Clichés: the Hallmark of Timeless Cinema

By, Ellen Pickette

When I share that my favorite channel is Hallmark, people laugh at me. As Nora E. ’21 puts it, “Hallmark movies so predictable and cliché to the point that they’re not even enjoyable to watch. They are unoriginal and unnecessary, and the lack of representation in them is a reflection of a whitewashed hollywood.” It is hard for some people to understand why someone would choose to watch movies that all have the same predictable plots when there are cinematic masterpieces being released. To be fair, it is an understandable view point; during the year they show reruns of old sitcoms and original shows and movies centered on family and love. At first, it was hard for me to understand this too; during the holiday season, why would one choose to watch Hallmark movies when Elf was available? During the rest of the year, why watch When Calls the Heart and reruns of the Brady Bunch when there are hundreds of shows that make you think deeply about the way the world works? However, as I began actually watching the movies and shows that are akin to scorn from many, I realized the beauty in the simplistic television Hallmark shows. Year round, it’s easy to get caught up in what’s happening politically in place of what really matters: family and friends and people you love. It’s easy to read the news and feel hopeless because of the state of the world, even if you have people around you whom you love and who love you.

Obviously, it is important to stay up to date on the news. It is imperative that people be aware of what is happening in their country and around the world, as doing so is one of the best ways to stay safe and to try to fix the issues our world faces. Avery B. ‘20 wonders “how else would we learn about political issues?”, pointing out that “most of us learn about them through TV and movies.” But doing this constantly with no break of entertainment can make people feel overwhelmed. Recently, even television shows have been based on the happenings of the world. Storylines do not feel like an escape, but rather a continuation of the feelings people have, negative or positive, about the world. This is good in some cases; for example, increasing diversity and helping to bring awareness to issues such as negative occurrences in our government is certainly important.

In contrast to this, Olivia H. ‘21 points out that “TV is an escape because you aren’t focusing on anything that is happening in your life or affecting your life in a little or big way…instead, you’re following someone else’s journey, taking a break, or having a laugh which is nice to do.” Keeping this sentiment in mind, not all television needs to be politicised, and that is where Hallmark comes in. Sure, the channel has its issuesit’s shocking lack of representation, for instance, is inexcusable. Hallmark does, however, do what television should do: it makes you forget the negative things that are happening in the world that make you scared for the future. It also creates an escape from the pessimistic void that constant news updates into which people can fall. It is a way to rewind and relax and to forget all of the things that make you stressed. As Julia B. ‘21 puts it, “Hallmark movies serve as a distraction, albeit a superficial one, from the problems we face in our lives”. It is in no way a solution to any world issues, but Hallmark has never tried to be nor claimed to be. Maybe that’s what makes it such a valuable channel: it doesn’t try to fix the world but instead tries to make it a brighter place.