Hallmark’s Top 10 Missteps From the 2010s That Should Not Be Repeated

When I published my review for Teenage Rebel last December, it became my 225th movie review! Since then, I’ve been thinking about what kind of article I should write in honor of this milestone. A few days ago, I saw a video on Youtube titled ‘Top 6 AG Trends that need to *GO* this Decade’. This video focused on how American Girl could correct their mistakes from the 2010s. Created by pinksmartiesag, it inspired me to think about the ways Hallmark can improve in the 2020s. Like any company, Hallmark is not perfect.  There are areas where they can grow and find success. During the first year of the 2020s, I have seen Hallmark’s mistakes from the past decade seep into 2020. In this list, I will talk about the missteps that Hallmark should leave behind in the 2010s to have a chance to make better choices in this new decade. Similar to the list-articles I’ve written in the past, everything I talk about is based on my opinion of the things I have noticed as a fan and consumer. The list is meant to be critical in a constructive way, not mean-spirited or negative. When I refer to Hallmark in this article, I am focusing on the entertainment division of Hallmark; which consists of the Hallmark Channel, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, and Hallmark Drama.

Image of 2010 and 2020 on chart created by Macrovector at freepik.com. Infographic vector created by macrovector – www.freepik.com
1. Hallmark Channel’s Over-Reliance on the Romantic Comedy (Rom-Com) Genre

In the 2010s, when Rom-Coms made less appearances in the cinema than in previous decades, Hallmark made it their mission to save this genre from extinction. While Hallmark attempted to preserve Rom-Coms, they ended up putting almost all their eggs in one basket. Now, every movie on Hallmark Channel is a Rom-Com, telling the same types of stories over and over again. This decision has caused the films on this network to feel repetitive and predictable. When you look at a typical poster for a Hallmark Channel movie, you already know how the story will play out. Lately, I’ve been watching and reviewing past Hallmark films, which have much more interesting stories. It feels like those were the days when Hallmark would embrace originality and not shy away from taking creative risks. I would like to see Hallmark experiment with different genres and tell a variety of stories in the 2020s. Creativity and imagination should be the rule moving forward!

2. Continually Using the Same Tropes and Clichés

Because Hallmark Channel has focused on the Rom-Com genre, there are several genre related tropes and clichés that are continually used throughout Hallmark’s film library. In my list of The Top 10 Worst Clichés from Hallmark Movies, I talk about some clichés that have run their course. How many times can you tell a story where a woman from a big city goes back to her small hometown before you call it quits? The constant inclusion of these tropes and clichés cause a given film to be more predictable. Even though some creative teams have approached these story-telling concepts in new and interesting ways, it feels like that has been the exception to the rule. It’s time for Hallmark to either put a new twist on these clichés and tropes or abandon them altogether.

3. The Hypocrisy

Ever since 2019, I have noticed Hallmark’s blatant hypocrisy when it comes to certain areas of their entertainment division. For this point, I’ll provide two examples. In my editorial, When Hallmark Made Their Fans Really Upset, I wrote about how, in 2019, Hallmark advertised they would be airing a new movie every Saturday night for an entire year on Hallmark Channel. However, that statement turned into a broken promise as there were some Saturdays when no new movies premiering. I also said in that editorial how Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries kept their promises to air a Christmas movie every Thursday and Friday night in correlation with the 10th Anniversary of Hallmark Channel’s “Countdown to Christmas” line-up. When it comes to subjects that Hallmark cares about, like Christmas, that becomes one of their top priorities. For everything else, it falls to the wayside.

While promoting Hallmark’s Christmas line-ups last year, Mike Perry, the CEO of Hallmark, claimed that “diversity and inclusion are a top priority for us”. But there are times when these words sound empty. The upcoming Hallmark Channel movie, Fit for a Prince, is a perfect example. Based on promotional material directly from the network’s website, we can see this is the same type of “royal” movie, starring the same types of actors in the same types of roles. Remind me how this is diverse? When it comes to story-telling, diversity is more than just a character’s appearance. It’s also about the perspectives, beliefs, and journeys those characters bring to the overall story. In my award post, The Sunshine Blogger Award and The Blogger Recognition Award: Two Awards for the Price of One, I said that I wanted to see Bai Ling join the main cast of When Calls the Heart as Hope Valley’s first female Mountie. One of the reasons why I want this is because it would be a beautiful opportunity for Hallmark to put their money where their mouth is. If diversity is that important to them, then they will take no issue in casting Bai on Hallmark Channel’s most popular scripted show.

