The happiest Season may have been about Harper and Abby’s relationship, but the movie proves that Abby and Riley should have been the endgame.
Hulu’s Happier Season may have been about Harper’s (Mackenzie Davis) and Abby’s (Kristen Stewart) relationship, but one of the standout elements of the film was Abby’s chemistry with Riley (Aubrey Plaza). Abby sought Riley’s company during tense times with Harper and her family, particularly when she felt withdrawn. They may have become friends, but social media was full of disappointment at not having been more than that.
The sweet Christmas rom-com centers on Abby as she accompanies her girlfriend Harper back to her parents’ house for the holidays. Abby plans to propose before learning that Harper is not on the side of her conservative family, so they pretend to be platonic roommates for the week, and the typical rom-com shenanigans ensue. Abby quickly gets caught in a tough spot when she sees the woman she loves to turn into someone she doesn’t recognize to protect her lie.
Abby befriends Riley, who happens to be Harper’s ex-girlfriend when she finds herself in these challenging moments with Harper. The two women are bonded by shared experiences and generally similar personalities. Lastly, Happier Season proves that they would be a better match than Harper and Abby, but pairing them, in the end, would have gone against the unspoken rules of the genre.
Halfway Happier Season, Riley reveals that she secretly dated Harper in high school. They grew up in a conservative area, which meant that their homosexuality was generally frowned upon.
So when her classmates found the love notes that Harper and Riley passed out, Harper panicked and said that only Riley was gay and she was obsessed with her. Riley shares this story with Abby when she realizes that Harper is hiding their relationship.
While the movie later points out that each queer person’s coming out story is different, Abby explicitly states that she wants to be with someone who is comfortable with herself. Abby and Riley’s experiences show that this person is not Harper. But it’s Riley, which makes her a better match for Abby.
Abby and Riley’s personalities also fit better than Abby and Harper’s. Harper is cheerful and easily adapts to the preppy and image-obsessed world of his hometown. Abby and Riley are more cynical, sarcastic, and loathe the splendor that Harper’s parents revel in. Both Riley and Abby are generally more assertive than the many quirky characters in Happier Season.
The saying goes that opposites attract, and Abby and Harper are definitely opposites, but their similarities create a palpable spark and better banter than Abby and Harper share. Happier season.
Abby and Riley may have been the best couple in the movie, but they were never going to end up together. While their core lesbian relationship makes the movie new and fresh, it is still a romantic comedy. Movies of that genre generally don’t see their central partners breaking up. A romantic comedy usually includes a brief breakup, but the couple usually has a happy ending.
Happier Season Harper was always supposed to accept herself and Abby to be there for her in the end. Riley was only intended to help Abby come to terms with Harper, flaws and all. Abby and Riley may have been a better couple, but that’s not what Happier Season was about.