Film Corner: Happiest Season

Note: I usually time-delay Patreon posts, but I wanted this one to go up everywhere as quickly as possible so folks can make an informed decision about whether to watch this imho-harmful movie.

Ana: So @VespertilioGem and I are going to watch this HAPPIEST SEASON movie that has so profoundly polarized my mentions. It's on Hulu. The splash-screen image is alarming. KStew looks amazing, of course, but Mackenzie Davis looks- what did they do to her? She always looks so pretty but they've got her in, like, a bad wig? or something?

Mackenzie is my co-pilot because TERMINATOR: SAPPHICS was the first movie I ever took Kissmate to see and we both audibly *gasped* in theaters when she started throwing rebar around. (TERMINATOR: DARK FATE is free to watch on Amazon Prime and it is so good, seriously, trust me on this.)

Abby (KStew) and Harper (MackD) are part of a Christmas tour browsing dolled-up houses, which is my personal version of hell. Abby seems to agree with me! Harper is gaga over Christmas while Abby is not, and I realize you can't define a couple by one snapshot of their day but these two don't seem like a very good match for each other. Harper coaxes / commands Abby up onto a roof (to see the ~Christmas lights~) and Abby falls off and narrowly avoids breaking a limb, which feels like a metaphor for things yet to come.

Harper doesn't like that Abby is going to be "alone" for the holidays. Now, uh. I spent Christmases "alone" for years because my ex went up to see his kids (and I couldn't travel for disability reasons) and FOR ME, it was great. I loved it. Quiet, movies, food. It was pleasant, you know, to walk around naked and eat whenever I wanted to without having to plan dinners for The Family. So if Abby is like me, and she says she is, I don't really love this whole... "I pity you being alone on Xmas" motivation? They run around the neighborhood and kiss and it's sweet and so good. Harper asks Abby to come spend Christmas with her family. "I want to wake up with you on Christmas morning," she gasps.

THEIR APARTMENT IS SO CUTE. Abby is excited about the trip and, in the light of morning, Harper offers to let her back out. "No, I genuinely want to go. I get to meet the people who made my favorite person!" Abby picks up an engagement ring with her friend John (who is perfect and we love him) and John objects that trapping Harper in a box of heteronormativity is Not Good. they talked about marriage?  "Was this written by a cishet person?" Kissmate asks. I answer: "I don't THINK it was?" because I thought I heard otherwise, but like. Like. This feels very cishet???

I can believe in a cishet guy buying a ring without talking to his girlfriend first because That's What You're Supposed To Do, but in my experience us queers tend to talk about this stuff? Esp. re: health insurance, but also just re: What Does My Happiness Look Like? Abby: "She is my person and I really want everyone to know that." She wants to ask Harper's dad for his blessing and propose on Xmas morning. Our mouths are hanging open in shock.

Here is my problem: This is a cishet guy being played by KStew! The girls haven't talked about marriage, they haven't talked about their families and whether they're out to them. KStew seems blissfully unaware that Harper's Dad will not react well to this plan. KStew is apparently an orphan--Dead Parents have been mentioned--but it still seems bizarrely implausible that Harper has never, ever mentioned that she's not out to her parents. That's- How do you even talk about your PAST without that coming up?

Like, I am thinking back to all my conversations with Kissmate about my folks and "they do not accept queer people and that has affected me" is a thread that runs over and through everything. Disclaimer that I am not judging anyone else's relationship if you've managed to be Harper in this scenario, it's just that FOR ME this situation seems impossible because I don't know how to discuss my family (for a year!) with a partner without...all this.

Cut to Harper and Abby in the car. Abby is excited and Harper looks nervous. "Do you remember this summer when I came out to my parents and told them we were together?" Oh no. Harper lied to Abby. Oh my god, I am hyperventilating. OKAY, so it's not that KStew is playing a cishet guy, it's that KStew is playing an abuse victim who has been egregiously lied to by her lover. SORRY. I DIDN'T REALIZE THAT VERY IMPORTANT DETAIL. In everything I heard about this movie, I assumed Harper just hadn't told Abby she wasn't out to her parents! I missed that Harper has been lying and spun a big lie about being out AND telling her parents about Abby AND that the parents "took it really well".

