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As Christmas slowly approaches, people are setting up décor, buying presents and — of course — waiting for a Christmas tale to brighten up the doom and gloom of this horrible year. On Nov. 9, Hulu released the trailer for its new original “Happiness Season,” written by Mary Holland and Clea DuVall, who also directed the film. At first glance, the trailer checks all the boxes for a traditional Christmas movie: seasonal joy signaled by melodic ringing bells, Christmas décor, winter snow, and family gatherings. Yet there is something slightly unconventional about this film. While holiday-themed romantic comedies are a dime a dozen, “Happiest Season” is the first Christmas rom-com from a major studio to center around a queer couple. Early in September, DuVall tweeted “All I ever wanted was a holiday movie that represented my experience”— and that’s exactly what she made. DuVall highlights her LGBTQ+ protagonists by celebrating, not mourning, the love story of Abby (Kristen Stewart) and her girlfriend Harper (Mackenzie Davis).
The trailer begins with a jovial whistling tune as Abby waxes poetic about how enamored she is with Harper and her plans to propose. But when the couple visits Harper’s family for Christmas, a caveat emerges — Harper has yet to come out to her conservative family. The trailer offers doses of comedic relief through teasers of this ordeal as Abby relays this premise to her gay best friend John (Dan Levy). When Abby asks John to be her “ex-boyfriend” to help preserve the lie that she is Harper’s straight, orphaned roommate, John exclaims, “Have they ever met a lesbian before?” Stewart imbues her character with a loving personality, and her comedic timing shines through as she interacts with Harper’s family — such as when she awkwardly stutters to cover up her relationship with Harper to Harper’s sister (Mary Holland). The trailer amplifies the cast’s comedic personas with light jokes and references. When Harper’s mother (Mary Steenburgen) catches Abby hiding from the family, she blatantly asks, “What are you doing in the closet?” Moreover, towards the climax of the trailer, the phrase “secrets will be coming out” is highlighted in another clever double entendre.The trailer for “Happiest Season” already contains some heartfelt moments of self-discovery. Towards the trailer’s end, Abby confronts Harper about how much it hurts to be hidden, only for Harper to tearfully reply,“I am hiding me. I am scared that if I tell them who I am, I will lose them.”
The trailer’s cheery seasonal atmosphere assures the viewer that this queer love story will be filled not with tragedy but rather with comfort, bliss, and happiness. Instead of a typical coming out story, Duvall universalizes the narrative as a heartwarming journey of meeting a partner’s family and seeking familial acceptance, with the pain of deep secrets and the power of uncovering our authentic selves to those that are truly special. ‘Tis the season for “Happiest Season” to become a modern Christmas classic!
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