Radiation and Hallmark Movies


Radiation treatments are done. Four weeks, five days a week.

I got off easy, as far as cancer treatment goes. Still, stuff happens.

My radiation therapist, Angus, told me that skin damage from the radiation would become worse after the radiation stopped. He did not lie.

Radiation has left me fatigued, and with “radiation brain,” like I needed more brain fog.
The burns look like sunburn, angry red, but they are coming from within, not without. A nurse told me that the burns might heal in four weeks.

So. Fatigued, burned, and a little radiation brained. A person could feel a little less than fully functional.

Here is how bad it gets sometimes: last Sunday I watched movies on the Hallmark Channel.
In case you don’t know, Hallmark movies are pure romantic escapism.

I say movies, but there is basically one Hallmark movie: girl meets boy, conflict arises, conflict resolves, and at the last possible minute girl and boy realize that he/she was The One all along.

Happy ending.

The protagonists are always youngish – thirties, say – and always white, and always model attractive.

The movies are set in a small town, which the girl left in order to go to college and then to the big city to have her busy, shiny, career. She has a city boyfriend who is Mr. Wrong. She also has a female bff, or business partner, or personal assistant, who is sometimes not white. This is Hallmark’s nod to diversity.

This female sidekick is either telling Our Heroine to dump the chucklehead she’s dating, or at least bff knows the guy’s a chucklehead and hopes Our Heroine will come to her senses.
One day Our Heroine gets a call from home: someone has died or needs her help, or some darn thing.

She drops everything and goes back to her hometown.

Once there, she runs into The Guy.

Maybe her old high school boyfriend. Maybe a new guy in town.

The Guy is a bachelor who has taken over raising his sister’s children because she and her husband died in a plane crash. Or he’s a widower raising his own child alone. Or maybe he has a stick up his butt which he loses over the course of the movie as he falls for Our Heroine, or maybe he’s just gosh darn shucks country decent and has been helping her folks in her absence.

Whatever. By the end of the movie she has broken up with the city boyfriend and realized that her city life was a sham and delusion. She opens a cupcake store, or takes over running the ranch, or starts giving napkin folding lessons. Whatever she decides to do will provide her with a good living, because this is Hallmark land. Oh, and she finds true love with the Guy.
Sometimes one of the characters is a prince or princess. Sometimes Our Heroine is the one in the small town, and it’s The Guy who realizes his city life is all wrong. Slightly different conflicts, same ending.

On Sunday I was looking for something completely undemanding on television. It doesn’t get much less demanding than a Hallmark movie.

I watched two movies, and both movies annoyed me.

In the first one, Our Heroine’s job was to give violin lessons, and at night she and her sister played violin and piano duets as background music at a restaurant. At the end when the Guy realized he loved her, he ran to the restaurant where she was playing and took her in his arms to make his declaration. She set her violin down – where? Stage right out of sight. Then after the big kiss and embrace the two of them joined hands and ran out of the restaurant together, and I’m yelling, “The violin! The violin! What about the violin?” No musician would set their instrument down and run off without it. So I’m ready to write Hallmark a scorching letter about that.

Then the next movie began. First scene begins with a big title telling us the location: Bainbridge Island, Washington.


It was a snowy Midwest movie set if anything – five inches of snow on the ground the whole movie, quaint little gingerbread trimmed houses with not a Craftsman or a Victorian or Northwest modern in sight, and flat, straight streets. No hills, no forest, no curving roads.
Bainbridge Island, my left hind leg.

Oh well. At least while watching Hallmark movies I wasn’t thinking about physical pain or impeachment hearings or how the heck I’m going to get the house together for Thanksgiving. So those movies took me out of myself for a few hours.

By the way, I laugh, but if you think it would be easy to write a formulaic screenplay, or any screenplay, that would make it to production, I’d like to see you try it.