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Harper Caldwell (Mackenzie Davis) takes her girlfriend Abigail Holland (Kristen Stewart) to spend the holidays with her family. Abigail is the name of a concept album from King Diamond, which itself inspired the name of a sex-crazed black metal band from Japan. That has nothing to do with the movie, forgive me. Besides, they call her Abby 99% of the time. Tension arises when Harper reveals her family doesn’t know she’s a lesbian and Abby will have to pose as her roommate until Harper feels comfortable coming out.
Hiding their relationship leads to what doesn’t rise to the level of antics, but is still well outside recognizable human behavior. There are the routine misunderstandings, awkward dinners, and close calls. The one interesting detail of the plot is that Harper’s parents aren’t bible-thumpers. Her father (Victor Garber) is running for mayor, and though his speeches include vague references to “family values,” Harper’s reluctance is due to fear of hindering his campaign rather than offending his moral convictions. When everything inevitably comes out, it turns out Harper’s two sisters also feel stifled by their father’s insistence on projecting an image of a perfect family. It’s about overbearing parenting rather than bigotry.
That doesn’t let the movie off the hook. A parent you were justifiably worried about coming out to wouldn’t have a change of heart overnight. The audience for Happiest Season wouldn’t have it another way. They’re the type to make sure romance stories have the HEA tag before jumping in. They want a cozy visit to a world where any relationship can be mended with a heartfelt speech. You may question then why I chose to watch this. I have no one to blame except myself, since the trailer was clear about what was in store. My judgment was clouded by the fact that not only does Kristen Stewart play a lesbian, but so does Aubrey Plaza. There was a chance the movie could save me the trouble of writing a hot fan fiction.