Yes Virginia, There is an Adam Smith: Hallmark Xmas MfTVMs and Laissez-Faire Capitalism

Christopher Willard
3 min readNov 21, 2022

Have you been watching those Hallmark winter shows? I’m not sure what to call them, probably xmas made for TV movies (MfTVMs) that are so mainstream they can no longer be called a guilty pleasure. I’m not a romance writer or reader but it seems some Hallmark movies are adaptations of romance novels. My favorite romance novel is Christina Dodd’s novel Castles in the Air and which I’ve never cracked open the cover which once featured a woman with three hands.

But back to these xmas MfTVMs. Once we endure the cliché, formulaic, melancholic, collagen, botox, plastic surgery, canned dialogue, marble mouthed phrasing, continuity issues, complete flat-footed obviousness, that people all seem to live in slow motion, and so on and so on, there is a point to be made here. These screenplays are rife with unintended messaging. For example, people in these towns are positively addicted to sugar. They pour hot chocolate down their gullets at about 40 grams of sugar (about 9 teaspoons) a cup and gorge on sugar cookies (about 10 grams of sugar each). The American Heart Association recommends 38 grams per day for men, 25 grams for women.

But my focus is on the second big subtext topic: A good first-world Christmas citizen means one thing: holiday buying. Of course it does, this is Hallmark, they sell lots of stuff, cards, gifts, crayons, etc.

To make this subtext more evident, I tracked the holiday expenditures of one show, The Charm Bracelet (2020). My rules were simple, a character bought something, or talked about what a character just bought. I didn’t track the hundreds of billions of dollars that the town must have spent on electricity for the Christmas lights, nor the clothing they wore, nor the costs of home cooked meals in the lavishly decorated homes that a magazine writer and a thrift store owner live in.

A woman discovers a charm bracelet in the pocket of a coat donated to a thrift shop. She teams up with a writer for the Voice, no, not The Village Voice, to track down the rich owner. At the end they do. Needless to say the plot is as cliché as you might expect, man and woman fall in and then out of and then in love again in a cinematic construction as leaky as a bullet riddled lifeboat. But, everything moves ahead in a nice capitalist manner. German cake, Kuchen, is a plot point, and the lead guy, Greg, at one point KuchenGoogle. Now that word needs wide acceptance. The woman, Holly (as I said, things are totally obvious) does an obnoxious amount of womansplaining.

But down to the money. Here’s the list with my best guess as to the cost:

Earrings for a friend: $50

Two ciders $8

Parents’ tickets to St. Bart $5,000

Two dinners with dessert $60

Two coffees $10

One latte $5

Two hot chocolates $10

Two slices Kuchen $15

Unidentified green gift $10

Two coffees $10

Chili with extra crackers $8

Necklace for secret Santa $100

Taxi ride $25

LIRR Christmas Train $100

Taxi ride $25

LIRR to the Hamptons $70

Taxi train to house $20

Wine for romantic dinner $20

Two taxi rides $50

Taxi, NYC to the Hamptons $400

Necklace $350

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Total spent: $6, 346

Charming indeed. Finally a touch of suck-face 💋 and roll credits.

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Christopher Willard

Novelist, poet, a post-studio visual artist, and the founder of The Invisible Art Collective International. Recent novels include “Sundre” and “Garbage Head.”