Hallmark is really shocking me this year, in the best way possible. Why? Because of quite a few things. They are utilizing new talent, they are being innovative with their stories, and they are making their characters more relatable.
You can see yourself in the characters on the screen.
You can understand them.
A lot of Hallmark movies can be classified as romance movies, even during the holidays. However this year, with a lot of the movies, they’ve put romance as part of the story, but the lead story in the movie is either finding themselves or finding their family or finding both.
In #XMAS, it’s a mixture of it all. Clare Bowen (Nashville, Sand Dollar Cove) and Brant Daugherty (Pretty Little Liars, A Royal Runaway Romance) play the leads, Max and Jen. They are best friends who used to date, but have settled on being there for each other as the closest of friends.
Max is a photographer and Jen is an interior designer. The two have the kind of friendship that anyone would want. Max is outgoing and Jen likes to be behind the scenes and well, not be seen. They have a thing, every time that Max takes a picture of her, she’s going to take a picture of him. From the moment that the two are on the screen, you just see how they look at each other and you can’t help but think – that’s the type of love I want in my life.
Yes, I can understand that they are best friends. But it’s a tale as old as time that best friends fall for each other. After all who knows you better?
Along with her sister Ali, Jen owns a store called Jenuine Designs. The store is absolutely adorable and the vibe is perfection. The issue? The are in the red and can’t seem to crawl out of it. The store is their dream, but it is failing. Each wants to believe everything will turn around, but when even their biggest sales day doesn’t bring people in, they have to become innovative.
Ali suggests that they enter a contest. Ali discovers that Hygge Home, the premiere design brand, is doing a contest. It involves making videos, which is something that Jen is 100% against. She doesn’t even like her picture taken, why would she make a video? The answer is no. No matter what. She, “wants to be taken seriously for her talent and lets the quality of her designs speak for themselves in her simple yet tasteful social media posts. She avoids revealing anything personal in her posts because it’s all about her work.”
Me thinks she doesn’t understand that she needs to sell herself. It sucks, but that’s part of what life is. One day – as a joke – she makes a video with her best friend and her nephew – and doesn’t expect it to go anywhere, but of course it does.
When you build a life on a lie – well there are going to be some consequences. It’s of no shock to anyone that Jen becomes a finalist. When, “she decides to apply to the contest posing as “Jen T,” a put-together design influencer with Max playing her husband and her nephew as their baby. To their surprise, she is selected as a finalist and is torn continuing to play the perfect family or telling the truth.”
Telling the truth isn’t easy, especially as your followers increase and there are more eyes on you. Everyone around Jen is excited as her store starts to do more sales, followers increase and she keeps doing better. But she’s not the only one doing better.
Max is getting job offers for his photography. An agent wants to represent him. He’s being offered things left and right. And for Jen, she’s loving seeing his success.
Watching the two, I also think that they are falling into a life that they both want. Jen and Max may be best friends, but you can tell that he wants more. You can tell that Jen wants more. He’s willing to admit it, but she is not. She’s wanting to avoid it at all costs.
For Jen, I do believe that it’s because she’s afraid of getting hurt. Getting hurt is hard. Not feeling good enough is hard. Finding yourself and really coming to terms with what you need to change and fix about yourself is hard.
I do believe that it’s when her Mom tells her just that, that it’s the slap that she needs to face what she’s feeling.
Jen had been given a beautiful gift by Max. It’s a photo album full of pictures and every picture is absolutely beautiful. She couldn’t look at the photos, seeing herself like that was scary for her. And it’s only when she’s forced to realize that she may not like herself enough, and that she’s letting go of the person that she loves that she’s willing to fight for it.
Jen comes clean about everything on a live stream and you can see that it pains her. But the truth always rises to the top. When she runs after Max, he admits his feelings. He tells her that he’s never stopped loving her, that he’s stayed for her, and that she doesn’t even realize that the biggest lie she told. He just can’t do it anymore.
When you accept what is, you grow. When you accept your feelings, you grow. Jen knew that she needed to apologize, but the apology needed to be honest. And that apology was. Everyone saw it and people related, because Jen spoke from her heart.
I think we all have a form of imposter syndrome at one time or another. And that’s okay. But what matters the most is how we fix it.
Jen knows that she has to fix things with Max. And how does she do that? She gives him the same gift he gave her, only the pics are of him and from her point of view. You can see how much she loves him and it’s even better when she tells him.
#XMAS at its heart was about the relationships that we build, the way that we nurture them, and the belief that we need to find in ourselves.
- Jen’s Mom thinking she had a kid and didn’t tell her was an obvious statement on their relationship, but the fact that she didn’t know that baby was her actual grandson says a lot about her.
- Ali, Jen’s sister, is a lot. She pushes her sister out of her comfort zone, but not in a positive way. Which sorry Ali, makes me like your character the least.
- Jen making the video and giving Max’s Dad the exposure she had promised was 100.
- Jen’s Mom is a lot, but I loved her.
#XMAS airs on The Hallmark Channel.