Last month, when I released my review of Swept from the Sea, it became my 250th published post! As I made that realization, I knew that I had to do something to commemorate the occasion. My most popular post on 18 Cinema Lane is my list of “The Top 10 Worst Hallmark Movies of All Time”, with 3,019 views and counting! Because this particular list brings readers and followers to my blog, I thought it would be fitting to create a similar post. While other people on the internet have talked about worst clichés from a variety of genres, I have never seen anyone discuss the worst clichés from Hallmark movies. That’s where this list comes in, as I talk about the clichés that I am not a fan of seeing in Hallmark’s films. These clichés are not the worst because the clichés themselves are bad, but because they are poorly or overly used. My list is in no way meant to be mean-spirited or negative. Also, this list will not include a Dishonorable Mentions section, unlike my aforementioned post. Before I begin, I just wanted to say that the clichés I’ve selected are based on my opinion.
- The “we’re not together” cliché
This cliché has been found in movies from Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. Either the male and female protagonist tells someone that they’re not together after someone assumes that they’re dating or they try to convince people that they’re not in a relationship. The way these characters share their relationship status comes across like they’re embarrassed by the possibility of being mistaken for a couple. A recent example of this is one of the latest mystery films, Witness to Murder: A Darrow Mystery. I’m not as bothered by this cliché as I am with the other ones on this list, hence the reason why it’s featured at number ten. But, whenever this cliché is included, it seems like the characters are making a big deal over nothing. In real life, I’m pretty sure that these individuals would just tell others about the state of their relationship in the calmest and honest way possible.
- The “moving out of the way for an oncoming vehicle” cliché
In most films on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, the protagonist is in danger of getting hit by an oncoming vehicle. Fortunately, they are rescued just in time by being pushed out of the vehicle’s way. I understand that a moment like this is meant to create suspense for the story. But this cliché makes the protagonist look like they are willing to overlook simple and important safety precautions, such as looking both ways before crossing the street. Throughout the Aurora Teagarden series, the audience has come to know the titular character as an intelligent detective. But, when the “moving out of the way for an oncoming vehicle” cliché was incorporated into Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: An Inheritance to Die For, it makes it seem like her intelligence is being belittled to a certain extent.
- The “it’s not what you think” cliché
This cliché can usually be found in Hallmark Channel movies. Either the male or female protagonist will overhear pieces of a conversation or discover small tidbits of information, causing them to assume the worst. Instead of having a civil and respectful conversation with the other person, they will accuse that person of something they didn’t do and distance themselves from them. More often than not, the person who became upset has those feelings for ridiculous reasons. Fortunately, there are Hallmark movies that try to use this cliché in a way that complements the story. Two good examples are Easter Under Wraps and Rome in Love, where the people who discover the information have a legitimate reason to be upset. It’s also understandable how someone could get upset by the information that the movie presents. While I’m still not a fan of this cliché, I’m always appreciative when a cliché is not just put in a movie for the sake of being there.
- The “male and female protagonist always fall in love with each other” cliché
While I’m not bothered by this cliché like I am with others on the list, the idea of the male and female protagonist always falling in love with each other is kind of getting repetitive. As soon as you see the movie poster, you know how the relationship will turn out. One of my favorite Hallmark movies is This Magic Moment. In that film, the male protagonist falls in love with the main female supporting character, who happens to be his childhood best friend. Meanwhile, the female protagonist ends up becoming single at the end of the movie, a decision that she’s perfectly content with. I really wish that Hallmark would incorporate more surprises like that. Whether they tell a similar story to This Magic Moment or having the female protagonist fall in love with the main male supporting character, the story would be a breath of fresh air.
- The “protagonist’s ex showing up unannounced” cliché
A Hallmark Channel movie that adopts this cliché is The Story of Us. In this film, the protagonist’s ex, portrayed by Sam Page, showed up unannounced in her life. That aspect of the story worked, especially since Sam Page’s character was the male protagonist. This allowed both of the protagonists to reconnect as a couple as well as giving the audience an opportunity to watch their relationship grow. But the protagonist’s other ex, a dentist who moved away to Texas, also shows up unannounced. For me, this part of the film didn’t work because it didn’t feel like it went anywhere. It was a waste of a character and subplot, especially since we knew that the female protagonist, portrayed by Maggie Lawson, had no intention of pursuing a relationship with him. This is not the first Hallmark movie to feature this cliché and it’s highly likely not going to be the last. But I still feel that if the male or female protagonist has no plans to get back together with their ex, then the cliché is pointless.
