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Every Moment That Made Me Scream During ‘Happiest Season’

November 25, 2020 by Tina Wargo
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Welcome back to Today I’m Obsessed With…, a deep-dive into a cultural phenomenon, particularly compelling figure, or uniquely fascinating moment that was as imprisoned in my broken mind over the past seven days as we all were inside our homes. I’m Tina, the TodayTix Social Media Manager. Obsess with me, won’t you?

While it may not even be December yet, the wrath of 2020 and our collective, subsequent ability to have even a semblance of chill have made it so that the holiday season has already begun. Trees are trimmed, cookies are baked, presents are wrapped, and we’re all (still) snuggled, cozy, into the permanent indent our bodies have created in our couches, ready to binge-watch the best of the season.

The classics, surely, will be devoured in no time, but with so much free time and certainly not enough new content to fill it with, there are a select few new releases that have quickly become the talk of the town. And since “the town” is now a mere vision of the past in these quaran-times, by that, of course, I mean The Internet.

One such film, which many of us have preemptively been obsessed with since hearing whisperings of its existence, is Clea DuVall’s gay Christmas romp Happiest Season, now streaming on Hulu. It has everything: Kristen Stewart actually and outwardly playing gay; Victor Garber and Mary Steenburgen as holiday movie parents (arguably, the very best genre of parents two actors can play); out queer semi-witch Aubrey Plaza playing maybe someone’s kind of mean boss?; Dan Levy as the all-too-honest but ride-or-die best friend; Mackenzie Davis as a not-yet-out and seemingly Extremely Regular™ foil to K.Stew. And it’s Christmas! And the girlfriends are going home to Mackenzie Davis’s family even though, as previously stated, she’s not out! What could go wrong?!

As our resident obsessor, I’m about to embark upon the journey to let you know exactly what (and what does not) go wrong. Without having seen one second of the film, I can tell you my best guess as to what goes wrong is that Kristen Stewart isn’t dating a scientifically modified clone of herself, and that Victor Garber and Dan Levy aren’t secretly in love. But who knows? Maybe that’s the twist. Gay Christmas films are famously known for their twists. Let’s see how happy this season really is.

