The things I have learned from watching the Hallmark Channel.
And, yes, I am aware that pretty much everything in that sentence smacks of wrongness. You could repeat it with an emphasis on any of the major words and it would have appropriate meaning. Why was I watching the HALLMARK Channel? If my TV was there, why was I WATCHING it? Why ME? WHY?
Well, I can answer one question (but not the rest, sorry). I was watching because a friend of mine is an up-and-coming actress and had a role on one of the holiday movies. I’m very proud of her . . . for keeping a straight face. I want her to know what a good friend I am: I watched that whole movie, and I learned.
Here’s what I now know from her movie and a few of the Hallmark Channel commercials I was graced with while watching.
If you kill someone and you are female, be sure you kill someone with a good spin. Don’t just off the mugger who is chasing you – tell them it’s your birth brother. You can kill your husband, but be sure it looks like he has mafia ties first. If you kill the man you are having an affair with, it’s helpful if he’s your teenage daughter’s boyfriend. Better yet, get him to kill your teenage daughter. Then, when you are getting hauled off to jail and get to make your one phone call, don’t call a lawyer – call a PR agent. (Any good PR person can find you the right lawyer; it doesn’t necessarily work the other way around.) Yes, smart women finish with Hallmark Movie deals.
I also learned that daytime programming is for old TV shows. We all know that if you want reality you should avoid TV and movies. No one wants to watch your family (or mine) eat TV dinners while you epically fail at “Jeopardy” then argue about whether to watch “The Middle” or “Survivor: Nicaragua”. But the fact of the matter is that TV has gotten more real over the years. “Little House on the Prairie” makes “Modern Family” look gritty and raw.
In fact, you can do some TV archeology here on Hallmark. Just like “Prairie” gave way to “Modern Family” and “Parenthood”, I can argue that “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman” and “Rescue 911” have led us straight to current alphabet shows like “NCIS” and “CSI: Insert City Here”. Moreover, I can make a strong case that “Murder, She Wrote” and “Diagnosis, Murder” are merely the early harbingers of “The Walking Dead” . . . really. If you want to see someone in a dramatic chase scene where one of the characters is hindered by a death-like lack of speed, just watch Angela Lansbury or Andy Griffith attempt to get away from, well, anyone.
But maybe the best part of the Hallmark Channel is their original movie programming. It’s clear that Hallmark has a blanket policy of automatically rejecting any show with characters containing greater than puddle-depth. But for their movies, they have taken it to the next level – more character development than aluminum foil? You’re out! Add in the necessary element that Hallmark labels ‘romance’ and you can have some good times here. Well . . . maybe not.
On the one hand, I feel like such a stellar parent after watching Hallmark. I learned that Holiday Movie parents are pushy, never listen, have unreasonable demands for their children and lack any concept that grown children are actual people. This means that adults can/should do things like: fake engagements, lie about being married, and borrow other people’s cars, houses, children and boyfriends.
Hallmark characters not only lack in depth, they often lack in all neural processing. No one has any real qualms about safety when frying a turkey for Thanksgiving (of course hilarity occurs, rather than actual serious burns). One character claims a ‘cop’ brother will run a background check, but three scenes later puts her ‘best friend’ in the car with a strange man after a ‘google search’. And no one catches on when the man their daughter calls “Jason” is recognized as “David” by a really creepy Mexican restaurant waiter. Furthermore, even if you buy the really slim excuse for this, why are these parents not concerned that their future son-in-law is friends with the disturbingly creepy waiter? Maybe it’s because their other future son-in-law is a podiatrist who lovingly fondles the bare feet of near strangers (offering zero podiatric advice), and then proceeds to eat corn chips without washing his hands. (I kid you not.)
In the end, I learned so much. I learned that you can have a beautiful wedding in 27 days. You can find true love with the man of your dreams by pretending to be someone you aren’t. And that nothing will spoil your big day (like, say, the fact that she lost her job as a newspaper journalist, the industry is dying and she’s made no attempt to find other work but continues to live on her own in San Diego – and she’s the stable one. He was recently FIRED as a dancing street corner cell phone.)
But mostly, I learned that if dating the regular way (getting to know someone face-to-face) fails you, then the internet is a great place to meet people and find love. It’s best utilized by posting videos with identifying information on random websites, then giving out any additional personal info whenever requested. True love, I’m coming . . . Hallmark style!