BY DANA NICKEL SENIOR STAFF WRITER
Hulu subscribers and fans of corny Christmas movies to kick off the holiday season will be delighted by the recent release of “Happiest Season.” This lesbian romantic comedy is a thinly veiled Christmas-themed monster movie. Only, in this film, the monsters are uncomfortable interactions with judgemental straight people around the Christmas tree.
Kristen Stewart stars as Abby, a young lesbian with plans to propose to her long-time girlfriend during the holiday season after meeting her parents. There’s a slight hitch in Abby’s perfect holiday plan, though. Her partner, Harper (portrayed by Mackenzie Davis), lied about coming out to her conservative family and on the drive to her parents’ house, she asks Abby to help her keep up the lie by pretending to be her heterosexual roommate.
Abby gives into Harper’s begging, ignoring the warnings from her friend John (Daniel Levy). For several days, Abby is subjected to prying personal questions and judgement by Harper’s parents and uptight older sister, as well as dealing with a few run-ins with beloved ex-boyfriends and secret ex-girlfriends. Despite this, Abby presses on with the painfully heterosexual charade to keep her partner happy.
Beneath the cheery exterior of this holiday romantic comedy lie the dark parts of the performativity of sexual orientation. Under Clea DuVall’s direction, this film displays obvious contempt for holly jolly heteronormative expectations, and the self-destruction many queer people have to deal with when they’re forced to put themselves into boxes to meet them. In the end, Abby is shoved back into a closet that she came out of years ago, and the suppression she subjects herself to in the name of “love” feels uncomfortable and even toxic at times.
Overall, it was interesting to watch actors like Kristen Stewart, Daniel Levy and Aubrey Plaza break down the trials and tribulations of straight perception and the performance of sexual orientation. It was uncomfortable and thrilling with a dash of beautiful Christmas decorations, lavish holiday parties and drag queens singing Christmas carols. If you’re interested in watching hard familial conversations over peppermint cocoa, check out “Happiest Season” on Hulu.