Who Does “Bad” Christmas Movies Better


Hallmark and Netflix both pride themselves on their original Christmas content, but only one succeeds at making them so-bad-they’re-good.

With the season of heartwarming holiday stories in full swing across several channels and apps, it begs the question: is Hallmark or Netflix better at making “bad” Christmas films? While Hallmark has 20 years of experience ringing in the most wonderful time of the year, Netflix only began releasing Hallmark-esque Christmas movies back in 2017. Hallmark’s brand has captured the innocence and magic of the holiday season in more than 100 original Christmas films, while Netflix’s material has been significantly less effective.

Hallmark Christmas movies are low budget escapes into festive landscapes, don’t often feature well-known actors, and usually follow the same basic plot: a big-city girl moves to or visits a quaint town during Christmas and falls in love with a small-town boy, single father, or prince. Hallmark viewers crave the cheesy predictability of these tropes, however banal they may become over time. This is partly why Netflix took this formula and applied it in such films as A Christmas Prince, Operation Christmas Drop, The Knight Before Christmas, and The Holiday Calendar, among others.

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Related: Netflix Has a Christmas Cinematic Universe: How It All Connects

Apart from the same merry sets and syrupy scripts, Hallmark and Netflix’s Christmas movies both share one-dimensional characters largely defined by their jobs and whether or not they like celebrating Christmas. Most often, the female leads are career-driven women who learn to love Christmas through the men they’re falling for, i.e. Erica in Operation Christmas Drop, Abby in The Holiday Calendar, or Christina in My Christmas Dream. Likewise, with Hallmark’s casting of Christmas powerhouses Lacey Chabert (Mean Girls) and Danica McKellar (The Wonder Years) in several Christmas films, two of Netflix’s originals have featured the same actresses, Kat Graham (The Vampire Diaries) and Vanessa Hudgens (The Knight Before Christmas), in different roles.

Conversely, Netflix distinguishes itself in a very noticeable way from Hallmark. Netflix’s propensity to give Christmas movies like The Princess Switch and A Christmas Prince sequels and trilogies diminish the charm of the original. Each sequel feels like a laughable, too-long rehash of the first film, features wildly convoluted subplots that slow the pace of the story, and adds unnecessary drama. In the A Christmas Prince franchise, for instance, Amber, the American journalist turned Aldovian queen, finds out Prince Richard is adopted in the first movie, discovers issues with the royal finances in the second, and solves the case of a missing peace treaty in the third installment.

Hallmark Christmas films work so well as stand-alone features because they tell a sweet, concise, and easy-to-follow story about love. The main conflict in many of Hallmark’s movies tends to be the deadbeat boyfriend with whom the female protagonist must contend, i.e. Faith in The Christmas Card. Hallmark viewers don’t expect tedious subplots involving bizarre plot twists. Simple storylines like November Christmas, which follows a town rallying around a child with cancer, may lean a little too heavily into the healing power of love idea, but it’s what audiences enjoy the most.

Even though Netflix’s Christmas movies have higher production values and greater diversity in their casts, Hallmark still reigns supreme in better “bad” Christmas movies. It’s perfected the art of corny seasonal content and gifting viewers warm and cozy holiday feelings. Whether Netflix will ever match Hallmark‘s level of Christmas celebration remains to be seen.

Next: The 25 Best Films on Netflix Right Now

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Updated: November 22, 2020 — 1:45 am

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