Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Christmas Plot

I am so tired of the Christmas plot. Maybe it’s because of the TV channels we are watching this year. Normally, I don’t watch much television except for news and a little sports, maybe an occasional movie. But this year the wife wants to watch some of the Christmas shows. So we’ve been watching Lifetime and ABC Family and Entertainment network shows, seemingly made-for-TV movies. I normally try to multi-task by reading or writing or working on crossword puzzles, but I’ve actually watched a couple.

Here’s the Christmas plot on these channels: A early-30s career woman with a non-committal or philandering significant other has a chance to go somewhere between Thanksgiving and Christmas, or at least do something new, where she meets a virtuous hunk who works in a charity. She has trouble completing her mission, falls for the hunk, leaves the skunk, and winds up with the hunk. At some point she wishes upon a star or a Christmas tree or…something.

Case in point: An Indianapolis newspaper reporter, who has been limited by her boss to writing fluffy features, is sent to a small town in Indiana the week before Christmas to unmask a secret Santa who anonymously does a good deed of expensive charity each year. She goes to the town, quickly focuses on the richest man in town as the secret Santa. He’s out of the country but then comes back. He’s a hunk, his wife dead, no kids, and devotes his attorney skills to saving the rain forests. Just before she left for the assignment her significant other left her for a woman with whom he had a one-night stand. She falls for the rich guy, who she finds is not the secret Santa. Her S.O. comes to the town trying to make up since his new girl was a fraud, but she dumps him. She finds the secret Santa, an unlikely candidate given the size of the charitable gifts, but decides not to unmask him. At the end she leaves the Indianapolis paper to take over the editorship of that small town paper, and will certainly wind up with the hunk. Oh, yeah, since there was no room at the inn she was staying at the local rest home, which happened to have been run by the secret Santa.

Case in point: A career woman who is mistress to her married boss has a minor auto accident in front of the house of a hunk with two kids. In the accident an electrical shock changes everything. That man who lives there says they are husband and wife of ten years, and they have two kids. They all think she is wife and mother to them. Except she’s never seen them before, has never been married, and certainly has not had two children younger than ten years old. Various friends say she is married to him. The show progresses and she comes to terms with the problem. Oh, yeah, his job is running some kind of neighborhood charity. Eventually she finds being this man’s wife is much better than being the mistress of a philanderer. At the end of the program she relives the accident, wakes up as who she was. But it’s still the house of the charity-running hunk, whom she meets for the first time but knows all about him (not because of the ten years she didn’t spend with him but because of the five days she did, or didn’t) and will end up with him. We never learn if the two kids are in the house, the product of a former wife.

Case in point: A trust-fund 30-ish woman is about to be cut off by her jet-setting parents, unless she finds a job or husband. This one doesn’t have a philandering S.O., but has played the field. She’s on the street window shopping when a letter to Santa, dropped by a postman, blows in front of her. The girl asks for a new wife for her father, since his wife (the girl’s mother) died. The letter gives an address. She stalks him, learns he has a multi-truck snow removal business but seems to spend more time running a struggling soup kitchen, the charity of his dead wife. The woman begins volunteering at the soup kitchen and both the daughter and the man begin to like her. But he’s dating another woman, a cold-fish he knew somewhat in college, and is planning on marrying since his daughter needs a mother. The trust-fund baby falls for him, but is exposed as a fraud, then uses her last trust fund payment to rescue the soup kitchen from eviction—on Christmas eve of course. At the end of the show the cold fish is out and the trust fund baby is in.

And on it goes, ad infinitum. Is there no originality in these script writers that they have to use such limited plot lines? Or, is it more that the audience of these few channels are 30-ish career women with philandering SOs, or women who were there once, and so this is what they will tune in to?

We all want to see a happy ending, and character arcs that show growth in the good guys (or girls), and perhaps some movement or the bad guys toward the good side, or at least remorse at them having been bad. So perhaps the script writers are giving the broader American audience what we want.

It’s December 1st. Only 24 more days of the Christmas plot to get through. Must concentrate harder on the multi-tasking.


Gary said...

Video romance novels.

David A. Todd said...

Yeah, I guess so.