Harper argues that she can't tell the parents now because her dad is running for mayor and they're trying to impress a donor, but like... I wish to go back to the part where Harper *told Abby* that her parents knew about Abby and were good with it all! Abby asks why Harper's parents don't think it's weird she's bringing her "roommate" home for Christmas. Harper: "I told them you had nowhere else to go because your parents are no longer with us." *jaw drop*

Abby says she's not going. Harper pressures her to come so they "fall in love with you" and it'll "make it so much easier when I do tell them". It's really emotionally manipulative. Harper then asks Abby not to tell the parents that SHE (Abby) is gay. Oh my god. Oh my god. This relationship is full of bees.

The family calls Abby "Harper's orphan friend" and make over her while she's uncomfortable with the attention. Jane, Harper's younger sister, is treated like the ugly duckling while Harper is the golden child. I just want to be very clear that the parents are clearly hugely bigoted against queer people and that's why Harper asked Abby to not mention that she (Abby) is queer. She told her that IN THE DRIVEWAY.

KStew is allowed to talk again and bless her because she's carrying the comedy part of this "romcom"; when asked if she has a boyfriend she stammers that she "has had them. Not too many. An appropriate amount." Laughing at that line, I suddenly realize it's the first time I've smiled in almost ten minutes and my shoulders are up around my ears. Tipper/Mom tries to set Harper up with her high school boyfriend Conner. Mom announces that Abby will be sleeping apart from Harper because "I would never ask two grown women to share the same bed!!"

I... I feel like romantic comedies are supposed to be romantic and, ideally, funny.

Tipper/Mom ambushes Harper at dinner with her high school boyfriend Connor. Abby is introduced as "orphan". (We're going to repeat this joke until it becomes funny, I guess!!) Jane suffers persistent casual abuse that is over-the-top villainous. (She used to suffer night terrors and the family didn't care; they stuffed her down in the basement so no one had to hear her; they took the lock off her door because she feared her parents would lock her in and leave her to die; etc. FUN STUFF.)

Coming out of the bathroom, Harper and Abby run into Harper's ex-girlfriend Riley, who is also at the restaurant with *her* parents. Harper's parents talk bigotedly at the table about Riley's "lifestyle choice" and how disappointed Riley's parents must be over their queer daughter.

Abby calls John who rightfully points out that this entire situation is fucked up garbage and she should leave. John is right. Abby does not leave. She awakes to two small children staring at her as she sleeps. Sloane, their mother, is the oldest daughter and she is super fucking rude and a picture of happy heteronormativity, I guess. Abby is ignored at breakfast and made to feel like a third wheel.

Dad tells Sloane to just "bring your beautiful family tonight and show them off" which feels... um. Husband Eric is Black and it feels like Dad sees son-and-law and the grandkids as some kind of trophy for his political career. Jane is very autistic coded. I think I would like it more if they weren't abusing her for it? Harper and Sloan have intense sibling rivalry. That part is standard "Yearly Christmas Family Movie" about coming home, yup, but it feels weirdly out of place here, like it's been crowbarred in because the trope is supposed to be here.

Things that I feel could make me like this movie more:

- Jane. The abuse of her for being autistic-coded isn't funny! It's just hurtful.

- Harper. If she seemed to feel more miserable about all this, I think I'd be more sympathetic to her? This movie is making me think of GET OUT because we watched it a couple months ago, and the daughter in that seemed (/pretended) to be more bothered by her parents' bigotry than Harper is! And this is bigotry that ostensibly *affects* Harper! It feels like Mackenzie is sleep-walking through this movie, and it kinda makes her character seem like a terrible person because she doesn't really seem to *get* why and how all this is hurting her girlfriend. I know that kind of standard for the formula of "guy goes home to girlfriend's parents house for Xmas" but usually I assume THOSE women are awful because they're written by cishet men. Harper....was not.

The weird thing is that this all could've been made better? Like, Harper could've *thought* that Abby knew she wasn't out. I thought that was why Abby had the orphan backstory, actually; a mismatch of understanding re: parental bigotry. But...nope! She's an orphan so we can make orphan jokes and that's literally all it's for.

