In the Suburbs: Reflections on Mr. Wrong, and other Hallmark holiday fantasies
Published 7:12 am, Saturday, December 5, 2015
OK, OK, I admit it. I’m a hopeless romantic when it comes to the Hallmark channels — we have two on our cable plan and some of the films make it to the Lifetime channel. I’m especially vulnerable at the holiday season.
Among the most popular Hallmark approaches, especially at this time of year, are scenarios where boy meets unavailable girl or girl meets unavailable guy. And those unavailable girls or guys are generally with Mr. or Ms. Wrong.
What fascinates me about mixing “wrongs” with “rights” is that they all seem like pretty decent people. And sometimes there isn’t a Mr. Wrong in the picture, but it still takes Mr. Right needing to jump through hoops to convince the girl or lady that he truly is “the one.”
I decided that if I were out in this crazy dating world again, I could very easily be Mr. Wrong or Mr. Right. It would really depend on the girl. But mostly I’d prefer to be Mr. Right and I hope I was for my wife.
I flagged a few Hallmark episodes as our favorites and we have probably watched these episodes as many as eight or 10 times, because new programs don’t come out until it’s more of a season for love, like Valentine’s Day, Christmas or New Year’s. But somehow, despite their predictability, I never tire of seeing the episodes and getting hooked again.
For instance in one of our favorites, “The Memory Book,” a female photographer, newly relocated from Manhattan to San Francisco, meets a charming ex-lawyer-turned bartender and they stumble on a photo album at a flea market with a perfect couple in it. The bartender, whom the photographer finds completely annoying, decides to join her in a search for the memory book’s owner.
Mind you, the photographer has absolutely no faith in love since her parents had divorced and she keeps reminding the bartender that their journey is just a scavenger hunt. It’s a truly beautiful story with a wonderful ending, but I really felt for the poor bartender who jumped through hoops to convince the wary photographer that love really can last. He reminded me of me trying to carve my initial relationship with my wife. Yes, I was pretty annoying or should I say, persistent.
In “Bride for Christmas,” which we’ve seen about 12 times, the story opens with a runaway bride, Jessie, who had been engaged three times to three wrong guys. When she waltzed by groom number three and out the door of the church, Jessie announces she is not marriage material. Wrong.
And, of course, Jessie’s lament is about finding Mr. Right. Meanwhile, Aiden, a handsome, unmarried financial planner with commitment issues, places a bet with friends that he’ll get a girl to marry him within four weeks before Christmas. Once he meets Jessie, an interior designer, who redecorates his apartment; gets to know her and realizes that she really is “the one,” he calls off the bet and sets out to become “the one.” You’ll have to watch to see if that works.
Another of our favorites, “My Boyfriends’ Dogs,” opens with a blinding rainstorm and a beautiful young woman running through it in a wedding dress with three dogs in tow. This lady’s bad habit is meeting guys but not being able to tell them that their interests don’t really match hers. With guy number three, she fools herself right to the altar … or not. By the way, Mr. Right turned out to right there all the time, but you have to watch the movie to see how.
In the last example I’ll mention, “The Nine Lives of Christmas,” there was a Ms. Right for a hunky firefighter with commitment issues. These two connected when she was fired from his current girlfriend’s father’s store and she got evicted with her cat. He offered Ms. Right an apartment in the home he was renovating and she turned out to be a “handywoman” who wormed her way right into his uncommitted heart. He had already been adopted by Ambrose, a male cat, who immediately fell in love with Ms. Right’s cat. Watch for the cats in this one. They’re true matchmakers.
There are hundreds of other Hallmark creations, covering all different kinds of relationships and challenges and almost all of them involve children or pets who help seal the deals the right way. And as I watch the beautiful women, I try to imagine myself 40 years younger, wondering if I’d be Mr. Right in similar circumstances, which are pretty real.
For great romantic comedies and heartwarming stories, tune into Hallmark this season and beyond.
Steven Gaynes is a Fairfield writer, and his “In the Suburbs” appears each Friday. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.