Why Harper in ‘Happiest Season’ Wasn’t Toxic

OPINION: Harper Caldwell, In Defense of Harper Caldwell

It’s been over three years since Clea DuVall’s lesbian Christmas movie Happiest Season debuted on Hulu. And I think it’s time the community reassess the film — especially the character Harper.

None of us were at our most generous during December 2020. It was still peak pandemic. Death and sadness and capitalism and boredom were all around. Lesbians needed something to bond over, a way to form community from our separate homes. And so, I believe, we chose getting angry at a perfectly love Christmas movie centering on a flawed — but human! — character.

Coming out to family is hard. No one should have to come out before they’re ready. And, sure, some people might say Harper should’ve at least been upfront with her girlfriend Abby. But if you think about it, coming out about not having come out is also a kind of coming out and, I repeat, queer people should never have to come out before they’re ready.

Others might say that Harper’s treatment of her ex Riley shows a repeated pattern, but Harper and Riley dated as teenagers. Now you want to start trying teenagers as adults? I find that to be a very troubling suggestion. As a queer community, we should work toward forgiveness, especially toward children. I don’t think we should start arguing for queer kids to get in trouble just for being queer. What are we? Republicans??

And okay, fine, Mom and Dad are Republicans. But they joined the party during a different time! Republicans were much different before Trump. Harper’s parents are Reagan Republicans. Reagan never did anything bad to gay people. He was an actor! Nancy had lots of gay friends!

In conclusion, I think we can all agree that Harper wasn’t that bad and it’s great Abby gave her a second chance. I think we can also agree that Abby should give her a third chance.

Abby, if you’re reading this I’m sorry I told my new boss you were my friend please call me.

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Harper Caldwell

Harper Caldwell is a Pittsburgh-based journalist and cultural critic. She is best known for her viral essay in The Cut titled, "Christmas With Conservative Parents: The Ultimate Test for a Lesbian Relationship." Her other bylines include Refinery29, Jezebel, and AfterEllen.

Harper has written 1 article for us.


  1. “In conclusion, I think we can all agree that Harper wasn’t that bad”

    I know this is ragebait, but NO. Also I watched the film just after watching Get Out, so I was feeling extra hostile to Harper, lol.

  2. “Reagan never did anything bad to gay people” Are you kidding me? He did the worst disservice to gay people in modern history by completely ignoring the AIDS crisis. Hundreds of thousands of people died because of his indifference. Know your history.

  3. Okay I had to jump into say I laughed out loud at the “AfterEllen” byline mention. Wheeewww.

    Also, always amused by people not realizing what day it is. Myself included, but it started and ended with the first paragraph of the scissoring post.

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