At the big dinner to impress a political donor that night, Abby is left alone to haunt the open bar. Sloane interrogates Abby about moving into Harper's one-bedroom apartment in a manner that seems ominous. (Abby stammers that they've converted the pantry into a second bedroom.)

...I love John and we would die for him. I want an entire movie that's just John and Abby.

Abby tries to sneak up to Harper's room and ends up in a utility closet with a frightened roomba and it's actually funny. These funny moments are so distressingly rare in this romantic comedy. Harper ends up in Abby's room and they wake up in bed together. (KStew explained her presence in the utility closet as sleepwalking. Tipper/Mom: "I once took too many Ambien, fell asleep, and ordered a racehorse online." LOL.)

It occurs to me that the problem with trying to do this as a standard "Meet The Parents" holiday movie is that bigotry is different from "my mom doesn't want us to sleep together because sex makes her nervous". Anyway, the kids see Harper behind the door in Abby's room. Abby doesn't have a white elephant gift for tonight's party, so she and Sloane have to go shopping.

I have a lot of emotions about the Creepy Twins being biracial Black kids? Oh, and now they're putting mall merchandise in Abby's purse. Uhhh. ...and they did it on purpose to frame her because they're grinning evilly at the mall cops stopping Abby when she sets off the alarms. Cool. That's, uh, racist. I feel?

Harper un-invites Abby from tonight's dinner because of the "theft". I would dump her so fast and be on the first bus home. Fuck Harper. She says she knows Abby didn't do it, but that she just can't come to tonight's dinner and FOR REALS, I would be moving out on the basis of that alone. Abby walks the town alone and runs into Riley. Both of them look on the verge of tears, which is a very queer mood when visiting family. Abby admits that she needs a drink and Riley takes her to a drag bar and Abby tells her about the mall experience and they laugh.

Abby and Riley dance around the terrifying subject of Harper. Riley confesses that she and Harper were best friends growing up and then girlfriends. When a classmate found a love note between them, Harper accused Riley of being a gay stalker. *JAW DROP* I'm actually crying, I'm so sorry. I'm, like, weirdly upset at seeing Mackenzie Davis (perfect angel) in this horrible, abusive role? It's fucking me up really badly. This is like the worst thing you can do to a queer person? Out them, break up with them, and call them your stalker ALL AT ONCE. What the fuck. What the fuck. What the fuck.

"But that was a long time ago", Riley says even as she comforts Harper's newest girlfriend. Riley is a good person? She's out here cheering up Abby and I just? Can Abby and Harper get together? Please? Harper texts Abby and she leaves the warm comfort of the drag bar to the cold embrace of the cishetero bar where Conner continues to hang on Harper and hit on her. Abby says she's tired and Harper says she wants to stay here longer with Conner.

WHY DOES HARPER EVEN WANT TO STAY HERE? It's obviously here to create conflict but why?? What comfort does she get from this guy continually hitting on her, and these friends of hers who need her to perform straightness around them?? The problem here isn't that Harper isn't out--lots of us aren't out!--but rather she seems to still be in that headspace of still *wanting* to be cishet so much that it's hard to understand how she and Abby even moved in together.

I guess the pressures of being back home and falling back into a role? But, like? When I'm around the family for Christmas, I am *constantly* volunteering to run errands in order to GET AWAY FROM THEM because it's painful to perform that constant cishetero flesh-suit that they demand. Harper doesn't find the cishet suit painful; she seems to outright revel in it. And that's her right, just to be clear! But this can't end with her and Abby together and engaged because she (Harper) is just not emotionally ready for that at this point.

Abby is clearly Not Okay as she leaves alone. Harper runs back to hang on Conner's arm. Abby goes to bed alone, her "I'm home safe" texts unanswered by Harper. Then Abby wakes up to a terse "Home safe. Goodnight" text from Harper at 2am. Abby goes up to check on her and Harper is hostile and catty in the face of her concerned girlfriend. "I didn't know I had a curfew." God, Harper is just the worst and it's really messing with me. She was the one who set the expectation of texting--she demanded Abby text her when she got home--then she broke that expectation and acts like Abby was weird to be concerned when that happened.

