The alternative reality of this year's crop of holiday movies is an insult to viewers, says Greg Braxton. Christmas films shooting after the start of the pandemic, he says, "had an opportunity their competitors didn’t to hint at the fact that this year is different, whatever we may wish, and it would have been a sign of respect for their viewers. Facing the truth does not mean eliminating perennial messages of faith, hope and gratitude: If anything, 2020 has heightened the importance of those values for many, not lessened it." Braxton adds: "The nation’s woes are absent in this torrent of cheerful content, which started in late October and will continue unabated until Christmas...These films have always been set in an alternate reality that has nothing to do with the real world or the anxiety, depression, even despair experienced by scores of people during the holidays. But in 2020 — widely regarded as one of the worst years in modern American history — these movies’ commitment to making merry at all costs seems especially out of touch, not least because the pandemic has killed so many (more than 300,000 in the U.S. to date) and made it impossible for a significant number of families to say goodbye to their loved ones in person. After all, these movies don’t air in a vacuum. They’re interrupted by ads, many of which do acknowledge the difficulty of this year. And for families whose gift-wrapping or tree-trimming celebrations — on hold because of the pandemic — often include a screening of seasonal favorites, these ostensibly uplifting titles are as liable to be a painful reminder of better times as they are a respite from bad ones. Whether and how much we need a distraction from this dire winter is debatable. So is the question of whether movies filmed this year under restrictions of social distancing and mask wearing bear a responsibility to acknowledge reality in their narratives, however obliquely. But ultimately, there is little upside in denial."