4. Hallmark Making Promises They Know They Can’t Keep

As I just mentioned in point number three, Hallmark broke their promise to air a new movie every Saturday night for an entire year on Hallmark Channel. But that wasn’t the only promise the company broke in 2019. In my aforementioned editorial, When Hallmark Made Their Fans Really Upset, I talk about several films that were mysteriously removed from Hallmark Channel’s and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ schedules after being promoted for weeks or months. If Hallmark had any thoughts about moving films out of their respective premiere dates, why would they spend so much time promoting them and setting dates? In the seventh season of When Calls the Heart, Clara and Jesse had entertained the idea of having an outdoor wedding. But when the wedding arrived, their ceremony ended up taking place indoors. According to Kami, from Hallmarkies Podcast, that episode was filmed in November. This begs the question; if the creative team behind the show knew it would be too cold to film any outdoor events, why would they mention the idea of an outdoor wedding in the first place? In the 2020s, it would be nice to see Hallmark stick to their word more often. Broken promises lead to broken trust with the viewers, which is not good for any business.

5. An Adoption Ever After Segment During the Seasonal Line-Up Preview Specials

When Larissa Wohl first joined Alison Sweeney in 2019’s “Valentine’s Day & Adoption Ever After Preview Special”, the program was used to not only promote Hallmark Channel’s Valentine themed movies, but also that year’s Cat Bowl, Kitten Bowl, and American Rescue Dog Show. At the time, the cross-promotion made sense. But as Larissa kept appearing in Hallmark’s other seasonal line-up preview specials, as well as the Crossword Mysteries & Friends Preview Special, she ended up overstaying her welcome. Instead of promoting a worthy cause, it felt like she was interrupting the regularly scheduled program to host an infomercial about homeless pets. Most people can get behind the idea of raising awareness for shelter animals. However, using the same tactics over and over again gets repetitive and runs the risk of turning away potential supporters.  I don’t know if Hallmark has any plans to air preview specials for the various seasonal line-ups in the 2020s. If they do, I hope they think twice before adding the Adoption Ever After segments to the specials.

Heart shaped balloons image created by Katemangostar at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by katemangostar – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.
6. Hallmark’s Excessive Obsession with Christmas

Hallmark loves Christmas; I get it. But is it really necessary for them to do the following?

  • Airing both Christmas line-ups for almost three months
  • Showing Christmas movies on three networks throughout the year
  • Creating over twenty movies between two channels
  • Devoting an entire month to Christmas in July

In my opinion, the answer is absolutely not, as there is a fine line between loving something and going overboard. Because of Hallmark’s excessive obsession with the holiday, they are actually doing more harm than good to their line-ups. In 2019 and 2020, the “Countdown to Christmas” and “Miracles of Christmas” line-ups received less viewership than in years prior. Hallmark’s decision to make more Christmas movies year after year prevents their films from becoming beloved classics. Movies like The Christmas Card, A Boyfriend for Christmas, and The Nine Lives of Christmas were able to achieve long term success because they premiered in years where Christmas line-ups were smaller, allowing these projects to stand out. As I’ve said before on 18 Cinema Lane, Hallmark needs to pull back the reigns on their approach to Christmas. Give Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries ten movies each, as it would challenge each creative team to create something new and unexpected. Save Christmas films for a week in July and for a month and a half toward the end of the year. Once upon a time, Hallmark’s Christmas line-ups were anticipated events. Now, it has become run of the mill and one of the only things Hallmark cares about.

