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Hallmark and Lifetime do Hanukkah. Oy vey.

  • COURTESY HALLMARK CHANNEL 
                                A scene from “Double Holiday,” which airs at 
2 p.m. today and 6 p.m. Thursday on the Hallmark Channel.

    COURTESY HALLMARK CHANNEL

    A scene from “Double Holiday,” which airs at 2 p.m. today and 6 p.m. Thursday on the Hallmark Channel.

Hallmark Channel, under increased scrutiny for its noticeable lack of diverse stars, is somewhat widening its offerings this season beyond formulaic Christmas romance movies by sprinkling some Hanukkah into the lineup — with mixed results. “Holiday Date” (airs 2 p.m. Tuesday) and “Double Holiday” (airs 2 p.m. today and 6 p.m. Thursday) each have their very own Nice Jewish Lead for the Not Jewish Other Lead to fall in love with. Lifetime, too, joined in this month with “Mistletoe &Menorahs” (airs 4 p.m. today and 8 a.m. Tuesday).

But these aren’t exactly Hanukkah movies — not entirely, anyway. In the Hallmark-Lifetime Cinematic Universe, Hanukkah and the characters who celebrate it exist only in relation to Christmas. The Jewish holiday serves as more of a plot point than a charming, wintry aesthetic.

Take Christy, the shiksa protagonist of “Mistletoe &Menorahs,” who in eight days — naturally — must become a Hanukkah expert to impress a Jewish prospective client and land an account. Learning new traditions from her very cute, very Jewish counterpart is just another box to check so Christy can reach her goals and find love.

Or take the small-town family in “Holiday Date,” who learn the man their daughter brought home is Jewish and immediately turn the film into a cross-cultural infomercial. We get mechanical, textbook definitions of menorahs and sufganiyot and dreidels.

A necessary disclaimer: These films can’t be critiqued as high art. There’s a reason they have a devoted following, after all: They’re delightfully predictable, easily digestible. You know there’ll be a happy ending, usually after a snowball fight where the characters fall on top of each other and their faces end up this close.

But I’m not looking to break the formula. I’m not even looking for much representation on the Hanukkah front; Christmas movies are the holiday films I’ve grown up with.

My bar for a good holiday film is low: I want to see some snow, I want to see some people fall in love in said snow, and I don’t want to feel like my holiday is being Christmasplained.

That’s why “Double Holiday,” about two office rivals planning a holiday party, is easily the most tolerable of the three. For one, the love interest doesn’t seem utterly perplexed by Judaism. This time, it’s the non-Jew who has to adapt, and he does so with a refreshing dose of normalcy.

Hallmark and Lifetime don’t need to reinvent the candy cane here. When you think about it, Christmas isn’t really at the heart of these Christmas movies at all. There are trees and stockings and true love and all that, sure. But Christmas movies aren’t religious. They’re not even all that spiritual — they’re just spirited. There’s no reason the films that throw some Hanukkah in should be any different.

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