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Amour... Amour... Aw, MUSH!

There's nothing like a good romantic film to tug at your heartstrings, make you laugh and cry, and even believe in the possibility of finding love after kissing a lot of frogs. For the next few hours, you get to escape into an adventure of two people with a mutual attraction... Or have nothing in common at all... Or are on a quest for the very treasure that can transform their lives... Or just go about their ordinary days in rather extraordinary ways. The classics like In the Good Old Summertime, Singin' in the Rain, An American in Paris, That Touch of Mink, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, Casablanca, An Affair to Remember, Breakfast at Tiffany's, Gigi, Roman Holiday, or Pillow Talk. Or even the contemporary favorites like Under the Tuscan Sun, You've Got Mail, Sleepless in Seattle, When Harry Met Sally, A Walk to Remember, The Notebook, Moonstruck, Splash, Moonstruck, Untamed Heart, Titanic, and Never Been Kissed. Yup, you can always find love and all of the feelings tenderness in these films and more. I'm a sucker for a happy ending, especially if it involves people falling in love and finding their way to each other, no matter what the obstacles. And the obstacles are varied and even surprising. Unlike a certain network I know too much about. You do know which one I'm talking about, do you? You don't? You mean that you don't see the advertisements for all of their Christmas, Valentine's Day, Christmas in July, and Autumn films repeated nonstop during their respective seasons? Now do you know which channel I'm talking about? Yup. It's the dreaded Hallmark Channel. I'm probably one of the few people that avoids this network like the plague because of their films. For starters, they seem to do nothing but romantic comedies and romantic dramedies, and in a squeaky clean way without any major conflict. Given that it's a family friendly network, I can understand that. But when they repeat the storylines over and over and over again, it starts to lose its luster and credibility. For instance... A prince comes to NYC for an escape from royal duties and falls in love with an event planner who loves Christmas. Or... A big name musician tires of the big city and retreats back to their small town hometown to rediscover themselves and falls in love with their former beau. Or... A grumpy CEO hates Christmas and has to work with a cheery assistant to help get the Christmas spirit back and falls in love with her. (These are completely made up scenarios from right off the top of my head, mind you.) You see my point? It seems like Hallmark is banking more on recycling and reusing the same old plot lines again and again rather than investing in original ideas and plot lines that can carry something more than just the feelings of tenderness and hopes of finding your Prince Charming in a pond of frogs. Something like... I don't know. Depth, maybe? That's what the vast majority of Hallmark Channel films lack the most. Nobody wants varied adventures in romance anymore. Nobody wants to slow down and enjoy the ordinary days in extraordinary ways anymore. Nobody wants to have the heightened suspense of "will he?" "will she?" anymore. Nobody wants to actually think anymore. The network is banking on this overused, overdone, and over-nauseating plots to help bring in viewers and money. It seems to work because they don't do anything else. Nothing like they used to. Oh. Could it be that you may not know that the Hallmark Channel used to do more than just romance films that are overused, overdone, and over-nauseating? It's true. They did! And these films and shows actually had depth. And it was still family friendly. Forgive me for being the Grinch against the Hallmark Channel, but it's not entertaining if there's no originality and depth to their films like they used to have. And it's causing the audiences not think anymore. It's only causing them to be entertained. Which says a lot about many of the films of today. I promise you, this week's blog post isn't going to be overused, overdone, or over-nauseating. I hope that this carries some much-needed depth in my observations of this network... As well as allows you to think about it for a while. Just in time for Valentine's Day. Just one thing: You better not sit in front of a Hallmark Channel movie when you're reading this. You may not like what I have to say for this week's post.

There actually was a time when the Hallmark Channel was more than just romantic comedies, let alone the same ones recycled over and over and over again. When I was growing up, there was something for every one to watch on this network: Drama. Mystries. Suspense. Literary adaptations.

Fairy tale retellings. Comedy. And it seemed to balance out the romance films without it becoming overwhelming or overly sweet. Some of these films actually had stories that got me excited about watching them because I know that the story will be good, fun, and features depth for all of the characters. Heck, I remember watching Hallmark's version of A Christmas Carol with Sir Patrick Stewart at Scrooge. Or Beauty and the Beast with George C. Scott as the Beast, and his wife, Trish Van Devere as Belle. Or Relative Stranger with Eriq La Salle. Or the miniseries The 10th Kingdom with Kimberly Williams Paisley, John Larroquette, Dianne West, and Ann Margaret. Or Moby Dick with Sir. Patrick Stewart. Or Jack and the Beanstalk: The Real Story with Matthew Modine, Mia Sara, and Vanessa Redgrave. Or Snow White: The Fairest of Them All with Kristen Kruek, and Miranda Richardson. Are you starting to get my point? There were films that were still family oriented, but it wasn't all about love, let alone the recycled storylines that seem to inundate the network nowadays. And more importantly, they appealed to all ages and races without the films being one-sided in one genre that seemingly appeals to everyone. And even more importantly, these films had depth. Name me one Hallmark Channel rom-com from 2014 on that has the same kind of depth. Go ahead, I'm waiting. There seems to be a growing movement of doing remakes of series and films that are updated for current audiences and bring a sense of nostalgia from the original shows and films that aired over 20 years ago or more. Much of the original cast has returned, along with same people who worked on the show when it first made it to TV or the big screen. Or they is a new team of people doing these projects to help reflect the changing times and themes that weren't explored as much when the episodes originally aired. It's nice to see remakes and revivals of the shows and films we grew up with and loved. But there's just one problem with all of these remakes: Nobody wants to create new, original projects anymore. Nobody has new ideas to connect with their audiences. Nobody has the tolerance to see characters and stories that have depth, and only wants to stick with what they know. Hence, that's why you see so many shows being canceled after three seasons or less. In layman's terms, people just want to be entertained without much thought or original stories that can be just as meaningful and timeless as the classics have always been. It seems that today's audiences don't care about the themes, characters, or plots but would rather sit back, relax, and be entertained with the films and shows that are within their comfort zone. Could be that as audience members we've lost our sense of adventure and our craving for great stories? And all that we want is to be entertained, nothing more? I get it - these past few years have been rough on all of us and we need some form of escape from the polarizing politics, crises overseas, and growing racism and every phobia under the sun. But there's a huge difference in escapism, especially if the films and shows are recycling and replaying the same plots and characters over and over again. And having no space for original ideas and the stories that matter.

