The next film I want to talk about is the Hallmark Channel made-for-TV movie called The Good Witch.
Now, for anyone who has read my writing online, this is probably not a surprising choice. The story consists of a woman named Cassie Nightingale who moved into the old Gray House in Middletown, your basic small town America. She is spooky and witchy, and of course, she enchants the local police officer Jake, who has two kids and has lost his first wife. This movie is made for Hallmark, and so, it can seem as if this plotline exudes cheese.
And it does. It is sappy and romantic, and it continues on for another couple movies where the two get married, have a baby, and have to deal with Martha, the local woman who likes to cause a fuss. I am getting giddy now just thinking about the rest of the story lines. I just love this movie, this series, and everything about it–especially the romance, and especially the hinted at real-life witch status of Cassie. Since this movie is not really a fantasy, her witch status is treated more holistically, as if she were really Wiccan or neo-pagan. Of course, this being Hallmark, they never actually use those words, but since Cassie owns her own occult shoppe, I’m just going to take the heavy connotation here as a fact. Cassie Nightingale is most likely Wiccan or neo-pagan.
Romance + witchy stuff is basically my own work. Throw in some queerness, some artist stuff, and a couple pets and it’s one of my novels or poems or something else. The Good Witch then manages to combine many of the things I love, so no wonder it is a favourite. If you knew me in person, and only went to my classes, though you might be surprised that this is one of my favourite films. After all, it’s a made for TV movie. Aren’t all of those supposed to be ‘bad’ and not worthy of serious study, like romance itself?
I do not need to defend romance or made for TV movies. I used to think I had to, but then I realized I was actually trying to defend myself and my own likes and desires. That was always going to be a losing battle, as Cassie Nightingale herself has found out in several films. You see, she is also a child of foster care, homeless for a while, with no solid sense of family. Cassie Nightingale is a chosen name. Her past could easily be used to keep her down, to cast her out, or to be forgotten about–but her past is integrated into her life. Her family’s lives. And the lives of those of Middletown, even Martha.
Cassie doesn’t need to defend what she loves, and so, I’ve learned from this series that I don’t have to either. I can write whatever types of stories I want, and I can love whoever I want in those stories and in my real life. That is tremendously freeing. I see that sense of freedom every time I watch these movies, or merely see a picture from Catherine Bell’s Instagram page (as she is the main actor for Cassie, and a producer for the show).
I have focused on the first film, though I am a fan of the others along with the TV show, because it has one scene that I feels sums up so much of what I like about these movies, and these types of movies (romance, Hallmark) broadly speaking. In one scene, Jake, the father, tells his kids it is time for bed. Then he follows up and asks about toothpaste. The line of dialogue, from a writer’s perspective, is actually pretty pointless. The main goal of the scene is to tell his kids they need to do something, so he can have the room to himself. But by then talking about the toothpaste, we are given an insight into the lives of the characters, and the pacing of the film, and the overall goals of those who made it. The line of toothpaste is not wasted. It is useful.
And it tells me so much. Toothpaste is important. It demonstrates Jake’s love for his daughter, even if on the screen itself, it is not necessary. His kids are already doing what they need to do for the scene to work. The toothpaste is extra. Bonus. And inside that bonus material, there is a strong core of love.
Those are the movies, novels, and stories that I want to be a part of. Toothpaste stories. I want to depict that love, and live there, rather than defend it anymore.