  • It opens with a montage of oil-painted snapshots depicting moments from Kristen Stewart and Mackenzie Davis’s relationship, thus far. Portrait of a Lady on Fire, who???
  • Kristen Stewart is “not a huge Christmas person” and also she’s the SHORT ONE!
  • We get MAJOR hi-jinx in the first 5 minutes. I won’t spoil it, but some of its components are a ruined kiss, a rooftop, and a giant blow-up snowman.
  • I have just learned their names are Abby and Harper, which are gay names, but don’t ask me: ask Sarah Paulson as Carol’s ex, and Angels In America.
  • The scene between the gay best friend who’s explaining that marriage is a heteronormative scam and the lesbian, who has just acquired an engagement ring, agreeing in theory but also expressing her desire to let everyone know that she loves her girlfriend is every conversation I had with every person I went to liberal arts college with.
  • The tall one cannot be trusted, it seems. Trust me. I’m short-ish.
  • Harper’s family is basically Little Women except WASP-ier and with Internet. And Mary Steenburgen’s name is *Tipper*.
  • I literally had to rewind to see the scene where Abby waltzes through Harper’s childhood bedroom filled with pictures of shirtless men and her girlfriend’s ex-boyfriends, it was so campy.
  • “Harper! I would never ask two grown women to share a bed!” says Harper’s mom, again, named Tipper, when asked why Abby is being whisked away to her own room. We are going to get a huuuuuge “Harold, they’re lesbians” moment from Mary Steenburgen, I’ll tell ya that!
  • I could not have been more wrong about Aubrey Plaza’s role, and for that, I will issue a Notes app apology on my Twitter account later this week. Aubrey Plaza plays Harper’s ex, an out lesbian! Possibly, the only one in the town!
  • The new trope of the gay male best friend being super-woke instead of the old one where they were all super-misogynistic is Evolution, hunny.
  • We’ve just met Harper’s brother-in-law and he is certainly gay. I guess that’s the ol’ Christmas twist!
  • Mary Steenburgen saying “This is great content” about a family photo she took is my new ringtone.
  • Abby is bad at ice skating! What a treat.
  • I’ve changed my mind. The twist shall be that Harper’s father, who is running for mayor, is going to have known that his daughter is gay, and will relish in the diversity it brings to his campaign. Make America Gay Again will be his new slogan. I will be campaign manager. Oh wait, I’m not in this movie. But still. I’m applying.
  • The galz are texting each other from opposite sides of the house because they miss each other! Canonically gay, and painfully cute! Abby is sneakin’ around the house! More hi-jinx from the cutie little sneaker!
  • I have concocted a third and final twist. Every single character will be gay at the end. That will be the Christmas miracle.
  • We have reached the halfway point of the movie and I have just now realized that it takes place in suburban Pennsylvania, which is the very place whence I am writing this unhinged list. My FBI agents are working over time this holiday season!
  • Aubrey Plaza (Riley), Harper’s first girlfriend as you’ll remember, is now bonding with Abby over Harper’s family’s erasure, and it turns out Abby is obviously better than Harper and should be in love with Riley instead. The way I know this is that Abby and Riley are singing “Must Be Santa” together at a drag bar, and it is the most chemistry I’ve seen so far.
  • We’re spending an awful lot of time on Harper and her boring sentient pencil of an ex-boyfriend for my taste, and by “an awful lot of time,” I mean ~10 minutes, which is 9 minutes too long.
  • “What do you think this is, a barn party?” is something else that Mary Steenburgen has just uttered, and I’m starting to believe that this movie was really just a vehicle for her one-liners, which we deserve.
  • It’s time for the annual White Elephant Christmas Eve party, and everyone is stressed, and tensions are high, and Kristen Stewart’s sparkly suit jacket layered over a half-open white button-down with a tie that’s just one black ribbon is by far the gayest thing that’s happened yet! (Harper’s sister and her possibly gay husband having a business wherein they curate gift baskets is the straightest.)
  • I understand the ~drama~ of Abby becoming too close to Riley, but Harper’s anger is going a little too far. Doesn’t she know that the first rule of being queer is that you immediately find the other queer person in the room/county/state and befriend them almost too quickly?
  • Abby is really giving it to Harper, and she deserves it, and Harper is trying the “I’m supposed to be perfect in my family!” narrative, which doesn’t really jive because her other two sisters are objectively failing at their lives and no one seems to care.
  • The Little Women are coming undone. The jinx are getting much hi-er.
  • It took me ’til the climax to fully internalize that the third sister, the one that is not Harper and is not making gift baskets, is the Peggy. Peggier than Peggy. And the real twist is that she’s the emotional heartbeat of this film, with the best arc! I will never again think of Jane without one singular tear making its way down my face. The Peggiest Season!!!
  • The brother-in-law is not gay, somehow, and so twist-wise, I’m in the red.
  • Lots of revelations in this third act, the most shocking of which is that Dan Levy actually brings up Kristen Stewart’s perfect Christmas Eve suit jacket outfit! I’ve been redeemed!
  • The girls, in typical lesbian fashion, are seriously getting to the bottom of some deep-seated traumas and working swiftly and effectively to course-correct, and we stan that kind of self-awareness in the face of heteronormative adversity, sis!
  • We also stan an imperfect ending and a messy resolution that’s honest to the characters’ journeys. Everyone’s living, everyone’s learning, everyone’s growing! That’s what makes the season the happiest! Jk, it makes it miserable but only for like 20 minutes and then your life gets to get better because of what you did! Lessons!
  • Being A Grown Up Adult And Not Caring What Your Parents Think is the New Black
  • Turns out not every single character came out as gay, so that’s weird.
  • This movie ending with the daughters all assuring their dad that they’re proud of him even though they just shared with him their greatest traumas that they’d been repressing their whole lives due to his judgement is too real.
  • That said, I am looking forward to the sequel, Happiest Election Season, where the dad takes my advice and runs with his diverse family front-and-center, and I am the campaign manager, and also I fall in love with Tipper.

And there you have it! The itemized list of my mini and constant gay panics throughout this year’s (and maybe, this decade’s) queerest Christmas film! It’s the kind of movie I’d have wept to get to have on my screen as a teen, and the kind I’m certainly glad exists today. Here’s hoping next (happiest) season, we get ten more, and then twenty more the next year, and thirty more after that, until Christmas 2025 when we’ll have to refer to anything that isn’t a movie like this as “the straight Christmas movie.” ‘Til then, this movie will be on repeat in my gay home and in my gay brain, no matter WHAT my parents or best friend or hot hometown ex or boring hometown ex think!

Merry Happiest Season to all, and to all a gay night!