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Happiest Season Director Breaks Down Film's Most Talked-About Scene

Contains major spoilers for Happiest Season

Happiest Season on Hulu is sparking all kinds of discussions online, proving to be the romantic-comedy the world needed right now. 

The film is noteworthy for being a holiday-themed rom-com where the focus is on a queer couple, Harper (MacKenzie Davis) and Abby (Kristen Stewart). The two go to spend the holidays with Harper's family, but Harper hasn't come out to her family yet, so she asks Abby to pretend they're just friends until she comes out after the holidays have passed. While hijinks ensue, there's also a lot of heartbreak; Abby is forced back into the closet, while Harper acts like a completely different person around her parents and old friends.

It all leads to a devastating climax where Harper's overly-competitive sister Sloane (Alison Brie) outs Harper to her family. Instead of using the moment to come out, Harper digs herself deeper into the closet, which serves as an emotional gut-punch to Abby. Harper does eventually come out to her family — on her own terms, which is incredibly important — but viewers may be taken aback at how the moment defies expectations of the genre. Harper's one of the lead characters, and in a moment where she might have taken control of her narrative, she turns away from her identity and hurts the woman she loves most. 

In an interview with IndieWireHappiest Season co-writer and director Clea DuVall spoke about the moment and why she chose to include it in the film. 

Clea DuVall on how coming out is different for everyone

Coming out to family members can be an immeasurably difficult task for those in the LGBTQ+ community, especially when they don't know how their family will react. Harper doesn't think her upper-crust, well-to-do family will embrace her sexuality with open arms, so she's understandably skittish with pursuing the moment. To make matters worse, Sloane completely takes away Harper's choice. She's forced into addressing her sexuality in front of her family when she's not ready, and as a result, Harper insists Sloane's lying. 

DuVall spoke about the moment during her conversation with IndieWire, explaining, "We all have our baggage, we all have our main triggers and our fight or flight responses, and I think Harper is someone who was like operating in this certain way for a long time."

While it's understandable that viewers would be angry at Harper for hurting Abby in saying that Sloane is lying about her being a lesbian (on top of everything else that hurts Abby during the holiday trip), there's a way to have empathy for Harper in this moment, according to DuVall. "It's this devastating moment where your instincts kick in and you realize that you have not come as far as you thought you have, because you haven't really confronted yourself," she told IndieWire. "It's a very humbling moment and something that I think we can all relate to, no matter what it is we're overcoming. You don't overcome it on the first try."

After Harper denies she's a lesbian, Abby leaves and her friend John (Dan Levy) follows her. John's the one who convinces Abby to go back inside by offering a speech, during which he reveals that when he came out to his father, he kicked him out of the house and didn't speak to him for 13 years. Everyone's coming-out journey is different, and as DuVall explained, "I wrote this speech about coming out, because I was thinking about how we can have compassion for Harper in that moment." 

She went on to say, "[Harper] does do something that is pretty bad and I can see why an audience would be upset with her, but it's also about wanting to have compassion for people who are going through that. Coming out is so different for everybody. For some people, it's super easy and I think that's great for them, but for a lot of people, it's really not."

Happiest Season is available to stream on Hulu now.