Those Made-For-TV Christmas Movies

I just don’t get the appeal.

I can’t say that… Which means I should go back and erase that, but I’m leaving it for dramatic effect. No, in part, I do understand the appeal of those made-for-TV Christmas movies. It’s the holiday season and who doesn’t enjoy a feel good love story that follows a very simple, very familiar formula every single time?

Me… I don’t enjoy it.

It’s not because I have anything against your typical romantic comedy. I even like the formula: boy meets girl, boy and girl fall for each other but both are afraid to admit it, boy and girl have some kind of contrived conflict that makes it look like they’ll never get together, then boy and girl make up and admit they’re in love… roll credits.

But there’s something about these Christmas movies that you find on the Hallmark Channel or Lifetime or Animal Planet that are just a couple steps below those typical romcoms that enjoy a theatrical release. I’m sure that’s just my opinion. They wouldn’t produce approximately 496 of these movies each December if they weren’t popular. There are so many of these things that I’d be surprised if there isn’t already a Christmas movie channel devoted solely to these made-for-TV deals 24/7. They wouldn’t even need to include the real Christmas classics like It’s a Wonderful Life or Home Alone. No… it’s all Christmas Reunion in Little Rock all the time.

Is that a real movie? I’m pretty sure I just made up the title, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it already exists.

For the record, I just Googled that title and it is not yet a movie. But it basically writes itself.

My problem isn’t that these movies exist or that they’re so popular with so many people. It’s just how unwatchable they really are. For a long time, I didn’t want to give any of them a chance. But I can’t help but be curious about why so many people get so excited about the day after Halloween seeming to usher in the official beginning of Christmas time on the Hallmark Channel. Of course, some are better than others.

It’s probably best to look at the cast to judge whether the quality will be high or low…

For example, if your leads are child stars from the 80s or 90s, there’s a good chance it’s got a decent budget, which means it may have a decent script and a decent director. After all, where would the careers of Lacey Chabert and Danica McKeller be if not for made-for-TV Christmas flicks?

But if you don’t recognize any of those names in the cast… buckle up and get ready for a pretty bumpy, poorly produced ride. Look, I don’t like to bash on a movie of any kind because it represents a lot of hard work that a lot of people were willing to put into it. That doesn’t necessarily stop something from being bad…

I won’t mention the title of the movie I’m referencing, but I recently caught one that was like a really bad car accident. You know… the kind where you’re driving by and you should really just mind your own business and keep going, but you’re compelled to slow down and look to try and piece together exactly what could have caused that station wagon to catch fire.

Five minutes into this movie, I could tell that they didn’t actually hold auditions to cast the roles. I’m pretty sure the producers found the cheapest locality to make a movie then posted a cast list on the bulletin board at the closest community center.

  • Are you a man between the ages of 50 and 70? You’re perfect to play our town sheriff. Ability to read a plus, but not a deal breaker.
  • Are you a woman between the ages of 55 and 60? You’re perfect to play the owner of the local diner. We’re gonna say that everyone in town eats there all the time, but we don’t have the budget for any extras, so it’s going to be empty throughout the entire movie.
  • Are you a woman between the ages of 30 and 45? You’re perfect to play our lead. If you can read your lines with some inflection, as if you’re excited about the fact that you’ve stayed in the town you grew up in your whole life, that would be great. But if you deliver the lines without emotion, that’s cool, too.
  • Are you a kid who likes to sing in front of your family no matter how many times they ask you to shut up? You’re perfect for our flashback scenes. We need about six of you. And we really need you to ham it up.
  • Are you able to burst into our “diner” and make an announcement about a few inches of snow as if it’s an apocalyptic blizzard? That… Just do that. We don’t need you for anything else.

Obviously, there are other roles to fill that will round out the cast for this movie I’m referring to, but they just get kind of repetitive.

It was like watching a bad high school play. The kind of bad high school play that you watch at a high school where drama class is just one of those electives that kids take for an easy A but none of them really care about becoming actors. Except maybe for one of them… Yeah… that’s the one that stands out. Doesn’t mean that kid is a better actor than the others, you can just tell they care a little too much. Probably because that kid either wrote the script or put up most of the money representing the budget.

Another sign of the quality of the movie involves the music used. Even some of those bigger budget Hallmark flicks won’t use your traditionally recognized Christmas songs. They’ll get original music from unrecognized artists because it’s cheaper. That movie I did the cast list for? No music at all… no Christmas songs… no score to listen to in the background.

If you happen to be one of those individuals who happen to love those made-for-TV Christmas movies, I apologize if you were offended. They’re just… so bad…

Feature Photo by Artboard Studio on Unsplash

3 thoughts on “Those Made-For-TV Christmas Movies

  1. I recently put one of Netflix’s versions of these movies on last weekend as I was wrapping presents and it was borderline painful to be subjected to; I’m not sure my right eyebrow has ever been that high up on my forehead for that amount of time before. I ended up turning it off and putting on my Pandora Christmas station instead.

    Liked by 1 person

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