Inside of us, there are two wolves. One of them thinks that Happiest Season was written exclusively for straight people (due to the general plotline). The other thinks that Kristen Stewart’s holiday-party-blazer-sexy-shirt look is fragrantly sapphic enough to kill any heterosexual on sight.
Ninety per cent of the reason we wanted to review this movie was to discuss the aforementioned Kristen-Stewart-Blazer. Unfortunately, that’s also probably 90 per cent the reason why we ‘liked’ this movie.
It’s difficult to discuss this movie without recognizing that Clea DuVall specifically wrote it with the goal of creating a Christmas movie that features lesbians. The movie very clearly aligns itself with Heterosexual Christmas Movies, and if anything, we can say it succeeded in recreating that mould. The movie starts with Harper (Mackenzie Davis) inviting her partner Abby (Kristen Stewart) to come home with her for the holidays.
We can’t say for certain, but our best guess as to what Harper’s character was thinking is something like this:
“I’m going to invite my partner, whom I love, to come home to my wildly unsupportive family, during a time of year she’s specifically said brings up pain for her, and tell her in the car, five minutes before we’re there, that she’ll have to go back into the closet and talk about being an orphan approximately every two minutes. Yay!”
John (Dan Levy) says it best — being shoved back in the closet with your partner is not hot.
We don’t know why so many Christmas movies have to revolve around one person being super unfair and toxic to their partner, only to ultimately end with them still getting together at the end and not acknowledging any of the shitty stuff that happens.
There are parts of this movie that we absolutely hated, but for some reason when we watch them in heterosexual movies, we don’t think twice. Maybe this is because we don’t think that queer movies need to follow and fit into that same mould. We also think that creating conflict around someone’s identity is so personal that watching it as a queer person is honestly quite difficult at times.
It’s not that we didn’t like the movie, but more that we think that these movies could do better by their queer audiences. There are lots of people in the world like Harper, and Harper’s story is not unfamiliar. However, we thought that maybe this movie would address her self-sabotaging behaviours and emotional manipulation, and show how and why these actions are toxic, even when they come from a place of very real pain.
But they didn’t. They got back together in the end and that was that.
(Also, side note — lesbians spend four hours communicating about which alternative milk is the most ethical to consume. There’s no way in hell these characters would be putting each other back in the closet like that without talking about it.)
Harper and Abby aside, Dan Levy’s character was iconic. The killing of the fish, the constant tracking of friends, the beautifully emotional speech at the end, we want a friend like Dan Levy.
Also, Dan Levy and Kristen Stewart’s chemistry is just *chef’s kiss*.
Another notable side character is Riley. A lot of people wanted Riley and Abby to end up together, and while we agree that they had more chemistry than Abby and Harper, we’re glad that we didn’t go down the line of queer relationships born out of other failed queer relationships.
We were happy to see that Riley and Abby were able to be friends that supported themselves and supported each other. We were also really happy that Riley got an apology at the end from Harper (although it wasn’t nearly enough!!).
Our main consensus on this movie is that it’s not fun Christmas vibes. It’s actually kind of ouch-this-is-gay-pain vibes, despite the funny moments. Even with those vibes, we enjoyed seeing queer characters represented on screen having difficult coming-out experiences with their families.
However, the movie tackled these themes like how Glee tackled every major social issue: poorly.