Happiest Season is a Christmas romantic comedy which came out in early December. The premise consists of Abby (Kristen Stewart) being introduced to her girlfriend’s family and spending the Christmas holiday with them, however on the car journey there Abby finds out that her girlfriend, Harper (Mackenzie Davis) hasn’t come out to her family yet.
It is refreshing to see a queer love story in a Christmas rom-com seeing as romantic comedies and Christmas films generally side-line queer characters, and have always focused on heterosexual relationships and characters. Happiest Season is uplifting, funny and authentic; the director Clea DuVall reflected upon and took inspiration from her own experiences as a queer woman when making the film. It’s wholesome and filled with joy, a feel-good festive film filled with Christmas spirit and for once with queer characters at the forefront.
However, it’s also surprisingly honest and revealing; Happiest Season sensitively explores family and social pressure and expectations, identity and sexuality. It clearly shows the intense pressure and difficulties that queer people face coming to terms with their sexuality and identity, as well as the complexities and struggles of coming out to loved ones. Harper and her siblings compete for their parents’ love, appreciation and recognition and her struggle to come out and be herself clearly portrays the difficult reality and pressure there can be to make loved ones proud in the face of societal standards. Additionally, Happiest Season displays and ridicules impossible expectations of perfection and happiness that are often portrayed in Christmas films depicting an idealistic fantasy of a perfect family or relationship.
While at times the couple’s relationship is frustrating, the film explores the realistic difficulties of true romance and love examining the struggles two people face navigating a relationship as well as the pressure of family and society as a lesbian couple. Despite how much I enjoyed the film, I’d love to see a queer Christmas film which doesn’t focus on coming out or ‘being queer’ as the main plot of the story. It would be great to see a festive film that just happens to feature queer characters, couples and families.
Happiest Season is full of hope and love and ultimately it is a romantic comedy. It sticks to the conventions of the genre and makes them applicable to a queer story, combining heart, humour and festive cheer, succeeding as a romantic comedy Christmas film. The film is genuinely funny and entertaining with a great cast, with particular highlights from Mary Holland who plays Harper’s sister Jane and Dan Levy who plays Abby’s best friend. It delves deeper into identity, politics and love whilst still being light-hearted and full of Christmas cheer. This may be one of the first LGBTQ+ Christmas films, but I hope it’s not the last and inspires a variety of queer Christmas films in the coming years.