- The “planning a wedding in an unrealistic time period” cliché
Throughout my one year of blogging, this cliché is the one that I’ve probably talked about the most. As the cliché’s title indicates, it’s when an engaged couple decides to plan a wedding in an unrealistic time period, just so they won’t have to wait so long to get married. I find this cliché to not only be unrealistic, but also unhealthy. Weddings have the ability to cause stress and anxiety, yet every time this cliché is incorporated into a film, these aspects of wedding planning never get talked about. I’d like to see a Hallmark movie address how not everyone can plan such a large-scale event in six months or less. But, until then, Hallmark has created movies that effectively use this cliché in a way that fits within that cinematic world. Two examples are Wedding of Dreams and The Good Witch’s Gift, where the engaged couple has the money and resources that allow them to plan a wedding in a short amount of time. What also works in these movies’ favor is how this cliché is not the primary focus of the story. They include other interesting subplots to help move the plot along.
- The “business person is a jerk and/or out of touch” cliché
Whenever this cliché appears in a Hallmark film, I noticed that it’s mostly the businessmen who are dating the female protagonist that embody this cliché. Either they don’t act as nice as the male protagonist or they are “out of touch” with what’s important to the female protagonist. Because of this, the female protagonist ends up not falling in love with them. The reason why this cliché is placed higher than others on my list is how outdated it seems. After receiving films like the All of My Heart trilogy and Love Unleashed, the “business person is a jerk/out of touch” cliché doesn’t really feel like it has a purpose anymore. It also seems like this character’s sole purpose is to make the male protagonist look better in the eyes of the female protagonist. I’m surprised that Hallmark still adopts this cliché from time to time, especially since the Hallmark company is run by business people. I doubt that they would want to see their profession portrayed in a negative light.
- The “building condos is bad” cliché
Despite the many years that I’ve spent watching Hallmark movies, I’ve never understood the purpose of this cliché. In films that incorporate this cliché, the people in a small town are mad because a beloved piece of land or business will be replaced by a series of condos. The person planning on building the condos is either the film’s villain or just an antagonist. When this cliché was placed in Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: A Very Foul Play, it felt out of place. While it only played a minor role in the movie, it didn’t have any significance on the plot. Why would anyone be against the building of condos? Condos would create homes, which would also create a place for someone to belong and spend time with family. These ideas have been promoted by Hallmark for years, so having a cliché that contradicts that seems strange. I am waiting for the day when Hallmark makes a movie where the protagonist or a member of the protagonist’s family happily lives in a condo.
- The “royal movie” clichés
You’re probably wondering how I’m able to get away with putting so many clichés in one spot. Well, when it comes to Hallmark’s “royal” movies, these clichés usually come in a set. From the European prince with a British accent to the royal family not approving of the relationship between their family member and a “commoner”, these clichés make me discouraged by Hallmark’s lack of creativity. In an editorial called, “When Creativity is Squandered: The Wasted Potential on Hallmark’s Good Witch”, I talked about how these clichés prevented an episode of Good Witch from reaching its creative potential. The effects of these movies are now spilling into the television shows, holding the screenwriters back from exploring different methods of story-telling. My favorite movie from 2018 was Royally Ever After. One of the reasons is how this movie used as few “royal movie” clichés as possible. The creative team’s desire to move away from most of these clichés made the movie such a pleasant surprise for me. When Hallmark has created about twelve of these movies and about one or two of them actually try something new, that looks like a pretty bad track record.
- The “woman from the city coming back to her small hometown” cliché
Out of all the clichés that Hallmark includes in their movies, this is the one that is probably used the most. It’s as predictable as it sounds; a woman who currently lives in the city goes back to her small hometown for a variety of reasons. Once there, she realizes that she’d rather stay in her small hometown than go back to the city. I’m guessing that this cliché was once an important plot component before it received its current status. Whenever it’s included in a film, it makes that picture ten times more predictable. Even though this cliché can be found in a variety of Hallmark’s films, I’ve mostly seen it within their Christmas movies, with Christmas Wonderland being a recent example. I doubt that the “woman from the city coming back to her small hometown” cliché will go away anytime soon. But it would be nice if Hallmark explored other stories from different perspectives.
What are your thoughts on my list? Which cliché from a Hallmark movie is your least favorite? Share your thoughts in the comment section!
Have fun at the movies!