Gay Ass Movie Review: What I Think of “Happiest Season”
Whether or not you’re part of the LGBTQ community, you have probably heard of Hulu‘s original movie released last year called, “Happiest Season”. Released the day before Thanksgiving, it marks Clea DuVall’s second feature as writer/director. It may not be a perfect film, but the semi-autobiographical lesbian rom-com holds its own simply because of the incredible cast. Rotten Tomatoes stamps it as certified fresh, queer folks on Twitter hate it (but Twitter hates everything), personally I found it somewhere in between.
Oh: *******LOADS OF MOVIE SPOILERS********
“Happiest Season” opens with Abby (Kristen Stewart, queer icon) and Harper (Mackenzie Davis, LGBTQ honorable mention for the San Junipero episode of Black Mirror) lezzing it up looking at Christmas lights. It’s mentioned that Abby lost her parents years prior, and has nowhere to go for Christmas. Caught up in the moment, her girlfriend, Harper invites her home with her for the holidays to meet her parents. Sounds like hell to me!
We soon meet Abby’s best friend, John. He is played by Dan Levy, whom most will recognize from Schitt’s Creek. He essentially plays his character David Rose in “Happiest Season”, and steals every scene that he’s in. Abby confides in him she intends to ask Harper’s father for her hand in marriage. John rips Abby a new one for this antiquated tradition. While I agree with him, I suppose this could be perceived as endearing. After all, one of the greatest thing about being queer is making our own rules. We don’t have to follow societal norms unless we want to.
On the way to her parents’, Harper drops the bomb that not only is she not out to her family, but Abby must also be in the closet. Are you fucking kidding me!? She doubles down and reveals that she had previously lied about coming out to them, but she *promises* she will after the holidays, as her father is running for mayor of what I’m assuming to be a conservative, white town. Hats off to Abby, because at that point I’d be on the first Uber I could find home. She decides to stick it out, and will play the role of Harper’s straight roommate.
They arrive at Harper’s which is about as WASPy as you would imagine. There are many cringe moments at this point in “Happiest Season”, with the family constantly making orphan references in regards to Abby. They are saved by the hilarious sister Jane (Mary Holland, who co-wrote the film with Clea DuVall). Many more awkward moments ensue, specifically with a parade of Harper’s exes. Her parents invite her high school boyfriend to dinner where they also run into an ex-girlfriend, Riley. Played by Aubrey Plaza, whom I’ve basically been in love with since I first saw April Ludgate on Parks and Rec. She is also a scene stealer. Plus, she’s a doctor. It’s a no-brainer, but I digress.
The remainder of the film is basically Harper being extremely shitty to Abby. She reverts back to her closeted high school self when she’s around her old group of friends. Abby ends up spending a lot of time with Riley, who can relate to what Abby is experiencing. They end up at a LGBTQ bar (which gave me a sigh of relief) where I was pleasantly surprised to see some familiar faces, BenDeLaCreme and Jinkx Monsoon – RuPaul’s Drag Race royalty. There is some very obvious chemistry between Abby and Riley, and as badly as myself and everyone else on the internet wanted them to make out, it never happens.
Everything in “Happiest Season” culminates at the Christmas Eve party, when Sloane (played by Allison Brie) discovers Harper’s secret. A physical altercation ensues, we’re talking wreath strangling and ripped paintings. In a moment that was particularly enraging, Sloane outs Harper to entire party and she STILL denies her true identity. In front of her girlfriend. She truly is the worst.
John has come to rescue Abby at this point, and they share a heartfelt conversation. Why can’t Harper just be honest? Then John gives a moving monologue about coming out. It is different for everyone. I am lucky, as was the character Abby, of having supportive parents. But not everyone has that. In fact, a lot don’t. John assures her that just because Harper is not out to her family, does not mean she loves Abby any less.
Harper does end up coming out, and convinces Abby to stay. Her family is immediately supportive and recognize that their preoccupation with appearances has been very damaging to everyone. They take a family photo and despite having no redeeming qualities, Abby and Harper stay together and get engaged the next year. The end. Was the conclusion a bit cheesy? Yes. Unrealistic? Maybe. At the end of the day though, “Happiest Season” was an LGBTQ Christmas movie. As a lesbian, there are so few movies depicting us that have happy endings.
I adore Clea DuVall, I have been a fan ever since I saw “But I’m A Cheerleader”. This film was far from perfect, but it was her experience. Many of those lovely folks on Twitter are angry at this movie for a variety of reasons, but everyone has different struggles navigating the world as a queer person. Sure, I wish Riley and Abby would have ended up together, but I suppose that would not have been on brand for lesbians. I saw a tweet that sums everything up nicely: