“The Happiest Season” : Strong, unconventional LGBTQ romcom

The Happiest Season movie promotional poster by Sony Pictures

The Happiest Season movie promotional poster by Sony Pictures

Raewyn Kraybill

The Happiest Season is a new Christmas movie directed by Clea Duvall that came out in November 2020. It tells the story of Harper and Abby, a lesbian couple who face issues when Harper reveals she hasn’t told their family they are dating. She doesn’t reveal this to Abby until they have made plans to stay with Harper’s parents for Christmas. Abby is forced back into the closet as she tries to let Harper tell them when the time is right, but it proves to be more complicated and stressful than expected. Family drama ensues and Harper has to try to salvage her relationship with Abby while dealing with her family.

The message of the movie is very strong. It looked at how toxic perfectionism, or the focus on achieving the most, can be through Harper’s family issues. It explores how Harper’s parents’ pressure on their children created their conflicts with each other and made it so hard for Harper to come out as a lesbian. They emphasize that perfection is less important than family and acceptance. 

The movie also was an interesting look at family dynamics during Christmas time, and how it can bring out family issues that previously were hidden. When an argument erupts at the end of the movie, it is revealed that all of the family members have been hiding secrets and problems. In the end, it’s a film about how being open and honest is the only way to work through problems. 

The cast was definitely a highlight of the movie. Mackenzie Davis and Kristen Stewart play the main characters, alongside other notable actors like Dan Levy, Alison Brie, and Aubrey Plaza. Stewart and Davis both were able to accurately and emotionally portray the struggles their characters faced, such as dealing with coming out to family and having a partner who is not at the same place with coming out. It’s notable that a majority of the LGBTQ characters were played by LGBTQ actors. This is a rare occurrence in a lot of movies and it definitely adds to the quality of the acting. With actors that have experienced the topics the movie deals with, it makes it so much more authentic.

The movie had its faults. Although the audience can be sympathetic towards Harper, most people will find themselves frustrated with her rather than rooting for her. She constantly mistreats Abby, talking to her ex-boyfriend and ignoring Abby’s concerns. These things and other actions during the movie make her an unlikable character.  While that may have been the intent during the beginning of the movie, at the end the writers clearly intended for the audience to forgive Harper, but the way issues are resolved are very surface and it seems like Harper doesn’t really change. The movie almost turned Harper into the villain by giving her all the undesirable traits. 

This isn’t a movie for everyone. It is not a light rom-com christmas movie. However, it has a phenomenal cast and is an important movie to help normalize LGBTQ issues. I would recommend it to anyone interested in a good film about coming out and family issues.