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An Ode to the Height Difference in ‘Happiest Season’

Pairing Kristen Stewart and Mackenzie Davis in a lesbian holiday rom-com is important and brilliant for many reasons, but above all, it’s affirmation for altitudinally challenged couples everywhere

Hulu/Ringer illustration

All of this year’s most buzzworthy movies and television shows have made us look at our own lives and relationships in a new light. Normal People made us ask, “Do we need to buy the men in our lives a chain?” [Ed. note: From personal experience, APPARENTLY YES.] Tiger King begged the question: Who needs men at all when you’ve got a cat? And The Queen’s Gambit made me wonder whether I could replace all human connection with a hobby, if only I could find the one at which I am unbelievably talented.

Luckily for my friends, family, and pets, Clea DuVall’s delightful Christmas rom-com Happiest Season has come along just in time to spark in me a new sense of purpose: It is imperative that I find a tiny, pocket-sized girlfriend.

Happiest Season, the latest in the far-too-sparse queer holiday genre, follows Abby (a platinum-blond, charmingly awkward Kristen Stewart) and Harper (my lanky queen, Mackenzie Davis) as they head home for the holidays while attempting to hide their relationship from Harper’s parents, who don’t know she’s a lesbian. Hijinks ensue, of course, but the actual plot of the movie is not the highlight of my viewing experience. Nay—I was more fixated on the deeply adorable height difference between Davis and Stewart.

As a woman near six feet tall, height differences in relationships are usually a thorn in my side. I typically do my best not to be the taller person—and tend to succeed in that endeavor when dating men—but the mere facts of human biology have made this difficult in recent years as I expanded my scope to also include the superior sex. According to the CDC, the average adult woman in the United States is a meager 5-foot-4, which used to be a real point of contention for me. I hate having to wear flat shoes, hunch down in pictures, and lean against walls to hear in crowded rooms. My neck is ruined, dear reader. Ruined!

But lo and behold! I have seen the error of my ways, due to the brave choice to cast the (allegedly) 5-foot-11 Mackenzie Davis as a willowy girlfriend to the (allegedly) 5-foot-5 Kristen Stewart. (I think Mackenzie’s height looks about right, but the opinionated commenters of seem to think Kristen is closer to 5-foot-3 or 5-foot-4.)

Screenshots via Hulu

Maybe it’s just that we don’t see lesbian relationships in films like this very often, so the height difference seems more striking than it would with a man and a woman. I don’t care! I’m obsessed with it. Kristen Stewart spends every frame of this movie looking like a sexy little hobbit. (And incidentally, she does spend the film carrying a ring into unfamiliar and threatening territory.) Stewart is—and I say this with love—a little prickly no matter what character she’s playing, but by being the teeniest person on-screen at all times, her character also ends up being… adorable? She spends more time on her tiptoes in this movie than she has tiptoeing around her Twilight legacy for the last decade.

As for Davis, she and her constant tall-girl hunch are so relatable that it hurts. (Like I said: my neck.) The men of this movie, Victor Garber and Jake McDorman, are the only people who come remotely close to her eyeline. Davis spends so much of Happiest Season doing the lean—against brick walls to make out with Abby, against a crowded bar to talk to her tiny girlfriend, and in the back row of Christmas photos. I hope no one in this movie was particularly attached to anything they were wearing below the collarbone, because if Davis is on-screen, we’re probably not going to see much of it. Yes, she sits a lot too. No, it doesn’t really even things out.

As Abby and Harper’s relationship starts to crack midway through the movie, romantic rivals appear, including McDorman as Harper’s high school ex-boyfriend and Aubrey Plaza as the high school ex-girlfriend who bonds with Abby. It’s hard not to enjoy watching Plaza and Stewart together on-screen—they’re the queens of awkward comedy, and it’s nice to admire Abby’s sick blazers when she gets to stand with someone who allows her entire torso to be in the frame.

I imagine the internet will latch on to Riley (Plaza) and Abby as the fan-favorite ’ship coming out of Happiest Season, but the internet will be wrong. Sure, Harper isn’t the most likable character at times—the conflict of the entire movie hinges on her unwillingness to tell anyone about her relationship with Abby, and she treats Abby like shit in the process. But Harper’s story is sympathetic, too—coming out is hard, and the idea of disappointing Victor Garber and Mary Steenburgen, who play her parents, is a nightmare (that I’ve actually had IRL). Plus, enduring a height-challenged relationship is a near-impossible task, one that I now see must be celebrated.

I’m sorry, but until Aubrey Plaza grows a foot and becomes the literal Terminator, she doesn’t stand a chance.