A Very Honest, Very Queer Review Of ‘Happiest Season’, The Lesbian Christmas Movie
Kristen Stewart! Blazers! Hot ex-girlfriends!
Let me get this out of the way: This is not going to be a traditional movie review. I’m not really a ‘movie guy’. I’m no Margaret Pomeranz (unfortunately). I love movies, but I generally don’t give them much thought. That said, even though I’m not a movie guy, I’m definitely a movie gay.
By that I mean, I’ve pretty much seen every movie that has queerness — or even the very hint of queerness — in it. If a gay intern once glanced at the script while leaning over to hand someone a coffee, I’ve seen it. And in all honestly, it really hasn’t been that hard.
Even though I’m a grown woman, and have kissed people and had queer relationships of my own (brag), I still find myself becoming very excited whenever I get to tune into a gay movie because, despite things slowly progressing, we still don’t get to see movies about queers that often. Combined with the fact that I absolutely j’adore (French for Jeez I adore this) both good and bad Christmas movies, Clea Duvall (who directed and co-wrote the movie), and Kristen Stewart (who plays protagonist Abby), I was very excited about seeing Happiest Season.
In this Christmas rom-com, Mackenzie Davis plays Harper, who brings her girlfriend Abby home for Christmas, but drops the bomb right before they arrive that she has lied to Abby, and hasn’t yet told her family about being gay or about their relationship. She asks Abby to pretend to be her “roommate” and hijinks ensue. Now, I love gay, but I also had complicated feelings knowing that this was yet another queer movie about being closeted, with bonus a marriage proposal plot line. Neither of those things excited me very much. (And if you’re wondering if the movie changed my mind, not really.)
But before I get into that, let me share some of my thoughts about the film in the only way I know how: by ranking my favourite queer things.
My Favourite (Mostly) Spoiler-Free Queer Moments
That Relatable Ex Life
Before the movie started, I ran into a friend in the cinema lobby who had just seen an ex and their new girlfriend, and she had to go and hide. This wasn’t in the movie, it was real life, but an extremely queer way to start my experience. In the movie there’s also a realistic storyline where an ex befriends a new girlfriend. Exes, exes, everywhere.
Aubrey F*cking Plaza
The moment Aubrey Plaza swaggered onto screen, gasps literally rippled through the audience at the screening. Playing the old high school girlfriend of Harper, Plaza brings Huge Gay Energy to her role, and I think is going to get a lot more attention from queers after this. She had palpable chemistry with Kristen Stewart. (Unfortunately, slightly more than KStew had with Mackenzie Davis.)
I am one of the people who think Kristen Stewart is a good actor, and I think this is possibly one of her best roles. She’s queer, she’s playing queer, and her sort of nervous energy works very well in this setup. She has some really big laugh lines, and she sells the emotional stuff really well. Also, she looks like Kristen Stewart.
Good God, Aubrey And Kristen
At one point there’s a scene where Aubrey Plaza slides into a booth next to Kristen Stewart and I blacked out. Not really, but it did legit make me feel a bit flustered. As a friend of mine said about that moment: “It really made me miss flirting, that feeling when someone moves to be closer to you.” HOT AND GAY.
There are a lot of hot women wearing blazers in this! Great!
How Tall Mackenzie Davis Is
I would like to give it up for tall women for a moment. We almost never get to see the lady love interest be the tall one, and because this is two women, it’s legal and allowed. I just Googled it for research purposes and Mackenzie Davis is 5’11 and KStew is 5’5. This is hot, and I admire the filmmakers for having such courage. Thank you. Also, it reminded me of this meme.
— not soph (@cuntydemon) October 11, 2019
Holler For Mary Holland
Holland co-wrote this movie with Clea Duvall, and also plays one of Harper’s sisters. Before everyone talks about how great she is in this movie, and how she is a scene-stealer (which she is), I want it put out there that I knew and loved her from a long time ago. She’s part of the Wild Horses improv group that also features Lauren Lapkus (amazing comedian who makes a short appearance in this movie), and Stephanie Allynne (from being in the new L Word and also marrying Tig Notaro). Anyway the point is that she’s great, and me knowing about her first is queer culture, as is anything else I claim.
Dan “Gay Best Friend” Levy
Dan Levy really “David from Schitt’s Creek-ed” all over this movie, and it’s great.
My Less Favourite Moments
Coming Out (Again And Again)
Yes, coming out is a huge and ongoing process for a lot of our community. It’s important to discuss, and we do discuss it — a lot. But sometimes we discuss it so much that it can be to the detriment of other stories that deserve to be told. There are one million rom-com setups that could essentially keep the movie as is, without us having to be taken to that place. It’s been done, it’s not that interesting, and for many queer audience members, it can also just be…not that fun to watch. To its credit, the movie takes a nuanced view on coming out, and it is a true relief to watch something that was clearly written by a queer person with lived experience. But please let us have our cheesy, lighthearted rom-com about something much dumber than our sexuality! We deserve it.
Besides tall women, this movie is not very diverse. With the exception of a handful of minor characters, it’s essentially about conventionally attractive rich white people. To me, that is not very queer.
So, Should You See It?
Yes, duh. Obviously this movie is not going to be all things to all queer people. And it shouldn’t have to be. I don’t expect that, nor do I think it’s fair to expect it. So much pressure is placed on movies like this to be perfect, because they are still rare and we are all still desperate to feel represented. It’s not realistic. The only simple solution is to…give us more movies! Let us make great movies and bad movies and fun movies and silly movies. Let us raise the bar of what we expect. Let some people who aren’t cis and white tell their stories in fun and funny ways! And let me play Lesbian Santa Clause!
Still, in my opinion, it’s definitely worth seeing. As established, I will see every queer movie, but I enjoyed this a lot overall. It is fun, there’s a really great cast, and there are women kissing.
And after all my criticisms about the queer politics and the storyline, did I still cry during some of the coming out scenes? Absolutely. I’m gay, not a monster.
‘Happiest Season’ is in cinemas now, and you can watch the trailer below.