Watching her treat Abby this way is... it's really profoundly gaslighting, and the fact that she doesn't seem to be aware of it and is just doing it because she's a selfish and deeply self-involved person doesn't make it better? Abby tells Harper off and checks her phone for a ride home. I scream, "YES." But it's a thousand dollars for a ride home. Fuck. Crying, Abby calls John and asks if she should stick it out for two days. We are asking ourselves the same question about the remaining 40 minutes.


Abby goes back to the house where Tipper/Mom yells at her and accuses her of stealing her jewelry. She's like a parody of a politician's wife; she has the intensity, yes, but no self-control. Like, my mom is this intense but she would DIE before she yelled at a house-guest like that. There are RULES to hostess-ing and those rules must NEVER be breached.

Harper abandons Abby at the party (AGAIN) (how many parties are in this movie? at least three??) and Abby ends up talking with Riley, and they're cute and I love them. Riley is sympathetic and gentle and good. Conner shows up and Harper lights up again, all smiles. Abby confesses to Riley that she was going to ask Harper to marry her tomorrow. Riley puts her hand on Abby's shoulder and says she'll get her a "real drink". OH MY GOD, JOHN BURSTS IN. HE DROVE HERE TO SAVE HER?!?! JOHN. JOHN. I WOULD DIE FOR YOU, JOHN.

John introduces himself as Abby's "heterosexual ex-boyfriend" here to claim her back. I would die for him. I would die for him. John. John. I would die for you. Abby looks to Harper for a solution. Harper is touching Conner's waist. (!!) Abby walks over to briefly tell Harper "it's over, I'm done" and walks out. We are SCREAMING for joy. YES. YES. YES. Harper runs down to the basement where Abby is getting her bag and the two of them have it out. Abby: "You not telling your parents about us is a choice YOU made." YES. THANK YOU.

Harper. I hate her so much. Harper explains that love wasn't free in her house, that you had to earn it. SOUNDS FAMILIAR. She says she's afraid to tell her parents because she'll lose them. YEPPERS. I'm in that same position, okay? Harper's situation is my situation. But what you DON'T do is you don't force the person you love into a closet for you and then starve them with neglect. No. You tell them the situation upfront and you give them the option to NOT PARTICIPATE in the closet bullshit. And if they decide they want to come in order to help you, then you nurture them as much as you can in that shitty, shitty situation.

We're supposed to feel sorry for Harper because of her parents' bigotry, but instead I hate her because even knowing how painful the closet is, she put Abby through all this. There were SO MANY WAYS that Harper could have made this situation more comfortable for Abby. I can think of hundreds of things she could've done. Instead, weirdly, inexplicably, she spent the entire holiday with her straight friends and ex-boyfriend.

Hell, even just the laundry list of errands Harper had to run with Jane all day before the party? "Jane, why don't you stay home? Abby and I got this." It's SO EASY to not totally neglect someone you love!! All she had to do was carve out a few key minutes here and there to make Abby feel special and not completely used. Harper had time for a booty-call but couldn't tap out a few "I love you so much, babe" texts? Too bad, super sad, you don't deserve your girlfriend. Them's the rules, I don't make them.

Sloane catches Abby and Harper together, then Harper learns Sloane has a secret too. (Her husband and she are in an open relationship? I think? EDITOR'S NOTE: No, the secret is that Sloane and her husband are planning to divorce.) Sloane and Harper start wrestling, which makes very little sense. This seems like an easy solution in a Mutually Assured Destruction sense? You both agree not to out the other to Mom and Dad, no? But wacky Christmas shenanigans demand we instead have a wrestling match.

 Moreover: I have a lot of feelings about the Black man not being able to have self-control during a party and instead sneaking up to the utility closet to make-out with the only woman of color in the movie. (A woman whose only role so far has been to be inexplicably chilly to Abby the protagonist.) This movie's treatment of its non-white characters is pretty garbage, I feel.

