We here at Rebellious Magazine try not to pan anything. Why put the energy into dragging something when we can happily recommend to you books, music, and arts and culture that we love or we’re excited about? Good vibes only, all the way. But I feel like it’s my duty as a Gen X lesbian to set the record gay about Happiest Season as a joyful or affirming LGBTQ+ movie.
Long story short: Happiest Season is a Hulu original movie co-written and directed by Clea Duvall (But I’m a Cheerleader), starring Kristen Stewart and Mackenzie Davis, with a supporting cast that includes Mary Steenburgen, Vincent Garber, and oh yay, Dan Levy. For more details about the plot (girl meets girl, girl loses girl . . .), check out the trailer below.
A lesbian Hallmark-inspired Christmas movie? Squeee. What could go wrong?
Three of us Gen X lesbians—A, S, and K (that’s me)—got together over Hulu Watch Party, and here’s what we had to say during and afterward. Yes, spoilers. No, don’t bother. Yes, save yourself.
K: Is this supposed to be a lesbian Birdcage?
A: Oh God.
S: Oh no.
During the movie:
Number of times one of us typed the word RUN in the chat: 20+
A: Girl, get some self-respect and get out of there.
K: And get a better dye job while you’re at it.
A: Terrible split ends.
K: Add a deep conditioner. A hot oil treatment. You earned it.
All of us: Can she just end up with Riley, instead?
After the movie:
K (whose idea this fiasco was): I’m so sorry, y’all. I thought it was just gonna be saccharine-sugar-cotton-candy bad.
A: Same! That was awful on so many levels. Hetero versions are equally bad, but I expected more from this. That was my first mistake. The stereotypes and tropes were so on the nose and annoying, but what I really objected to was the reinforcement of really bad emotional bullsh*t in a relationship. It was disturbing. There were moments of legit emotional abuse among all of the characters that were not resolved or addressed in any healing kind of way. They just glossed it over and played Happy Family. The normalizing of bad relationship sh*t was concerning for me. I don’t want that for gay people. Straight people have it already, no thank you.
S: There were better movies made in the ’30s, ’40s, and ’50s about gay people. It’s gruesome all the way around. It’s like someone set out to make a gay Hallmark movie, and they not only missed the bullseye, they missed the target and killed a gay person.
A: There was no joy or affection or actual care demonstrated between any of those characters until the very end, and then it felt fake as f*ck.
K: And even then, it was on Instagram.
S: It’s just poorly written, directed, and acted.
A: All of those characters were so grossly exaggerated. And: it wasn’t funny.
S: Back to the Birdcage, that still managed to be way less offensive than the characters in this movie. The Birdcage had actual humanity, with human beings experiencing laughter, humor and anger. These actors were all phoning it in.
K: And the Birdcage set up this beautiful, super gay, super happy life they had in Miami. This movie had like five minutes of setup, and Kristen Stewart fell off of a roof during it.
A: What really sticks in my craw—and that’s a real hillbilly thing to say—is that the dishonesty in that relationship made it impossible for there to be a happy ending. She flat-out lied. That dishonesty really bothers me, and it made their relationship prior to this suspect.
S: There wasn’t a single character in this movie to like.
A: I kept wanting to like Jane (Mary Holland) a little bit, but I just couldn’t.
S: I’m only disappointed that I spent that time with you two watching that movie.
A: I watched some other straight Hulu Christmas movie with performative diversity, total feminism lite, where everyone had to have a boyfriend at the end, the town bully got put in her place, everything ended perfect, and I felt less bad after watching that than I do watching this. I knew it was intentionally cheesy and stupid; this movie just ended up making me mad.
S: That, by the way, was Grove City, PA, where my mum’s mum and I would go shopping in town when I was a kid.
A: Oh, great, the good people of Grove City, PA, are gonna think gay people are anything like anyone in this movie.
S: The three gay people in Grove City are now digging into their closets.
A: Building a bunker in their yards.
K: Also, what message are we sending with the subplots? The terrible biracial marriage, the creepy twins? What are we saying here?
A: And was there some joke that people 30 years younger than me get that I don’t get? In general, what is the takeaway? What is the audience supposed to walk away feeling or knowing from this show?
S: Never watch a movie by this team again. And cancel your Hulu subscription.
To end on a positive note—and to cleanse our palates—here are some lesbian movies that actually bring us joy (yes, we’re aware many of these were made a looooong time ago):
- But I’m a Cheerleader (see above)
- Carol (there are even some Christmas scenes)
- Go Fish (set in Chicago!)
- The Incredibly True Adventure of Two Girls in Love (Tina from the L Word before there was an L Word)
- Bound (we’re counting this one, don’t at me)
- The Crash Pad Series (NSFW)