Community and Rick & Morty creator Dan Harmon brought the internet's attention to a strange conspiracy within the realm of Hallmark Christmas movie narratives. Sister Swap: Christmas in the City and Sister Swap: A Hometown Holiday are two different Christmas movies, released by the Hallmark Channel one week apart. Both movies star real-life sisters Ashley Williams and Kimberly Williams-Paisley, who appear as the same set of twin sisters in both films. In true Hallmark fashion, these sisters must switch places (small towns/big cities) for Reasons that will ultimately lead them to True Love. Both films are written and directed by the same people.
And yet somehow, they're also different movies? As Harmon wrote on Instagram:
The same conversations are happening in each one but there's no "Rashomon" or "Peep Show" angle, the dialogue in each version is identical but the scenes are cut differently because I assume they just had different editors. In one of the movies, one of the sisters has a full flashback about her relationship with the other sister. In the other sister's movie, you don't get a different version of the same flashback. You just don't get a fucking flashback in that one. In both of the movies, they spend 1 minute trying on hats but in ONE of the movies, they also try on glasses. We're freaking out and I can't keep typing about it I will come back later i fucking love Christmas though
He even cut a few of the scenes together to demonstrate how they're the same movie but also … not.
Eventually, one of the sisters responded to Harmon's post, providing some context:
We wanted to do something outside the box for the genre but also stay in the genre, and my sister came up with this brilliant idea of two films that take place in the same time frame and sometimes overlap, and it took us years to figure out the puzzle, and then, Hallmark finally let us DO IT.
An Executive Producer (who's apparently married to one of the sisters, because of course) added:
We had one editor and edited them in tandem. They share 9 scenes, with different edits to those scenes that favor whichever sister's movie it is.
So essentially, one movie focuses on each sister … but, because it's Hallmark, their journeys aren't so different anyway, and they're dealing with the same plot of switching places, just in the opposite direction.
On one hand, it's a weird narrative experiment. On the other … smart move on Hallmark's part to save on production costs, I guess.