Jane experiences more "hilarious" abuse as Sloane and Harper tumble into the party area. Sloane begins to yell and spitefully outs Harper as a lesbian and Abby as her girlfriend in front of the party. Tearful, Harper immediately denies it. "She's lying! I'm not a lesbian!" Abby walks quietly out the door. Riley shakes her head sadly. Enraged, Harper destroys Jane's genuinely beautiful painting. Welp, if she wasn't already dead to us, she would be now. Jane tells her sisters how garbage they are.

(A correction: I am informed that Sloane's secret is that she and her husband are getting a divorce, NOT that they have an open relationship.)

Abby and John walk in the cold and John says good things because John is good. He and Abby swap coming out stories and he points out that Harper's actions aren't Abby's fault or a reflection on her. ....okay, but I feel like he's using this moment to defend Harper "not being ready" and that's not- the problem isn't that Harper isn't ready, the problem is that Harper does abusive cruel things and blames her choices on not-being-out. I want to repeat that: Harper's problem isn't that she's closeted. People come out at their own pace. Some of us never come out. That's okay. No, Harper's "problem" is that she's using her closet as an excuse to abuse Abby. That's NOT okay.

Riley comforts Harper, which makes her a better person than I am because (AGAIN) Harper called her a lesbian stalker and outed her to everyone they knew. And almost pulled the same card five minutes ago with Abby. After being berated by their parents, Harper tells them she's gay and in love with Abby. Abby cries and looks like she's been hit by a whole convoy of trucks, which really drains the scene of any sweetness because, I mean, LOOK at how much you hurt Abby.

Sloane backs Harper and admits she's getting a divorce and she's done trying to earn their love. Abby announces she's going to go. Harper tells her not to go. "But, I did it!" she announces proudly. Like coming out makes all the hurt go away? Abby, to her credit, tells Harper that it's too late and seriously she is leaving. YES. Ride into the sunset with John and Riley. Go to the drag bar.

Tipper/Mom confronts Dad and points out that they're all miserable and maybe that's bad and what if they were to stop being bigots?? I guess it's the sort of scene I'd like my parents to HEAR, but these characters haven't really EARNED it, if that makes sense. Like, I'd play it for them and hope they learned something, but in terms of satisfying narrative arcs "would we be happier if we weren't bigots, maybe?" isn't really something you can just pull out of a hat at the end like a rabbit in a magic trick.

I hate that I feel like, no matter how I feel about this movie, I have to play it on repeat (and mute) for 6 weeks so that Hulu will make another lesbian movie.

Mom comes down and tells the girls that Dad "needs a little time" and they all smile angelically at the sudden love they all feel because everything is fixed forever or something. Harper drives to the gas station where John and Abby are buying comfort junk food for the trip home. (The "I tracked your phone" joke is less funny coming from Harper, an abuser, than from John.) Harper apologizes profusely.

Abby asks "what about your parents" and Harper says she doesn't care what they think and NO NO NO this is not how you write the scene!?!?!?!?!?!!?!??!?!?!?!? She obviously DOES care because she WAITED AT THE HOUSE for Mom's loving approval BEFORE she got in the car to find Abby!!!! They mixed up the scene-order here and it completely undercuts the entire damn message!! If she genuinely doesn't care about what her parents think, she should've been on Abby's heels the moment the door closed, NOT two hours later after Mom has announced that Dad will come around in a few days. John mouths "Do it" at Abby even though John would never. I am sorry, John.

On Christmas morning, the children admit that they framed Abby for theft. Dad comes down and everyone reassures him that they totes love him and don't mind that he was an abusive bigot who forced them to compete for his attention. Yay. Everyone hugs and smiles and then wordlessly talks happily while "Silent Night" plays and I can't even imagine what they could be talking about because these are miserable people who hate each other.

The donor calls and says she'll back Ted's campaign if Harper can "adopt a Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy". Ted tells her "it's not going to work out" and it's supposed to be supportive, but it....kind of reads like he thinks his daughter can't closet well enough for this new plan to even have a chance. I'm just saying.

One year later, Jane's book is published. Wrote, edited, published, and bestseller in one year. Okay then, lol, sure. Harper wears Abby's ring. They go to a theater together with Mom and Dad. I know this is supposed to be a happy ending, but it just doesn't work together because at no point did we see Harper and Abby happy together? or any chemistry at all? It's...flat. Oh god, and Ted won his mayor campaign and presumably is passing anti-queer legislation because all signs pointed to him being some flavor of Republican, right? So that's FUN.

