Hallmark Therapy:: Movies that Help Us Escape

It’s probably an understatement to say that we’re living in fairly chaotic times right now.  I feel it. I know you feel it, as do our spouses, kids, friends and extended families.  We’re all looking for some comfort and relief from our worries and, maybe, just a bit of an escape from reality. Where do we turn?  Increasingly, I find one of my first choices to be the Hallmark Channel.  

Not Just Christmas Movies

Remember this past Christmas {which now feels like a million years ago} when it seemed like everyone was looking forward to snuggling in front of their television – favorite drink in hand – to watch the entire line up of Christmas movies Hallmark scheduled from, oh…I don’t know, late October through December?  Sure, they are schmaltzy and cheesy; entirely predictable, with just okay acting and bad accents from fictional countries. However, for whatever reason, we are here for it and Hallmark movies have become a feel good holiday tradition in millions of households.  Now that we’re 3 months past the holiday season and living in what often feels like some parallel universe, Hallmark movies keep providing some sense of comfort and joy.

February’s Hallmark movies were all about love, after all Valentine’s Day is smack dab in the middle of the month.  Next, the Winter romance movies start, immediately followed by Spring romance movies.  I’m fairly certain that the Summer romance movies will be along soon, to be succeeded by the Fall romance movies and well, that will lead us right back to Christmas.  Essentially, they’re the same movie formula reworked over and over again with a different setting and different actors {or maybe not}.  So, why do we keep coming back?

A Form of Escape

When life is at its most stressful, we seek ways to sooth our souls.  This can come in many forms – prayer and meditation, exercise or other hobbies are a few options. Anything, really, to take our mind off of our troubles.  Yes, Hallmark movies are formulaic, but this is exactly the thing that provides comfort and stability.  We know what’s going to happen before it actually happens:: Girl meets boy, girl dislikes boy; girl and boy end up in awkward situation usually requiring them to be in close proximity to each other even though they have some reason they can’t or shouldn’t be a couple.  Now, girl likes boy and boy likes girl.  Girl and boy almost kiss. Almost. Something happens to create a huge misunderstanding between girl and boy, causing girl or boy to abandon relationship without ever directly asking the other what really happened.  The offending party realizes his or her mistake and apologizes.  Girl and boy reunite and they kiss {{for real this time}}. The end.

That’s it, nothing more and nothing less. Yet, over and over again, I watch and even find myself subconsciously smiling at the television because it is two hours of escape from whatever is worrying me. It’s television that makes you feel good – no violence, no harsh language and nothing jarring.  Just a big dose of sappy happiness. 

Hallmark Movies as Self Care

I think Hallmark Channel is on to something here, whether they know it or not.  They are unwittingly  providing a therapeutic service for the masses in a time that we all can use an emotional release. Even their use of the same actors in varying roles in their movie line up reinforces a sense of familiarity, sort of like close friend or family member.  Although, if I’m honest, it also causes me to get my movies confused because the same actor or actress plays multiple characters.  Maybe that’s just me and anyway, who cares because that’s not the point.  Creating  a safe space where viewers can depend on benign, entertaining and uplifting content is what Hallmark is after and that’s what they accomplish.  From that first glimpse of the wholesome, ambitious and earnest female lead to the profession of love and sincerity from the handsome male co-star; spanning the globe from Seattle, to Chicago, to New York, to London.  Hallmark therapy is actually a thing and I highly recommend it.


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