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The Story Behind Why Hallmark’s The Way Home Is So Different From The Network’s Other TV Programming

 Image of Chyler Leigh in Hallmark's The Way Home 2023.
Image of Chyler Leigh in Hallmark's The Way Home 2023.

I’ve been a huge fan of Hallmark’s schedule of programming ever since my mother was fighting cancer. Along with the hospital trips, we spent a winter watching Christmas movies in between chemo sessions. So, I’ve seen a lot of the network’s amazing programming and some of its lower budget duds. To me, the network’s most exciting programming over the last year has not been its Christmas movies or even its best rom-coms, and instead has been a TV series called The Way Home. There’s a story behind why the new series is so much better quality than the network’s other TV programming. Let’s dig in.

The Way Home Didn’t Start Off At The Hallmark Network

No shot at shows I’ve watched for years like When Calls The Heart, but The Way Home is much more high concept than some of its Hallmark predecessors. In addition it sports a notable cast, and while some names such as Andie MacDowell have done work with the cabler in the past, Grey’s Anatomy star Chyler Leigh was a real get, and the Hallmark series ended up being her Supergirl follow-up. It also deftly mixes a time travel plot with family drama in a way that never feels forced. And it’s inspired new audiences to watch, including our 36-year-old male EIC, who’d never watched Hallmark much before.

One of the big reasons The Way Home is seemingly higher caliber than most of the other programming is that EVP Lisa Hamilton Daly brought it with her when she came to Hallmark. She’d been set up at Netflix previously and when she left, the drama came with her.

I’ll tell you a little secret — well, it’s not even secret. I brought that with me. I was at Netflix previously and I developed that there. I have been in love with that show ever since it was pitched to me at lunch one day and the team and everybody did an incredible job bringing it to life. It only gets better. Stuff gets mind blowing by the end, so I’m really excited that people are loving it.

She’s not the only one. In a cast interview, Andie MacDowell opened up to Fox5 and shared exactly what drew her to the project, noting, “It’s really really special. It’s a great script.” The actress, who has worked extensively with the cabler on original movies such as At Home In Mitford and also on the series Cedar Cove also shared more with Moviefone about how it’s not standard Hallmark fare.

I was just blown away by the script. It just gave me chill bumps. I love the fact that it took place on this farm. … But then when my daughter comes home, and we have all this trouble between us, she brings my granddaughter that I've not had the opportunity to be with. I warn her about this pond, and she goes into the pond and then ends up going back in time and seeing me in 1999 and meeting her mother at 15. That's when it blew my mind open and it continues to happen over the season. We couldn't wait to get the next script and were so surprised by what was happening. It's a real trip. It's a great trip. It's very different for Hallmark, though. But they still have great romance and some beautiful men.

I mean... it wouldn't be Hallmark at all if there weren't some beautiful people involved, so I'm glad the show kept that piece of the puzzle!

Meanwhile, Netflix has made a habit of signing up for a wide variety of genre content from true crime Netflix shows to higher concept fare. If you're watching Ride or When Calls The Heart, the time travel drama may feel a tad out of place. However, while I do think The Way Home would have been a good fit on the streaming service, I’m also happy to see it at Hallmark, where it will hopefully be the starting point for a bolder range of content there. Speaking of...

The Way Home Is Already Renewed For Season 2

The best news? The Way Home is already renewed for Season 2. While it took Hallmark a bit longer than I would have liked to make the decision, I’m just happy it’s coming in the future. Ahead of its March 2023 finale, Daly said the audience had "enthusiastically embraced" the series and it would be coming back for another round.

Previously Chyler Leigh had also expressed interest in the time travel component of the series, noting how that left space for tons of potential seasons to come, so the cast was thinking about new episodes prior to this announcement. In fact, she's bullish the show could eventually do 100 episodes. (Via The List)

We get to go back to 1999. Who knows where else anybody might go? There's always that. A hundred episodes in — for sure, we got it.

Still, a greenlight is always much better than hope from the cast. If you missed this one the first time around, you can watch the first season in full with a Peacock subscription or with the Hallmark Movies Now app.