‘Happiest Season:’ the problematic gay Christmas film we needed

5 mins read

‘Happiest Season’ directed by Clea DuVall is the latest Christmas holiday film to hit 2020, released directly to streaming services.

Desperate to give her girlfriend Abby (Kristen Stewart) a great Christmas, Harper (Mackenzie Davis) invites her back home to spend the holidays with her family on a whim – something orphaned Abby no longer has. The only problem? Harper has not revealed her sexuality to her conservative parents and the two have to spend the entire time concealing their relationship. No biggie right? Wrong. Let the shenanigans and angst ensue.

DuVall has written a funny and heart-warming tale and brought it to life brilliantly on screen. It is simply a cute Christmas movie with quirky characters and an underlying message of acceptance and love; what’s not to like? There is very little to comment on in terms of technical bravado, you get what it says on the label and the simplicity of it all really allows a focus on the story, which is nice for once.

Credit: Independent.ie

The one thing I can say for this movie is that it was genuine. Throughout all the ups and downs it stayed true to its authenticity and message – truly something we need facing a Christmas during a worldwide pandemic.

The cast in this film is stellar: Kristen Stewart is adorably awkward in her sincere portrayal of lovestruck Abby, the same can be said for Mackenzie Davis as she towers over Stewart, believably enamoured. Some of the monologues in the film are golden, full to the brim with power and emotion.

Guest stars include Aubrey Plaza who gives a surprisingly straight laced performance as the suit-jacket-clad scorned ex Riley. Alison Brie definitely needed more screen time as the ex-attorney try-hard eldest daughter and honestly Mary Holland as quirky middle sister Jane has given me enough serotonin to last another year. Finally Dan Levy gave a typical gay best friend role but it was sweet and fabulous to the end.

Credit: Decider

There is one sore spot to be said for an otherwise golden Christmas film. Upon arrival at Harper’s family home, it seems that she becomes an entirely different and toxic person, which while needed for the film, has not sat well with audiences. Abby was frequently blindsided and abandoned by her giraffe of a girlfriend after being brought into a toxic environment without any idea of what she was getting into. Harper essentially shoves her back in the closet and leaves her there while she canoodles with high school sweetheart Connor (Jake McDorman).

Audiences have had mixed reactions to the quick fix at the end of the movie in terms of Abby and Harper’s relationship and I am inclined to agree. There is something about the happy ending in this that I don’t agree with. Abby deserved better – something that no doubt also would have been said where this a heterosexual relationship.

Credit: Indiewire

There is little more to say about the problematic elements without watching it for yourself: however, while there are downsides to the story people can not forget that this film is almost ground breaking in terms of representation and acceptance for the LGBTQ+ community. Yes, it has flaws but so do most films. The toxicity of the relationship seems to be something that is un-liked by some and dismissed by others: you’ll have to make up your own mind.

‘Happiest Season’ is a much needed break from the monotony of typical Christmas romcoms and provides that little serotonin that we all need right now. Plus, did I mention it has Aubrey Plaza in a suit at all times? What else do you need? Merry Christmas.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Featured image: Glamour

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