Amanda Sakuma
Senior Editor, GEN
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Photos: Hallmark

I have a confession to make: I know very little about the Hallmark Channel canon of holiday romance films. The TV in my childhood home picked up fewer than 10 channels on any given day; family-friendly melodramas were not part of the regular programming. Yet over the years, I’ve heard the many infamous tropes that define a Hallmark classic: the interchangeable character archetypes, the predictable storylines, the wholesome, open-hearted outlook on the world. It’s mindless nostalgia tied neatly with a bow, which not so ironically is all our pandemic-addled brains can process these days.

If there ever were a time to succumb to the pull of Hallmark’s feel-good genre of films, then 2020 might be it. And like many cultural artifacts that simultaneously delight and confuse, Hallmark has attracted a cult-like fandom that’s just as interesting to watch as the movies themselves. These self-proclaimed fans have me nearly convinced there is more to Hallmark movies than the “happily ever after” you can spot from a mile away. Or maybe that’s all we need right now — to finally be able to see what’s ahead. …


America was wrestling with a loneliness epidemic even before the pandemic hit. But as Caren Lissner wrote in GEN last year, the factors feeding into a person’s loneliness can be complex and difficult to overcome. We as a society need to rewire our mindset around what it means to be alone and how to feel connected with other humans, not just around the holidays but year-round.


A makeup artist rates Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani’s over-the-top makeup disasters. It’s straight out of central casting for B-movies and horror films, writes Sarah Graalman. You couldn’t come up with a more sinister-looking pair of characters because no one in Hollywood would greenlight a project with such on-the-nose lewks.

If you hired me as a makeup artist to design the over-all look and arc for a script (it’s my profession) for a bunch of cartoonishly evil characters, and I showed you images ripped from this administrations ‘makeup blueprint’ — every director or show-runner would say that my designs are lazy, messy, and not-realistic.


Did the Asian American vote make a difference in Joe Biden’s win? When we say “suburban voters” abandoned Donald Trump this election, many tend to assume we’re talking about white, middle-class, or upper-middle-class families.

But as Tim Wu notes, a growing Asian American population now lives in the suburbs, particularly around the major metropolitan areas in key swing states, like Georgia and Nevada. That’s not to say Asian Americans deserve credit for swinging these districts blue, but their influence is something to consider as our electoral demographics start to shift.


Here’s what it’s like to watch your dad get publicly fired by Donald Trump. Writer Sean Kernan delves into the backstory behind the abrupt decision by his father, Joseph Kernan, to leave his post as undersecretary of defense for intelligence in the Defense Department. The senior Kernan was one of several top Pentagon officials to either leave or get pushed out last week; all were replaced by Trump loyalists. Sean said his father’s resignation letter had been prepared for weeks, but after Trump unexpectedly fired Defense Secretary Mike Esper last Monday, his successor was quick to clean house.

“Sure, it would have been nice if Trump acted a little classier about the whole thing. But nobody is surprised,” Kernan wrote. “This is just history repeating itself. Dad didn’t take this job for the money or the glory. But he still deserved more respect on his way out.”


Worried the United States is careening toward an imminent coup? Timothy Snyder’s latest piece may not ease your anxieties, but it’ll at least help you identify the warning signs. The noted historian and Yale professor offers 20 considerations to bear in mind as Donald Trump continues to contest the 2020 election results. Chief among them: The Republican Party’s culpability in enabling Trump. “Persuading your voters that the other side cheated starts a downward spiral,” he writes. “Your voters will expect you to cheat next time. Take responsibility, Republicans.”


Why did thousands of Black voters decide to stand behind one of the most racist presidents in our nation’s history? Bonsu Thompson tries to wrap his head around why the Black vote for Trump jumped from 6% in 2016, to 10% in 2020.

First he reminded the forgetful of his token work — his HBCU contributions and the handful of African-American prisoners he pardoned… The second installment of Trump’s diversion strategy was to shower voters with Biden/Harris slander — both base and baseless — while spotlighting the Black bodies which swing from the resumés of both the former vice president and district attorney.


President Obama’s response to the 2016 election was far different than what we’re seeing now with Donald Trump. Kyle Herman was a White House staffer at the time, tasked with writing Obama’s formal responses to the emails and letters sent in by everyday Americans. Obama gave staffers a brief pep talk before he addressed the nation to accept Trump’s win and promised to ensure a peaceful transfer of power. Herman later posted on Facebook asking whether Trump would do the same if he lost reelection in four years. As we’re seeing now, the answer is a resounding “no.”

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