Even though same sex attraction is something that has been with the human race most likely since the dawn of humanity—I’m sure cavemen weren’t only clubbing cavewomen, if ya know what I mean—I have never known a time in “civilized” society where there wasn’t some type of stigma attached to same sex attraction. How weird is that? There are a ton of gay, lesbian, and bisexual people in this world, yet being attracted to someone of the same sex is something that a lot of people have felt they have needed to hide. This is the driving force pushing the story along in Clea Duvall’s sophomore effort, the romantic Christmas comedy, ‘Happiest Season.’
Abby (Kristen Stewart) and Harper (Mackenzie Davis) are in a serious relationship, they live together and are happily in love. Harper has to go home for Christmas to see her family and at first, her and Abby have decided that it would be best if Abby didn’t come along. But in an impulse of excitement, they soon change their tune and are merrily on their way to Harper’s family home. But before they can reach their destination, Harper reveals to Abby that she has lied to her parents about coming out, and they concoct a plan to conceal the truth until after the holidays. This is where this season’s shenanigans begin.
When we reach Harper’s home, we are introduced to her anal retentive mother Tipper (Mary Steenburgen), her conservative father Ted (Victor Garber) who is running for mayor, and her two sisters, the bitchy Sloan (Alison Brie) and Jane (Mary Holland), who is the underappreciated sibling of the three, by their parents. We also meet Sloan’s husband, Eric (Burl Mosley), who doesn’t seem to be anything more than a plot device to show some sister solidarity near the end of the film, and their two mischievous kids that have perfected a unified stare of death.
Most of the action takes place in the home, but this isn’t a one location film, so we do venture out into the town for some shopping, eating, and bar hopping. This is where we end up being introduced to the characters of Connor (Jake McDorman), who is Harper’s childhood friend and ex-boyfriend that Harper’s parents are trying to get her to romantically reconnect with, and we also run into Riley (Aubrey Plaza), another childhood friend of Harper’s, who also had a secret love affair with the closeted Harper.
Though much of the plot is initiated by Harper and her circumstances, most of the perspective comes from Abby. She is the one that is put into uncomfortable circumstances and awkward situations, as she is the outsider of the group. We also seem to be more emotionally connected to Abby as she is the one that has to struggle with her lover hiding who she is.
Clea Duvall—no relation to Robert or Shelly—is the daughter of actor Stephan ‘Steph’ Duvall. She came up in Hollywood as an actress, and you may know her from such 90’s faves like, ‘The Faculty’, ‘Girl, Interrupted’ or ‘But I’m a Cheerleader!’ She has been openly gay for quite some time, unlike Kristen Stewart who just came out in the past few years about being a gay. Not that any of that information matters or is necessarily anybody’s business, but it must feel good for them to have a platform to express something that they identify with.
The script was co-written by Duvall and Mary Holland, who just coincidentally happens to have the most funny one-liners in the film as Jane, but I’m sure that her dead-on, deadpan delivery, is what’s key to unleashing those laughs.