What comes to mind when you think of Lifetime movies? Cheesy, sappy chick-flicks, right?
It’s true, the network has a reputation for producing mindless films for women that don’t require a lot of brain power to follow. They’re rainy day movies that are often made fun of and a man would never be caught watching. In all honesty, many women don’t like to admit they like to watch Lifetime and if they do, it’s part of some kind of punch line. What kind of self-respecting person would actually take a Lifetime movie seriously?
But if you actually pay attention to Lifetime’s holiday movies, you’ll notice something: a lot of the female characters represent the same kind of empowerment Emma Watson’s #HeForShe campaign seeks to inspire.
Though there are powerful actresses in Hollywood, female characters are still often marginalized in film. Many are housewives, girlfriends or some object of male desire, but not in Lifetime Christmas movies. Whether it be in their intelligence, career moves or the way they handle themselves in relationships, the central characters in these films are always female and usually in control (or at least taking steps to gain control) of their own lives. But that’s not to say they are anti-men, either. The characters still seek romance in their lives, as many women, as well as men, do.
Lifetime has done an excellent job of creating female characters in high-powered positions and who are not afraid to use their intelligence to help other people. For instance, the central character in The Real St. Nick is a psychiatrist and in Holly’s Holiday, the title character is an ad executive in New York City. In His & Her Christmas, Liz runs a small newspaper and isn’t afraid to use her ingenuity to go head-to-head with a big publication that is threatening to buy her out. In Holiday Baggage, the main character is a single mother and a pediatrician, which is no small task. In A Nanny for Christmas, the main role is a woman who graduated summa cum laude and is a creative, ambitious advertising account manager. She’s just been fired from her job, takes a position as a nanny and manages to save her new boss’s company with her creative pitch for a client they would have otherwise lost.
While looking for love is a common theme in a lot of Lifetime movies, their crop of holiday films are full of women that are taking control of their relationships and their lives. Holly in Holly’s Holiday comes to the conclusion that her search for men has been too superficial and looks deep within herself. The pediatrician in Holiday Baggage remains powerful in the face of divorce and seeks to rectify the relationship between her estranged husband and their daughters before final papers are drawn up. In On Strike for Christmas, a mother/wife refuses to be stepped on by her husband and sons and goes on strike until the males in her family learn to respect and appreciate her. Bottom line, they all make choices that are right for them and have the ability to make those choices, which is really what Emma Watson said her campaign is all about: letting women make their own choices and having the freedom to live their lives in the fashion they want to.