The weeks preceding Christmas mark the anticipation of holiday spirit, the warmth of the fireplace, and family gatherings with an array of foods and awkward conversations. The festive mood seems to unite everyone. One of the things that adds even more excitement to the festive anticipation is Christmas movies. There is one genre that is most prevalent during the Christmas season. Holiday-themed romantic comedies are often deemed “cheezy” by many, yet still greatly enjoyed by most.
Its history dates back to 1946, when “It’s a Wonderful Life” came out. Since then, this genre has grown to become a dedicated niche in the entertainment industry, Christmas-themed romantic comedies. Often narrating the same story of love, heartbreak, and magic; they are now almost conventionally produced by major streaming services and media companies.
Hallmark, a television company that for many is a synonym for Christmas Rom-Coms, aired more than 300 titles between 2009 and 2021, Forbes reports. Rom-Coms are expected and welcomed by audiences every holiday season. The success of this genre is long established, and data proves it.
According to theWrap, almost 50% of Netflix subscribers watched at least one of the streaming service’s original holiday films during the 2019 holiday season. Most of them were romantic comedies.
In the week of Nov. 14, Netflix reported that “Falling For Christmas,” one of its newest holiday films was the most-viewed title globally, and was listed within the top 10 in 93 countries.
Rom-Coms are often subject to criticism due to their basic, unoriginal plots.
“They are obviously recycled storylines,” Film Study teacher Kimberly Hilliard said. “They have the same formulaic layout to them, which is also what makes them unoriginal, and yet we still love them, it seems, as a society.”
But aren’t the overused, familiar plots, with always predictable and happy endings, what make rom-coms so appreciated and cozy?
Holiday movies are also often flawed because they have a limited representation of diversity. Fortunately, many platforms started casting more characters who drift away from the typical “White people’s Christmas” model. They are now exploring more inclusive storylines, celebrating interracial, queer, and other couples and their relationships.
Despite its banal character, there is, however, some artistic value to this genre. Hilliard outlined an otherwise unpopular creative choice prevalent in many Christmas rom-coms.
“I do like magical realism, I think it’s a technique that’s not often explored in our literature that we study at school, and a lot of Christmas holiday films run with that concept,” Hilliard said. “[It] is a very powerful technique that we don’t often see in other genres, so it’s really special at this time of the year when it does get to be represented.”
Like it or not, Christmas Rom-coms have become an essential part of the holiday spirit. And though often overlooked due to their unoriginal storylines, these films still remain the prime-time programs for many households during the holiday time. When it comes to Christmas spirit, however, it really comes down to being with loved ones, and gathering in anticipation of something magical. And if Christmas rom-coms are yet another reason to do so, there is nothing wrong with indulging in such movie, or two, or a few.