The Hallmark Channel’s Three Wise Men is the most-watched cable tv movie of 2022.
The Holiday Season is upon us, and nothing says “holidays” like Hallmark. Variety reports that the Hallmark Channel’s Three Wise Men and a Baby is the most-watched cable TV movie of 2022. A riff on director Leonard Nimoy’s 1987 film Three Men and a Baby, Hallmark’s latest hit delivers laughs and heart while representing the new storytelling avenues Hallmark is willing to explore.
The Hallmark Channel has dominated the holiday TV movie market for two decades. Its relentless release of original movies each holiday season is a joke to some and a sacred tradition for others. While the films certainly have a formula, Hallmark is stepping outside of its gift-wrapped box and, in the case of Three Wise Men and a Baby, the risks are paying dividends.
The romance story that drives basically every Hallmark holiday film took a backseat to this film. Three Wise Men and a Baby, which cheekily features Three Men and a Baby star Margaret Colin, tells the story of three brothers who must care for an abandoned baby during the days leading up to Christmas. The departure from Hallmark’s love story formula made this TV movie the second-highest viewed cable production of the week, falling only to the Paramount Network’s Yellowstone.
The network’s strategic shifts also include a concerted effort at representation. The Hallmark Channel’s storied success has long been criticized for its lack of diversity. The channel is using its hefty TV movie slate to address these criticisms.
This year, Hallmark is telling stories that explore the holiday traditions of different cultures and religions. They are also opening their lineup to stories about the LGBTQ+ community. While some say Hallmark’s efforts at diversity are not yet enough to reflect the real America, others have chastised the channel for investing in TV movies that compromise its “traditional family values.”
This ideological split has seen the exit of several Hallmark Channel regulars both on and off the screen. One such star is Candace Cameron, who has been a TV movie star and the self-appointed Queen of Christmas for years at the Hallmark Channel. The Full House actress has been vocal about her desire to continue making the types of movies that gave the Hallmark Channel its family-friendly reputation.
Cameron has been criticized for her remarks, but that hasn’t stopped her or any of her cohorts from pursuing their exclusive brand of entertainment elsewhere. The philosophical split at Hallmark is the latest dialogue in an ongoing conversation about what it means to be family-friendly. The issue goes well beyond the TV movie; the entertainment industry at large, especially at the studio level, where conservative and foreign audiences are relied on to turn a profit, continues to wrestle with the price of progress and stances on controversial topics.
The Hallmark Channel, while perhaps not yet hitting the slopes, is at least playing in the snow when it comes to providing a more diverse slate in its annual Countdown to Christmas. The success of Three Wise Men and a Baby may bolster Hallmark’s confidence in its approach to storytelling down the line, indicating an evolution in the channel’s tried-and-true tradition. As for this year, Three Wise Men and a Baby can be seen alongside other Hallmark TV movie outings on Peacock or on the channel’s proprietary streaming service Hallmark Movies Now.