All She Wants For Christmas Is A Man

I’m actually a pretty big sucker for holiday movies. I have no idea why – the plots are non-existent, the acting is schlocky and the feel-good payoff at the end is already known within the first five minutes.

But let’s talk about the women. Women in Christmas movies ultimately find romance and love by the end, and they usually realize that’s all they’ve ever really wanted anyway and, like, whoa, how cool that it came at such a magical time of year? I don’t know about you, but I’ve never been luckier in love around the holidays than I have during the rest of the year…magic, schmagic.

I have a few examples from movies I’ve watched this season, predominantly on Lifetime (television for women, ugh, really?) and ABC Family.

Santa Baby featured a powerful executive-type woman  who happens to be Santa’s daughter. Santa has a heart attack, and she has to go home and help out. She applies her real world experience in streamlining and making things more efficient…and fails, of course. She also runs into an old flame and rekindles the love, much to the annoyance of her current beau, with whom she has to schedule simple dates. By the end, she figures out she didn’t really like the current beau. All she really wanted was her old flame, who she got. Yays!

Under The Mistletoe featured a woman who’d lost her fabulous husband a year prior and is struggling financially to keep her and her son alive. Ignore the fact that she still lives in a ginormous, expensive-looking house, because we all know there’s no way anyone in financial straits would think to sell the house and move into something cheaper. I mean, where would we get the angst? Her dead husband, by the way, lingers around as a spirit and colludes with her 11 year old son to hook her up with a new man – he wants his wife happy, after all. It just so happens there’s a contest that offers $50,000 to a “winning couple.” I never quite figured that bit out, but anyway…the woman goes out on dates, finds the guy she thinks is perfect but really just wants the money and eventually (though I don’t know how, as they shared very little screen time) falls in love with her son’s school counselor, who spent more time with the kid than she did during the course of the movie. Yays! She gets the perfect man (and he was hot – I watched because it was Michael Shanks in that role, heh.) and the money and her husband can finally rest in peace. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

I could probably give lots more examples of how these movies tend to portray women as strong and independent at first, but really they just want a man. All She Wants For Christmas was an actual title, and she actually wanted her man (despite having a brilliant business mind and lofty goals – she settled when her rich boyfriend offered her a job at home so she’d stick around. Why leave home when all the good stuff comes to you – the man, the job the man promotes you to…). The Road To Christmas portrayed a woman as a  successful, snobby photographer who wanted nothing but the safety and security of marriage…to a man she discovered was gay, but that’s okay because on the road trip she took to meet him in Aspen, she hitched a ride with a charming, blue-collar man and fell in love with him in two days and so managed her safety and security anyway, and this time with the right guy.

Awww, pass me the tissues.


  1. Jennifer Kesler says

    Lemme see if I can translate this one for you.

    “Ladies, this is your Patriarchy speaking. It has come to our attention that some of you are still obstinately rejecting some of us for the purposes of good lovin’. This is wrong. It is your duty to pick not the most attractive or wealthy mate, as that heathen Darwin suggested, but to pick men based on ME ME ME! Oh, god, Tiffany Prom Queen, I still ache when I think of your rejection lo these 35 years ago! I know you’re now the president of MegaProfit Enterprises and your husband’s a GQ model, but I bought that dream cottage in New Hampton you used to talk about it, and I made a little shrine to you in the front room, and none of my exes understand it, so please come back to me-“

    “The Patriarchy is experiencing technical difficulties. Please stay tuned for a message from Yahweh, the Christian God.”

    “Hello, my little chickadees, this is God. This is a season of giving, and what every woman wants is to give herself to a nice man. I know that may sound like it’s really what men want and this is all a roundabout way to get you to give them what they want. But it’s what you want, trust Me. And you also want a bowling ball with that man’s name on it! Yes, that’s the ticket.”

  2. sbg says

    PS, you also really don’t mind plying him with a fresh beer because you’re up anyway. It’s a joy to serve (oh, and it’s also part of your job, along with cooking dinner) during this blessed season of giving, isn’t it?

    Don’t worry, he’ll get you an enormous diamond ring, pendant or bracelet or maybe even a Lexus for Christmas. See how that all works out? No, no. You’re not kept. You’re also not silly for thinking diamonds and cars represent love.

