30 Feminist Christmas Movies, Ranked

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It’s A Wonderful Life, Screencap via Liberty Films/RKO Radio Pictures

It’s A Wonderful Life

This often recreated and parodied Christmas classic focuses on George Bailey, who, because of major financial issues, is considering suicide on Christmas Eve. Clarence, an angel, is sent down on an emergency dispatch to help convince George to save his own life. George is convinced that the world will be better off without him, so Clarence decides to show him all the ways that he has improved the world. Whether it’s saving his war-hero brother when they were children, or developing housing for dozens of townspeople, George is reminded of how he has changed people’s lives for the better.

The Good

  • Mary as a character defies the expectations put on her for a woman at that time. She is all set to marry a man she doesn’t love, who has money, and she gives it up to be with George, though he isn’t wealthy.

The Bad

  • This one also doesn’t pass the Bechdel test. Maybe that’s because…
  • …Mary is really the only significant female character. Sure, there is Violet, Mary’s mother, her daughters, etc., but they don’t really get to have anything meaningful to do with the story.
  • Mary only really exists as far as her relationship to George. But I sort of give this one a pass, because that’s how all the characters are, pretty much. The movie is about what it would be like if George was never born, so all the characters, even the male ones, are only relevant in relationship to George.

The Ugly

  • In the dystopian, George Bailey-less, worst-case-scenario version of Bedford Falls, can you guess what horrific fate befalls Mary? She’s a librarian, and she’s single. That’s the worst possible thing that could happen to her, apparently. How would she have ever survived without George to save her from spinster-ism?!