Lesbians Aren’t Too Happy with ‘Happiest Season’

WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD & Triggering Coming Out-Based Content

It’s no huge secret that there’s a new lesbian holiday movie out called Happiest Season. At first, we were ecstatic. After seeing it, however, some lesbians are not quite as in love with the film as they thought they would be (Like AfterEllen’s own, hear more on our podcast).

Let’s back it up.

For those of you of haven’t seen Happiest Season, on the surface it seems to be wonderful lesbian representation. Directed by Clea DuVall and starring Kristen Stewart and Aubrey Plaza… you really cannot go wrong!

Happiest Season is about Harper (played by Mackenzie Davis) bringing her girlfriend Abby (played by Kristen Stewart) home for the holidays. However, Harper has not come out to her rather conservative parents yet, and tells her family that Abby is simply her roommate. As the story unfolds, viewers are in for a tumultuous ride, one that many lesbians have been through before.

The buzz around this film was insane, as lesbians and bi women around the world shared in their excitement. Understandably so, because it’s definitely time we have a lesbian holiday film. It was a chance to normalize lesbian relationships, and shift the focus off of stereotypes and instead enjoy a sweet, wholesome, home-for-the-holiday’s film. Right?

Unfortunately, that’s not how Happiest Season played out, and lesbians were not having it. The focus of the film quickly became about Harper being in the closet, and the confusing tension that causes for Abby. Yet another coming out story. Harper does not ever come out on her own, either; she is outed by her sister Sloane (played by Alison Brie) during a holiday party. Thus, this particular scene and the ones to come are incredibly triggering to many lesbians and bisexual women in the community, as it mirrors their own personal experiences. Yikes.

“I think the part that triggered me the most in Happiest Season is when Sloane outs Harper because my brother did the same thing to me and my instinct reaction was to deny like Harper did and it hurt so bad. I really hate myself for it,” Les Mell said on Twitter.

“Leave it to lesbians to call a movie ‘Happiest Season’ and it’s 1 hour and 40 minutes of abject emotional suffering,” Twitter user Jes Tom said.

Speaking of coming out, Happiest Season does not live up to its name. It is yet another coming out centered film, and lesbians had a lot to say about that too.

Not to mention, not all the actresses in the film were lesbians or bisexual, for that matter.

In an interview with Variety, Stewart comments on this saying, “I would never want to tell a story that really should be told by somebody who’s lived that experience. Having said that, it’s a slippery slope conversation because that means I could never play another straight character if I’m going to hold everyone to the letter of this particular law. I think it’s such a gray area.”

Stewart calls this a gray area, and maybe it is. With a director like out-lesbian Clea DuVall leading the team, it is clear that a lot of herself was found in Abby’s character, so maybe the story was told exactly how she wanted it to be. That’s all we can really ask for, right?

On the flip side, lesbians were all here for Aubrey Plaza’s performance as Riley (Harper’s first girlfriend, who she outed and pretended not to be in a relationship with. Yeah.)

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Lesbian Twitter went nuts for Riley, so much so that they turned against Harper as the protagonist and wanted Abby to end up with Riley.

Thank you, Aubrey Plaza, for redeeming this film. At least there’s that.

It seems the general consensus surrounding Happiest Season isn’t all bad. While many were triggered by Harper’s coming out (in more ways that one) at the end of the day, it is nice to have more reprenstation. Even if that representation is played out by straight actors.

Baby steps, people!

Happiest Season is Hulu’s highest rated original film to date, scoring also a 95% on Rotten Tomatoes. It is now streaming on Hulu, so you can develop your own personal love/hate relationship with it.

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  1. Why is everyone suddenly obsessed with only gay/bi actors/actresses playing gay/bi characters? They are actors its literally their job to be what they are not, it shouldn’t matter their sexuality. If you say that only gays can play gays then the reverse should be true and only straight can play straight. This type of logic would limit the roles gay actors would have.

  2. It had some really good scenes and it had some bad ones too. I liked the movie but maybe it’s because of my own lack of being outed. That is traumatic for anyone and seeing it played on screen would be at the least uncomfortable and at the most reopening old wounds. The supporting characters stole the show. I really felt the acting by the rest of thevfamily and all the other cast members kept the movie afloat (I love Jane and she deserves the world). Also, Abby and Riley should have ended up together. The way Harper acted towards Abby shouldn’t have been easily forgiven. Who treats the love of their life like that?

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