It’s a Saturday afternoon in mid-July and I’m sitting at home watching Mistletoe Over Manhattan on the Hallmark Channel. If it sounds like a Christmas movie, you’d be correct. Both Hallmark stations are featuring Christmas in July this summer, running previously aired Christmas programs. I’ve seen this one numerous times, as I did the one that was on when I first turned on the television. But I’m still plopped down on my sofa, pretending to get work done, as I veg out in front of the TV — because it’s too hot to be outside — watching Christmas movies in July!
I haven’t always watched the Hallmark Channel; and I certainly typically reserved the watching of Christmas programs for the holiday season. But I’ve seen my own consumption of these programs increase, throughout the year, over recent years; especially the last three. And according to several articles I’ve read recently, apparently I’m not the only one.
Forget about the talks regarding the increase in primetime ratings, the shift in gender demographics, and growth of viewers among the coveted 18-49 year olds. I personally started watching the Hallmark Channel as an escape from the world which seems to have suddenly started to lose much of its collective minds! As much as I don’t believe in burying my head in the sand; not remaining informed about the things going on around me and what’s happening in our country, the bombardment of negative, divisive, and depressing news that’s filled the small screens lately has become too much to consume on a regular basis..
I no longer enjoy watching dramas and crime stories, because the plots are too real; many times snatched right out of the headlines of the day. Reality TV is a train wreck, the talent shows seem rigged, and most of the sitcoms are no longer family-friendly.
In the past, I’d always turned to stations like HGTV and the Food Network to get away from all of the craziness of the real world. They were such great stress relievers. But they’ve changed so much over time that they are no longer enjoyable to watch. I mean, HGTV seems to only be about renovating, flipping, and buying homes. Gone are the decorating shows and programs focusing on actually THE home; and people enjoying being at home! They might as well call themselves H-TV, since there’s pretty much nothing going on with the “G” category of their name — no gardening shows whatsoever. And if you’re not interested in people competing, you might as well forget about watching the Food Network; at least not at night! Of course, that’s the time of day when most working people get a chance to watch anything.
What the Hallmark and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries channels have figured out is the adult formula of Disney! The programming is simple — positive, family-friendly, uplifting, encouraging, and inspirational. The Christmas shows are almost always stacked with the stereotypical trappings of the holidays — overly decorated homes, lots of glitter and gold, snow covered yards, roaring fireplaces and fire pits, snowball fights, plenty of homemade cookies and a gingerbread house, hot cocoa and cider, and of course an ice skating rink — mostly all in the same show! And then there are the romance programs; sectioned off seasonally — February’s Valentine’s Day programming, Spring romance, June weddings, summer and autumn themed love stories, which all have the story line predictability of a sunrise over the Atlantic ocean!
And in spite of knowing all of this…I love it! We all do; those of us who keep helping to grow the Nielson ratings for this network.
But why do we love it? Why do I watch the Hallmark Channel?
- No politics! Not even when there’s a politician in the storyline.
- No murderers. Though someone has usually lost a mom or dad; a spouse, or child, and that loss is typically what brings them together with the family or love interest in the story.
- Family first. The importance of family, even in conflict, is never taken for granted, and ultimately, the “good” character traits are attributed back to someone important in their family.
- Everyone who loses a job, finds a bigger, better one. Or they strike out on their own, following their passions and dreams that their regular job kept them from achieving.
- Love wins. Even if the person has to discover the true meaning of love along the way, and/or ends up with someone different than who they thought they were in love with.
- No illicit sex scenes and no profanity. I can watch Hallmark with any age member of my family and friends.
I watch the Hallmark Channel in part to be reminded that good entertainment doesn’t have to include sex, drugs, violence, and heaven forbid — politics! People are interested in their entertainment — music, movies, literature — to be entertained; to enjoy their time in front of the screen or in a book. I think that too many writers, television and movie studios and executives, songwriters and music artists forget that.
I think Hallmark is accomplishing that, at least in my household, and with many of my friends.
Now, if they would only work on the lack of diversity in their programming!