That was a beating. I thought I'd like the movie but have a few nitpicks! I didn't expect it to be a massively abusive relationship presented as basically healthy because of the closet. And there were parts I found deeply triggering that I did not feel were adequately resolved at all. My happy ending involves Abby and Riley running off together and Harper can sort her situation out with a therapist.

At the very least, I feel that an Abby/Harper ending needed to involve her cutting her family off or at least going low contact. The "one year later" with her going to the movies with them... I hate that. She abused Abby for their approval, and their approval was so important to her that she was willing to abuse Abby in order to get it. She needed to demonstrate the growth necessary to spurn that approval, for me to trust that the abuse will stop.

The more I think about HAPPIEST SEASON, I feel it's relevant that it's protagonist Abby could probably never watch the movie without being hugely triggered. This isn't, like, a "it'll be funny looking back years from now" romcom. If anything, I feel the movie is made for the villains: the movie is what Tipper and Ted would, ideally, watch in order to stop being bigots at their lesbian daughter.

I do understand the difference between writing something for queer people versus for bigots who need to unlearn their bigotry. It's not a terrible goal. Hell, I kinda want my parents to watch the movie in a last ditch effort to make them less terrible. But. BUT. There's something terribly perverse about a "wholesome" Christmas romcom made for queer folks that most queer folks will find deeply triggering because it centers toxic forced heteronormativity SO HARD and with such determination.


Kissmate: Good Evening, Followers! Tonight, as a little treat, I will be #Kissmatewatches-ing a little diddy called "Happiest Season" starring KStew. I've heard good, bad, and ugly about this, so I'm excited to give this a try! And a little worried. Lot worried. A warning to heed: There is homophobia via the family. And it's about surviving them through the holidays. This will be my only tag for this, since it's going to be inescapable.

We get a fun little Christmas song with Christmas card type art telling the story of two women falling in love and moving in together while the credits play. Cute, sweet, like a scrapbook or something. First joke is about a Santa Claus endangering children's lives. Tasteless.

Then Harper and Abby (Davis and KStew respectively) talk about why Abby doesn't like Christmas. And I'm getting flashbacks. "How can you not like the lights and decorations and Christmas trees?" As someone who isn't a huge C-mas person and was forced to watch a ton of C-mas specials, this is a conversation I've seen/had a thousand times too many.

Harper and Abby talk about Christmas and then get in trouble for climbing on top of a roof that's not theirs. A woman yells at them before turning back to her partner dressed in a goofy reindeer outfit and leather cuffs. Is this what people think comedy is now? At least we get cute scenes of them kissing and being a couple. Harper tries to uninvite Abby from family Christmas, but Abby is determined to wake up Christmas morning with her favorite person. Aww!

Abby meets with her gay best friend, John, to get him to pet sit. I like John. She also picks up an engagement ring to give Harper on Christmas. John is unhappy that she's trying to trap Harper in a heteronormative cage and make Harper her property. His words. I like John, but he's 100% the gayest stereotype you could ever make. It's like Will and Grace but made in 2016. For the Millennials.

Harper drops on Abby that she never came out to her parents to the point of lying about the fact she did. And dropped it ON THE WAY THERE. Abby is rightfully pissed. And I'm not liking Harper at all. Abby can do LOTS better. By the way, all we know about Abby is she isn't fond of Christmas because she lost her parents around that time and she likes pets. All we know about Harper is she's a liar and likes Christmas. Nothing else. Very little characterization.

Harper is using the "My Roommate Has Dead Parents" so the family will be cool with Abby coming over. THAT'S FULL FUCKED UP. That's a breach of privacy! So now we meet the family! The movie wants to go scene by scene for each one, so let's go Tweet by Tweet!

Tipper, mother: "going Viral" on Instagram giving a sneak peek into the life of her family. She's clearly the peacekeeper and social busybody.

Jane, younger sister: handy-woman of the house, shit on by the rest of the family, and gets too emotional over things that don't concern her. She's going to be the movie's punching bag, I can read between the lines.

