Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

From It’s A Wonderful Life to Lifetime: Tracing our eternal love of holiday films

What is it about a lushly decorated set, some steaming mugs of hot chocolate, and a little light romantic intrigue that just makes a movie feel so right around the holidays? From It’s A Wonderful Life to Lifetime’s ever-expanding slate of holiday films, movie viewers are often in search of cinematic comfort food around the holidays, and Hollywood is happy to oblige.

But why is that so often the case? Why don’t we mind that so many holiday films—especially on cable—follow almost the exact same story beats, save an ornament factory here and a “but something’s missing” big city podcast producer there. And why do we so often return to the same well of holiday classics come December, even if we’ve seen them a million times before?

To get to the root of these questions for our Why We Love series, we consulted a list of holiday movie experts, including actors, podcasters, screenwriters, and academic experts versed in the field. Lifetime’s EVP and Head Of Programming Amy Winter sat down with us to talk about why the network makes such an investment in Christmas every year. From the acting perspective, we’ve got Dash & Lily’s Troy Iwata and Dante Brown and Christmas On Wheels 

Tiya Sircar dropping knowledge about filming their snowy scenes. Jeanine Mason told us what it was like to sit near Dolly Parton for her role in Christmas On The Square, and Ben Lewis weighs in from his perspective as the star of Lifetime’s first LGBT-centric holiday movie, The Christmas Setup. We’ve also got holiday movie veterans who have moved into the director and producer space, like The Princess Switch and The Knight Before Christmas’ Vanessa Hudgens, and Christmas In Evergreen’s Holly Robinson Peete and Ashley Williams. (It’s the latter’s 10th Christmas movie, but who’s counting?) Danny Pellegrino and Jenna Brister dropped their fan-centric knowledge on us as hosts of A Very Merry Iconic Podcast, and two professors—Hamilton College’s Brent Rodriguez-Plate and the University Of Lethbridge’s Sean Brayton—gave us a more academic look at why we like what we like.

Graphic: Julie Mullins, featuring: Vanessa Hudgens, Danny Pellegrino, and Tiya Sircar.

Marah Eakin is the Executive Producer of all A.V. Club Video And Podcasts. She is also a Cleveland native and heiress to the country's largest collection of antique and unique bedpans and urinals.