    — God

  3. aizjanika says

    I also watched Under the Mistletoe because of Michael Shanks, but that movie just…underwhelmed me and pissed me off.

    That movie was all about how this woman couldn’t move on unless she had a new man in her life–as though that were the only way a person could possibly move on from losing someone important in his/her life. Everyone told her so in the movie.

    There were a lot of problems with that movie, but that was the biggest one for me. It didn’t even try to present the woman’s problems as, oh, I don’t know, maybe grief. No, all her problems were caused by the lack of a man, and all would be great for her again once she found the right man. Even her dead husband’s ghost thought so.

  4. Jennifer Kesler says

    You know, statistically, widowers remarry more quickly than widows. It’s men who more commonly seek to avoid grief by rushing into a new partnership, not women. But as always, they like to project their insecurities and flaws onto TV women and pretend it’s us, not them.

  5. sbg says

    Yes, that was a pretty big slap. What’s worse – they showed how much she needed a man in her life, not only for happiness, but to help bail her out of financial troubles. Her hubby didn’t have life insurance, but jeez, she should have been able to take care of herself and her son. But nope. A year later, she fretted and cried about the gigantic mortgage bills.

    Bet after she got together with the school counselor and won that prize money for getting together with the school counselor she was all bette.

  6. aizjanika says

    But I could have bought her inability to deal with her problems because of grief. I know that when I have stuff like that going on, everything seems bigger than it is, and I find it harder to deal with things.

    I could have understood that if they’d portrayed it that way in the movie, but you’re right. They made it seem like the answer to her problems was to have a man. That would fix her financial problems as well as her stress levels and inability to deal with life.

  7. SunlessNick says

    Her dead husband, by the way, lingers around as a spirit and colludes with her 11 year old son to hook her up with a new man – he wants his wife happy, after all.

    There’s a certain sweetness in a ghost trying to help the survivor move on (the thing that grated hardest about Ghost was the final message amounting to, “I’ll be waiting for you, so don’t go and find a new life, you hear?”). But there’s a certain vomitousness in the idea that a new man must be the way to move on.

  8. Jennifer Kesler says

    Yeah. As if all men are automatically good for your finances. Like there aren’t plenty of them who can make your financial troubles a whole lot worse in short order!

  9. Jennifer Kesler says

    Very true.

    I think if you told the same exact story just a little differently, it might work. It IS good that the ghost wants her to move on, and many people would naturally want their mate to find a new mate. And it could work out that this was indeed the right answer for her. But from SBG’s description it sounds like the movie never established that this was the right answer for her because its creative team took that as a given. Woman needs man to take care of her, end of story.

  10. sbg says

    Oh, sure, grief might have played a part – my big issue with these financial woes was that the only thing they showed in that regard was her weeping over the bills. I mean, logically, wouldn’t you think to sell the house? Downsize a bit?

    They “advertised” her as a successful, professional woman for that weird contest, but those facets apparently didn’t reach her personal life.

  11. sbg says

    Oh, by the end the ghost figured out that he was lingering around not for her, really, but for his own happiness. He couldn’t let go and so he had to work extra hard to get her to let go, so then he could as well. As soon as he was satisfied and happy, he got to skate off into the white light.

  12. aizjanika says

    But there’s a certain vomitousness in the idea that a new man must be the way to move on.

    That’s what bothered me the most. It was portrayed that having a man was the only way to move on. To be fair, in the little bit that we saw of the counselor’s life, it was implied that he needed a new woman to move on, too. *g* Either way: ew! *g*

  13. SunlessNick says

    He couldn’t let go and so he had to work extra hard to get her to let go, so then he could as well. As soon as he was satisfied and happy, he got to skate off into the white light.

    So her happiness was subordinate, just a means to an end for hos own? ‘Tis the season.

  14. sbg says

    The counselor story bugged me for another reason – how long did it take the guy for him to tell her that his wife was dead? I mean, jeez, how difficult is it to correct her when she references bringing the wife along? At least after the second time. That was yucky and weird, I thought.


  1. […] I’ve found, over the years, that particularly shallow chick flicks” and Christmas films are both really good candidates for this kind of thing. Perhaps that’s because, as sbg pointed out earlier this week, they’re often pretty much the same movies. Which, you know, is cool and all – except that the kinds of messages these films send about romance are kinda not cool: […]

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