Last weekend, I was searching for something to put me in the Christmas spirit that was different from a normal Christmas classic when I was recommended a new, LGBTQ Christmas movie.
Hulu’s "Happiest Season’" is a slightly awkward but overall funny movie surrounding a closeted gay woman and her girlfriend visiting her conservative family for the holidays.
Director Clea DuVall based the story off her own experiences to give people like her a movie that showcases the struggles of being closeted, especially during the holidays.
With cast members like Kristen Stewart, Mackenzie Davis ("The Martian"), Dan Levy ("Schitt’s Creek") and Aubrey Plaza ("Parks and Rec"), it’s no surprise people were excited for the movie’s debut.
The movie opens with Abby (Kristen Stewart) and Harper (Mackenzie Davis) on a Christmas lights tour, and a lighthearted, funny encounter with one of the neighbors. They kiss and Harper asks Abby to come home with her for the holidays, kicking off the plot only a few minutes in.
One of the qualities I liked about this movie is how it mixes tradition with modernity. While it presents a lesbian couple going home for Christmas, there are still traditional values being portrayed throughout the film. Similarly, the directness of the characters and their backstories reminds me of a classic, right-to-the-point Hallmark movie.
I also enjoyed the various plot lines running through the movies, but some were done better than others. I felt like Harper’s relationship with her sister could have been more subtle, because I knew immediately how their story would end within their first interaction.
However, Harper and Riley’s (Audrey Plaza) relationship was unexpected, and added more depth to the characters. Unfortunately, DuVall dropped the ball with Riley’s character, who I loved, and I felt there could have been more character development to make her stronger overall.
Abby and John (Dan Levy) had an amazing friendship that, at some points, was the main reason I was watching the movie. Levy plays essentially the same character as David in "Schitt’s Creek", but is an excellent friend and support system for Abby, and a critical part of the movie’s charm.
As this is still a Christmas movie, even if it breaks tradition by featuring a lesbian couple, the ending was predictable and satisfying. Every character had significant character development, especially Harper, who I slowly grew to hate until the last ten minutes. I was pleasantly surprised with the overall ending, and it made me cry like a baby (to be fair, it's not that hard for a movie to do that to me).
Overall, this movie is worth the watch. I like that director DuVall aimed for solid representation throughout the movie, including LGBTQ actors to play the characters. "Happiest Season" doubles as both a romantic comedy and a Christmas movie starring a gay couple as the main characters, both of which are largely heterosexual genres.
This movie was successful because it instilled all of the normal Christmas-y feelings while featuring gay character, providing casual representation in a genre that desperately needs it.