Ted, father: wanting to become mayor, VERY cishet patriarch. Dotes and loves on older sister Harper while keeping younger sister Jane in the "free servant" section of the family.

Sloane, eldest sister: clearly trophy child, not here yet. Was attorney, has twins, now makes gift baskets.

Okay, in the middle of the tour of the house, there's one funny joke where KStew tries to pretend she's had LOTS of boyfriends, but not too many. It's... It's a good joke. The one good joke so far. Abby is forced to sleep in another room separate from Harper, so there goes the "wake up Christmas morning with the love of your life" plan.

The Jane torture is egregious and really awkward. I won't put it all here, but she's the movie's punching bag. Uncomfortably so. I didn't want to be right. I want to hug her and give her therapy.

Conner, Harper's Ex: The boyfriend from high school that the parents really want Harper to get with. Probably because he's so handsome and semi-successful. I got a bet saying he's either gay or some flavor of queer at the end of this movie. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Nope, Conner never gets any sort of character development in terms of who he is or what he wants out of life.)

Tipper secretly asked Conner to join them for dinner to try and play matchmaker. Ew. Also, everyone introduces Abby as "the orphan". Even though that's a word used mostly towards smaller children, not grown-ass adults. It's belittling and annoyingly intimate. Harper has lied about EVERYTHING from her past and her life. Abby isn't as pissed as she should be. It's annoying. Also, lots of secretive "I hate not being able to kiss you" which I've been there. So mood.

Abby calls John about how much Harper is a liar and he is immediately "I knew there was some shady shit". I would ride or die for John, damned be the stereotype-hate.

There. Are creepy twins. Watching Abby sleep. I am not okay with this. They're Sloan's twins, and Sloan is the worst. Rude and icy shoulders. Harper hates her too. Her twins are not acting like kids, and I don't like it? So Sloan married a black man named Eric. He's energetic, good guy. But they have these twins that don't act like kids. And it's not as funny as the movie thinks it is. It's... actually creepy and stupid. And since they're biracial, it makes me uncomfortable.

Sloan and Harper hate each other so much, that they can't help but make everything a competition. Even ice-skating. It's not even done in a funny way. Just extreme. They head to some party where Ted takes Harper away to impress someone. (EDITOR'S NOTE: The "big donor" that he needs for his mayoral campaign to win.) Sloan seems to have ideas that Harper and Abby may be together, but it's all insinuated.

I do notice that Ted is getting his middle child to do all the impressing. Sloan married a black man and Jane is autistic-coded in ways which makes him disregard her (which I hate). There's some serious racism and ableism tacked on alongside the homophobia. And I hate it.

Abby gets a call from John who tries to tell her to just get out already. Riley, Harper's ex, tries to connect with Abby, but Abby is too dense and Riley too polite. There's a bit where Abby tries to go to Harper's room to surprise her, but Harper end up in Abby's room where they have some sexual fun, I think. In a room with no lock and family upstairs. BAD MOVE. They almost get caught, but not yet.

Abby and Sloan get stuck going to the mall so the twins can see Santa. And the twins think its cute to make Abby steal an item by accident. They grin. It's... Why did they have to be biracial? This is uncomfortable. The mall cops are blown out of proportion. And it's not funny. It's back-raising. And now Abby is being thrown out of the dinner because no one ever suspects misunderstandings. And Abby is looking sad and alone. Again. Take a shot, I guess.

Riley meets up with her. AND TAKES HER TO A DRAG BAR I LOVE IT. Riley talks about the past. Harper outed Riley in high school and called Riley a stalker instead of getting them both outed. Because that's what good girlfriends do. I hate Harper. Okay, but I want Riley and Abby to get together? I feel Riley would be way better a partner.

The moment the two are back together, Abby is obviously unhappy but Harper wants to stay because she likes getting drunk with old friends who are painfully cishetero? I hate Harper. I had to look at my husband and basically promise I would never be like Harper. This is NOT a good partner! It's 2 AM and Harper is still flirting with Conner. Why? She's lying to Conner now. He wondered if she was never really truthful to him, and she's lying it up again.

