby ends up feeling deserted by Harper and like she is being forced back into the closet. Abby feels like she doesn’t recognize the women she loved because she ends up spending a lot of time with her ex-boyfriend while they are home. Abby also learns that Harper actually dated her best friend in high school, Riley (Aubrey Plaza). But it turns out that Harper pretended that Riley was the one coming on to her so that no one knew she was gay.
Things come to a boiling point at the big Christmas Eve party which is a big event to impress a donor for the father’s mayoral campaign. In a jealous rage, Harper’s older sister ends up revealing to the whole party that Harper is gay after seeing her and Abby kiss in the downtairs sotrage room. Although at the party she denies it, hurting Abby’s feelings, Harper eventually comes out to her parents after guests leave. After Harper comes out to her family and reveals that she is in love with Abby, Abby decides it is too late and leaves Harper.
But, like any romantic comedy Christmas movie, Harper chases after Abby and the two end up together and spend Christmas morning together with Harper’s family. Through the picture montage during the credits, it is also revealed that Harper and Abby get engaged.
Okay, so, let’s unpack this. Because it’s a lot. And some people are mad.
Let’s start with the positives. First, it does a fairly good job at capturing the experiences of LGBTQ people. Especially around Christmas time. During a sentimental moment after she breaks it off with Harper, Abby’s best friend (Daniel Levy) says some very heartfelt things that resonate with those in the LGBTQ community. Essentially he says that everyone has their own coming out story. He explains that it is not Abby’s fault that Harper is not out to her parents yet. He explains that people either have good experiences when they come out to family or really bad experiences coming out to their family or anything in between good and bad.
Another positive is that it gives the LGTBQ community representation they’ve been missing for years. Happiest Season is one of the few Christmas movies that shows the experiences of queer people during the holiday season. It shows the pressure that comes from hiding who you are when you are around your friends and family during Christmas.
Now, let’s talk about some of the bad things that people are upset about.
Many are upset at the way Harper treated Abby. Many feel like she gaslights Abby the entire movie especially when it comes to Harper hanging out of her ex-boyfriend. For example, a TikTok creator Madison Ward (@mad_ward) critiqued this part of the film and discussed that because Abby went back to Harper so easily, despite her behavior, could give straight people the wrong impression. This video brings up the point that stright people may think the only thing Harper did wrong was lie because she hadn’t come out as gay when in reality many gay people think Harper was borderline maniuplative in how she treated Abby.
Others are also upset that Abby went back to Harper and didn’t end up with Riley. Many feel like Stewart and Plaza had lots of on screen chemistry and that’s where the movie should have gone – and I agree. There were so many subtle hints of flirting and longing that I feel like they should have ended up together.
All in all, Happiest Season is a fairly good movie. Although there are some certain things about it that are iffy, overall it is a great movie. It brings more LGBTQ representation into the mainstream media and is a feel good movie for the holiday season. A holiday rom-com with Kristen Stewart is just the thing we needed to save the year 2020.