Hallmark Movies Sometimes Get A Bad Rap, But Danica McKellar Defends The Ones She’s Made Over The Years

Danica McKellar in santa hat in Christmas at the Drive-in
(Image credit: Great American Famiy)

Danica McKellar has had a big 12 months. After a long and storied career on the Hallmark network, the Crown for Christmas actress shifted to GAF, where she’s continued to focus on family fair. While the love and family stories the networks explore have sometimes gotten a bad rap, Danica McKellar says there’s a big reason she’s so invested in the type of content she’s been putting out in recent years. 

In an interview touching on a wide range of topics, including her Hallmark days and her shift to Great American Family, Danica McKellar says she loves making Hallmark movies. She’s really proud of roles she’s taken for the network, noting that her recent acting work “promotes women and women's stories.” It’s a far cry from roles she was offered earlier in her career. She told Insider

Historically, if you look at most movies, it's mostly guys. I've been in the business for over 30 years, and to have gotten to tell these stories and not be 'the girlfriend of' or 'the wife of' or 'the daughter of,' it's been wonderful

The actress  of course is historically known as the actress who played Winnie Cooper, the infamous love interest of Kevin Arnold, who himself was the protagonist of The Wonder Years. She said after the role made her famous, she was recognized for it everywhere, even though she was trying to find her way in the world of math. It took her a long time, as she put it to “find out how I was valuable outside of Winnie Cooper.” 

Danica McKellar ultimately took a break from acting for years before returning for Hallmark and other gigs and it sounds like those roles were empowering for her. Though to her point, historically a lot of projects have been like this for women, not just the ones offered to her. 

To note, Hallmark movies have gotten a bad rap in recent years. There is the criticism Hallmark movies are too predictable. Lacey Chabert recently pushed back on the idea they are too "formulaic" noting the strides the network has made "to leave the audience a little bit surprised." There's also been criticism the network hasn't been friendly enough to POC and LGBTQ+ storytelling, a narrative the cable channel has been working to change.

But Danica McKellar says she had only a positive experience during her time working at the network. She still is supportive of Hallmark projects, including her pals who did Three Wise Men and A Baby this holiday season. She only left, as she's noted prior, because GAC gave her new opportunities, like producing and taking more charge of her own projects. 

I've done 16 movies for the Hallmark Channel and I loved my time there. In this network I get a much more hands-on role with executive producing, and it's really exciting to sign this multi-picture deal with them and be creating movies.

Danica McKellar was one of a rash of former Hallmark stars to leave for GAC, with some of the other big names including Jen Lilley and Candace Cameron Bure. While Bure landed some backlash for wanting to tell "traditional marriage" stories, there's seemingly been room for both networks to compete. Though, I will miss Danica McKellar in Matchmaker Mysteries in particular. 

Jessica Rawden
Managing Editor

Reality TV fan with a pinch of Disney fairy dust thrown in. Theme park junkie. If you’ve created a rom-com I’ve probably watched it.