It's becoming a problem for the past few years, not just on the Hallmark Channel, but just about everywhere.

And it doesn't seem to be stopping anytime soon.

One point I better elucidate is that this isn't the first time remakes or recycled stories have been seen on TV and the silver screen.

It's been happening for as long as the cinemas and Hollywood studios were in business together.

Some of the classic films from the 30s were remade in the 50s to bring in a fresh perspective for new audiences, whether that's new cast members, new songs, and new imagery that fits with the times.

The problem with remakes these days is that there's a sense of laziness and sticking with the original material from the original show that's expected to bring in money and some laughs from audiences.

Not to mention the constant need to recycle the stories over and over again in order to get viewers to watch the film or TV show.

It seems that depth and original storytelling doesn't matter as much as money does.

And when you only focused on money, that creates a whole world of problems in the content, characters, and overall plot just to make the big bucks.

It also causes audience members to not want to be able to think like they used to years past, and all they care about is being entertained. Nothing more.

And that's a problem I see with all of the Hallmark Channel movies from the past eight years.

They used to be adept at telling wonderful stories that has something for everyone, and it wasn't just rom-coms.

Now that they've developed so many rom-coms, I take that back, ONLY rom-com movies, they're only creating these films for the very purpose of entertainment and have any depth to the stories or plots.

And to make matters worse, they're consistently recycling and reusing the same plots on a regular basis in order to keep their streak of success going.

But it's unfortunately leaving the fans who crave for more things beyond the rom-coms and mindless entertainment out.

Hallmark has done away with "something for everyone" and is only looking to the fans of rom-coms to help make the big bucks, recycling plot lines and no depth notwithstanding.

"But Nessa, I love the Hallmark Channel films! They're so sweet and sentimental. Why do you hate them so much?"

Well, to be honest, I'm not a fan of these films for several reasons:

They tend to use the same storylines in different locations and titles that is starting to become a little bit too old and lifeless.

And then, this reason may surprise you.

A film that has no depth or allows audiences time to think is just fluff.

Mindless entertainment.

Not very enjoyable.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy a good romance like anyone else. But when Hallmark relies solely on rom-coms to make them successful and draw in their audiences, it makes me frustrated.

It makes me frustrated that they've turned away from having "something for everyone" other than rom-coms, and turned it into a network where it's only about love.

I like a bit of variety in what I watch on TV and the silver screen, and not have it be one-sided and is on constant repeat of recycled stories just to draw me in solely for entertainment.

Even with the holidays, the films are still the same, and to me, the same exact plot lines, similar characters, and constant romance can get kind of dull.

For me, I want the Hallmark Channel that offered a little bit of everything for audiences: mysteries, drama, literary adaptations, suspense, and romance. It's not fun being one-sided and only offering the same rom-coms to audiences over and over and over again.

Don't they see that it's starting to get a tad bit too old when that's all the network is producing?

And dividing the other genres into two separate channels isn't the answer, either.

Maybe they should consider going back to what they do best:

Telling stories that's for EVERYONE, and more than just the recycled rom-coms.

(It's always a good day to share what's on my mind and the world surrounding me, but I need to remind you that these are my thoughts and observations. You are more than welcome to disagree with everything I've said in this post, or the ones that came before it. What I won't tolerate is any disrespectful speech, offensive language, or bullying others. We need to be kind, understanding, and patient with each other, and being mean to others is not the way to go. If you decide you spew any hate speech towards me or anyone who comments on my blog posts, I WILL block you.)

This is certainly not the blog post to share a few short days before Valentine's Day, but it's one that's been nagging at my mind for a while.

Maybe I have different expectations of my films, and it doesn't involve mindless entertainment, or "fluff" as some people call it.

Maybe my expectations are too high for what I expect out of films on TV and the silver screen, and for good reason.

Nobody wants to go the movies to think, feel, or even make memories anymore.

It's gotten to the point where everyone just wants to be entertained without any opportunities for thinking, reflecting, and simply feeling all of the emotions a film can bring.

I remember a time where I would go to the movies, and always carry something substantial with me after I leave. It could be a memory, a song, a character, or the whole story.

Films and TV shows are not just for entertainment. It never has been just that, and it never will be just about that.

And films and TV shows should not be one-sided to a particular group of people. It should be made for everyone to enjoy.

Dear Hallmark Channel, please bring back the feel good stories that are for everyone, not just relying on recycled rom-coms to be successful. We need the mysteries, drama, suspense, comedy, literary adaptations, fairy tale retellings, and original stories to help balance out the plethora of rom-coms to allow everyone to feel like they're a part of the story. Please get rid of the mindless fluff you show during the holidays, and bring back the films that are not solely for entertainment, but allow us to reflect, think, and feel. Don't forget those of us who crave variety in their storytelling on your network. Please bring back the stories that truly matter, and make the network belong to everyone.

I hope that's not too much to ask, and I hope you'll take what I have to say into consideration. Thank you for your time.


A concerned actor & writer.

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