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The last month plus has gone pretty well for everyone associated with Happiest Season. The holiday rom-com scored pretty positive reviews from critics, generated pretty good word of mouth from a majority of viewers and broke opening weekend viewership numbers on Hulu. That impressive combination will undoubtedly open up plenty of doors and plenty of wallets for co-writer and director Clea Duvall, but she’s focused on the message it sends to all the major players about the type of content audiences want.
The Veep star spoke to Reuters about her experience making the movie, the reaction it has gotten from fans and what it means to have an LGBTQ story do so well with general audiences. For her, she thinks it should serve as a signal to the decision-makers that people want diverse content and when they get it, they’ll be more than happy to consume it and recommend it to their friends. Here’s a portion of her quote…
In my lifetime, I’ve never seen a movie like this be given the platform that this film has. To see it embraced so much from everyone, not only the LGBTQ community, but just general audiences as well, it really shows streamers and studios and networks that creating content like this is something that audiences are hungry to see.
When it comes to so-called niche content, whether it be stories with LGBTQ subject matter or stories with diverse leads, there’s always a chicken or the egg scenario. Is it allegedly less popular because it doesn’t have mega-famous talent behind it or because it doesn’t have the marketing budget and exposure to provide awareness or is it less popular because it’s less popular and doesn’t warrant better talent and bigger marketing budgets? It’s not fair to put that question on one movie’s shoulders, but even so, it’s likely both exciting and a huge sigh of relief for Duvall and her collaborator Mary Holland to see their LGBTQ story do so well. It’ll almost certainly open more doors to more creators to tell their own authentic stories.
And that’s good because some of the conversation surrounding Happiest Season (at least apart from how freaking awesome the sister Jane is and who Abby should have ended up with) has been about how many viewers want LGBTQ stories that are about more than just coming out. YouTube personality Breanne Williamson discusses that extensively here, but the basic message is that LGBTQ viewers don’t have any one single perspective and we need more movies to speak to that. Clea Duvall, who borrowed from some feelings and situations from her own past to make Happiest Season, is hinting at those same sentiments in the above quote, and she stated it more directly later in the interview when she offered the following thoughts on the future…
This is one of hundreds of thousands of stories that represent a version of the LGBTQ+ experience. I’m really excited to see what movies come next.
Thanks to the success of Happiest Season, we will almost certainly see plenty of other filmmakers barge through that door and make LGBTQ movies with bigger casts and bigget budgets, supported by more commercials. They will almost certainly provide us with plenty of different perspectives to consume too. If most of them are as good as Happiest Season, we’ll all be in for a treat too.