Confessions of a Reformed Hallmark Hater
Just five years ago, I was five years younger, riding the relatively painless winds of high school, and serving as the fiery premier of the Hallmark Hater Club. My Simple Existence completely threw off the well-defined cliches pervasive in the Hallmark Cinematic Universe. Severe and predictable, the successful young professional returns from the big no-name city to her quaint hometown just in time for the holidays, but is still a little hesitant to open that box of nostalgia. Fortunately, the high school hunk of yesteryear is still around and single (yay!), and the two are only one cute encounter away from a happily ever after.
Now five years older, ironically, I’m writing a review for “Pumpkin Everything,” the latest Hallmark drop that was somehow cheesier than a maze adjacent to a pumpkin patch and…
Time was well spent.
“Well, well…how the tables turn,” my mom said when I informed her of our urgent need to watch Hallmark’s latest made-for-TV movie over the fall break. The classic Hallmark supporter and recipient of my teenage critics, she always rebutted my critics with, “It’s good when it all works out for once.” But a child with a nil, fast, and crouched understanding of the trials, tribulations, stresses, and pressures of life as a true adult human being called the “things that need to work” utterly meaningless.
With mid-runs and tries, matrices and algorithms swirling my vision on the plane ride home, sappy, predictable and “working for once,” everything seemed a little more appetizing under these new guises. Maybe I was beginning to understand.
Hallmark movies are deeply popular despite the general consensus about their inferior quality. Out of several hundred TV movies, only about 20 have an IMDb rating of seven or higher. And yet, Hallmark dominates viewership, especially during the holidays. In 2020, the channel topped the podium of all entertainment cable channels in the fourth quarter and finished second overall for the year.
Hallmark movies are bankable with budgets typically under $1 million, about one-seventieth the average cost of a Hollywood blockbuster. Hallmark’s economy just works, which explains the forty (!) Holiday Movies slated for release in 2022. Hallmark Never Loses. The more cheese, the better.
With their new drop, Hallmark is still hitting a thousand.
“Everything Pumpkin” is gloriously baked – like a good pumpkin pie – in all things hilariously sweet and sweet. Amy (Taylor Cole) is a novelist preparing for the press tour of her latest release The Rise of the Vampires in [whatever big city she comes from]. With word that her grandfather was in a car accident (don’t worry, he’s fine!), Amy rushes back to her hometown of Autumn Burrow (not making it up) amidst a gorgeous red fall and gold. A town of great harvest spirit, old ladies from the nursing home run the local radio station, and Amy’s grandfather runs an adorable autumn-themed brick and mortar called Pumpkin Everything. In a not-so-shocking twist, Pumpkin Everything’s only employee is Kit (Corey Sevier), Amy’s former high school flame, and he can’t quit.
If you’re browsing Hobby Lobby’s fall decorating section for fun or like to laugh at cute small-town stereotypes, “Pumpkin Everything” has, well, it all. Double-digit pumpkin spice lattes are consumed, a few toffee apples too, white wine under the pergolas, sweaters and flannels galore, several leaf garlands hung, scarecrow contests begin, fairs at the pumpkin are frequented and everything is linked with a happy ending.
Despite the relentless gaiety, Hallmark movies present perhaps the greatest dichotomy of all time between programming and commercials. The mood swings are immense – St. Jude, World Wildlife Fund, Humane Society. Prepare the heart strings. The tear ducts will be tested.
Thinking on the couch, laughing shot after shot, grimacing through half-baked line (like bad apple pie) after half-baked line, I finally got it. Maybe Hallmark is giving stressed people the chance to experience a hilarious fairy tale for ninety minutes plus commercials. Perhaps Hallmark, on a plane of existence, tickles our nostalgia for home. Maybe I can’t hate Hallmark so much now that I’m the one coming back for the holidays. Watching “Pumpkin Everything” with my mom was really fun. My fifteen year old self looks on with disdain but sorry mate, your term is over. Next time you come home, whether it’s on vacation or anytime, maybe throw in “Mingle All The Way” or “Fir Crazy” and have fun.
Get The Chronicle straight to your inbox
Subscribe to our weekly newsletter. Cancel anytime.