For the past few years, Tink has been writing and producing shows for the Hallmark Channel. And one thing has been an astounding awakening for us: Hallmark viewers are devoted and immensely grateful for family programming.
At church, if there’s a time of greeting, women will come over, hug his neck and say, “Thank you for one of my favorite shows.” Strangers approach us in restaurants or grocery stores and name every movie or show he’s written for Hallmark, then look him in the eye and say, “Thank you for putting something on TV that I can watch with my children.” One mother told us that she and her teenage daughter watch Hallmark faithfully and that her daughter says, “That’s the kind of romance I want.”
One of our house-sitters is so devoted that, when she stays while we are gone, I make sure every TV is turned to the Hallmark channel.
After one nice woman left our table in a restaurant in a town where we don’t live, Tink looked at me with bewilderment and said, “I’ve been in television all my life and I’ve worked on some pretty big, successful shows. But I have never – ever – had anyone thank me like they do with my work on Hallmark. It’s remarkable.”
Over Christmas, a movie that Tink had written (“A Godwink Christmas” starring Kathie Lee Gifford) was the third-most-watched telecast in Hallmark’s Movies and Mysteries Channel history; it was also one of the most viewed cable programs of the night. Considering there are hundreds of channels and that the movie played on Hallmark’s premium channel, which costs an additional subscription fee, much like HBO or Showtime, it’s particularly impressive.
When I tuned in to watch “A Godwink Christmas,” I got caught up in all of the other movies, as well. The sets are simply stunning. And while the plots are mostly predictable, I have decided, that is what people like: In a world of uncertainty, we like the comfort of predictability and that there will always be a happy ending.
A couple of years ago, Tink excitedly bounced into the room and announced he had found the perfect song for an episode of a series he was producing. A young woman was returning home from a tumultuous life in the big city. The song, which would play as she was wandering through her childhood home, was “The House That Built Me,” an enormous hit by country singer Miranda Lambert.
The song, about a woman who revisits her childhood home, has the line, “And I bet you didn’t know, under that live oak, my favorite dog is buried in the yard.”
Tink was playing the song but when it came to that line, the exuberance disappeared and his big smile turned to a frown.
“Oh,” he said a bit glumly, “Hallmark won’t approve this song. The dog dies.”
I burst out laughing. It’s happily true: dogs don’t die on Hallmark.
While the devotion of the Hallmark audience is surprising, it is the growth of one segment that is stunning: men.
Over the past year, numerous wives have said, “I came in the other day and found my husband watching the Hallmark Channel. When I caught him red-handed, he admitted that he watches it when I’m not around.”
“I like it,” one man said simply. “They show the good in people and, in the end, it all works out.”
A close friend is a farmer. A hard-working, rough, tough man. His hands are dry and calloused from the years he has worked, fighting against the elements, just trying to survive. He can tell us everything that’s on Hallmark, when the new movies air, and what time to watch.
It all boils down to this: People — men, women, children — are tired of the hatred and ugliness of the world.
We all want sweet, peaceful predictability.
Ronda Rich is the best-selling author of several books, including “Mark My Words: A Memoir of Mama.” Sign up for her newsletter at www.rondarich.com. Her column appears Tuesdays and on www.gainesvilletimes.com.