7. Movie Premiere Twitter Parties

For those of you unfamiliar with this concept, Twitter parties take place for the premiere of new Hallmark programs and movies. Let’s use the upcoming movie Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: How to Con a Con as an example. Before the film appears on television for the first time, someone directly connected with the project, either the director, producer, or stars, will encourage viewers to send tweets during the movie. There may even be pop up advertisements for the Twitter party while other films or shows are on T.V. When Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: How to Con a Con airs on March 14th, viewers can tweet about their thoughts on the film, share their theories with other viewers, and have brief conversations with the stars. Personally, I never participated in these Twitter parties because I wanted to give my undivided attention to the film I was watching. The tweets from the Twitter parties are laced with spoilers, which means I have to avoid Twitter after a new movie or television show episode has premiered. From what I remember, Bill Abbott was a big advocate for this kind of interaction with the customers. But in 2020, Bill stepped down as President of Hallmark’s entertainment division. Also, Twitter isn’t as popular of a social media platform as it was five or ten years ago. With all these factors, it makes me wonder why Hallmark would still promote Twitter parties?

8. Giving Movies Unnecessary Hype

I haven’t seen this happen often on Hallmark networks. However, I have seen it happen enough to know that Hallmark needs to discontinue the practice. The two examples I’ll use for this point are 2014’s Northpole and 2019’s Bottled with Love. Before Northpole premiered, it seemed like news about the film was inescapable. Commercials would air constantly, reminding viewers of what they already knew. Even products directly associated with the film, like the North Pole Communicator, were sold at Hallmark stores. Even though the film received a large viewership number and a sequel, the movie has become forgotten. As the years go on, it is rarely featured in Hallmark’s Christmas schedules. As I mentioned in my review for Bottled with Love, Hallmark chose to overhype this film by proclaiming it was “the best movie you’ll see all year”. But when the movie premiered, it was only a “flash in the pan”. Its viewership numbers were fine, but nothing spectacular. I shared the same thoughts on the film itself. What Northpole and Bottled with Love have in common is how Hallmark overhyped these movies so much, they prevented them from being memorable in the long run. I’m hoping this was just a phase within Hallmark’s lifespan.

9. Launching Television Shows from Movies

Since Cedar Cove became Hallmark’s first scripted television show, Hallmark Channel has had three shows that originally started as a movie or a series of movies: When Calls the Heart, Good Witch, and Signed, Sealed, Delivered. But the only one that has found continued success is When Calls the Heart. While Good Witch has received more than five seasons, its overall quality has dropped since season three, as I’ve mentioned before on my blog. Meanwhile, Signed, Sealed, Delivered was converted into a movie series after the show’s first season and moved to Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. This isn’t a good track record for Hallmark. Instead, they should create shows based on new ideas or well-liked books that are overshadowed by more popular titles.

10. Hallmark’s Summer and Winter TCA Events

Twice a year, Hallmark partners with the Television Critics Association to host a special event where they announce upcoming media related projects. Back in 2018, I wrote a Word on the Street story about announcements made at Hallmark’s Summer TCA Event. Recently, it seems like Hallmark makes their more interesting announcements before or after these events. At each TCA event, announcements consist of projects most fans already knew about. Because of this and the fact that fewer social gatherings are taking place because of the Coronavirus, I question why Hallmark still hosts these events? I wish Hallmark would use those finances, time, and resources toward something more productive.

Hallmark’s Summer TCA Event poster created by Crown Media Family Networks and Hallmark Channel. Image found at https://www.crownmediapress.com/Shows/PRShowDetail?SiteID=142&FeedBoxID=845&NodeID=302&ShowType=&ShowTitle=2018+Summer+TCA. 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

The Top 10 Worst Clichés from Hallmark Movies

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.

Unhappy woman holding trash with disgusting smell
Taking out the trash photo created by Katemangostar at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/unhappy-woman-holding-trash-with-disgusting-smell_1305783.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/person”>Person image created by Katemangostar – Freepik.com</a>. Image found on freepik.com.

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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.

Aurora Teagarden 11 poster
Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: An Inheritance to Die For poster created by Hallmark Movies & Mysteries and Crown Media Family Networks. Image found at https://www.crownmediapress.com/Shows/PRShowDetail?SiteID=143&FeedBoxID=845&NodeID=307&ShowType=&ShowTitle=Aurora+Teagarden+Mysteries+An+Inheritance+to+Die+For.

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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.

Royally Ever After poster
Royally Ever After poster created by Crown Media Family Networks and Hallmark Channel. Image found at https://www.crownmediapress.com/Shows/PRShowDetail?SiteID=142&FeedBoxID=845&NodeID=302&ShowType=&ShowTitle=Royally%20Ever%20After&IsSeries=False.

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!

Sally Silverscreen