I used to know a Harper. She's either truthful to a fault or lying so deep that you can't see the bottom. She gaslights Abby when Abby was just worried about her. She actively throws other people under the bus so she doesn't get blamed. I'm having emotions. Abby is trying to get out, but a ride is too expensive. John is at a lost too. So Abby hangs out with Riley. And Harper is surprised? And pissed? Fuck her anger.

All of Harper's family thinks Abby is a thief, to the point of the mother accusing Abby of stealing her brooch. The biracial kids and their black father perform for a house of mostly white people. Akwardsville. Population this movie. JOHN HAS COME TO SAVE ABBY!!! RIDE OR DIE! RIDE OR DIE! RIDE OR DIE!

They have a huge blowout fight. Abby is right and Harper is being selfish. "I'm not hiding you, I'm hiding me!" And that means hiding your girlfriend. So yes, you're hiding her. Focus on someone else other than you and your shitty parents please. Harper has been emotionally vacant this whole trip and Abby has every right to walk away.

Sloane walks in on them. While they try to get Sloane to hush, we find Eric in the closet with another woman. And Sloane knew about it. (Really? The black guy gets with the only non-white woman in the movie as an open relationship joke? EW.) The sisters fight. John tries to hetero it up with Conner. The fight travels into the party. Sloane outs Harper and Abby. Harper reaches for her lies. Abby walks out. In anger, Harper destroys Jane's painting. Jane snaps with self-love and anger!

John walks with Abby. She talks about her family loving Christmas, and how this was supposed to rekindle her old love. Harper is ruining it by being an abusive and emotionally unsupportive partner. John has an amazing speech about coming out to your parents having a world of results, but everyone is still scared of that huge unknown. It's a great scene that doesn't belong here. Harper doesn't want to come out because she's scared of losing her parents. That's fine. That doesn't excuse the rest of her actions.

Guests leave. Ted blows up at the girls, still favoring Harper. Harper gets Abby involved and tells them all that she's gay. She confesses her love. Sloane comes clean about her divorce. Jane "is an ally". That was a bad joke. Abby goes to leave, saying what Harper did was too late (AGREED). John goes to help Abby pack while Harper cries. Tipper gives a speech to Ted about not knowing what perfect is but still trying to reach it. She hasn't earned this talk. She's done nothing but scrutinize and hate. Same as Ted. Is this an attempt at a parents trying to be good scene? Hate it.

Harper tracks Abby down and talks about wanting a second chance. She's making this a big scene so Abby will like it. I've had this used on me. It unfortunately works often. Also, she's lying about not caring about her parents thoughts. It's so obvious. Oh look, Abby kisses Harper and gives her a second chance. Yay. Happy swelling moment for the ones who still want to see these two together. Not me. Christmas morning, Ted has a speech of some kind... I didn't listen. But everyone's happy and having a good Christmas, I guess. Ted gets a call and he sacrifices his campaign so Harper can live as herself.

Epilogue. Jane wrote, edited, and published her book in one year! AND MADE BEST SELLER. Eric is out of the picture. They watch a movie. The End. Much-needed epilogue. Cleared up some plot holes and questions I had.

Harper's actions are a trigger for me. Abby deserved better and is too forgiving. John is the best thing in this movie, and he's not in it long enough. There's a few redeemable moments you could find on YouTube, but that's about it. I expected a lot more overt homophobia, but instead we get a lot of racism and ableism thrown in our faces and expected to laugh along. I'm not laughing. It's not worth it.

But seriously, where... Where was the parent's homophobia at the end? They were supportive AFTER they were at their lowest! WHICH IS OUT OF CHARACTER! Seriously, Tipper would be downing wine and blowing up Insta, or something! Ted would be red-faced screaming! Am I saying every movie needs to be homophobic for that "real experience"? Hell no! THIS ONE almost promised it and didn't. And I think it suffered for it. Or at least Harper not getting with Abby! I need to just walk away and sleep. This was not a good one.

4/10, go watch the old Grinch instead. Or It's A Wonderful Life. Or Die Hard. There's better Christmas movies out there. And it doesn't require Hulu either.


Post a Comment