Fans who were thrilled to see Alison Sweeney and Cameron Mathison back in action with the first “Hannah Swensen Mystery” in two years are now expressing shock and worry over the way Hallmark‘s “Carrot Cake Murder” ended.
Many viewers who watched the movie’s premiere on May 19, 2023, have taken to social media, complaining and debating about the surprise ending. With another installment of the popular series already in the works, Sweeney has tried to explain the thinking behind the plot twist and says she suspected fans might be upset with her.
Spoiler Alert: If you don’t want to know what happens in “Carrot Cake Murder: A Hannah Swensen Mystery,” do not keep reading.
Hallmark Fans Stunned by Lack of ‘Happy Ending’ in New Hannah Swensen Movie
Hallmark’s “Hannah Swensen Mysteries” series is based on over 30 books about the baker and amateur detective written by Joanne Fluke. Five movies aired from 2015 to 2017 under the “Murder, She Baked” banner, but after executives on the project changed and the series was rebooted in 2021, Sweeney told TV Goodness that they changed the name to “Hannah Swensen Mysteries.”
Sweeney has starred in all of the films alongside Mathison, who plays her fiancé, Detective Mike Kingston. Fans have long loved the on-screen couple’s connection and natural chemistry, so it came as a shock when “Carrot Cake Murder” ended with them splitting up.
In the new movie, the seventh in the series, Hannah wants answers after she discovers the body of a man who died in 1995, but the police department seems uninterested in exploring the cold case, given his criminal past and lack of family so many years later. Hannah secretly digs into the mystery and when she closes in on the killer, she realizes that Mike called for backup and has been funneling her results to the sheriff without telling her.
Though Mike begs her to see it from his perspective, Hannah takes off her diamond ring and breaks off their engagement. She winds up uncovering a new angle in the investigation before the movie’s end, but the rift between her and Mike goes unresolved. Many viewers took to social media to express their frustration about the cliffhanger.
When one person tweeted, “So is Hallmark out to destroy all of the happy endings now? Is that their new brand?” Hallmark star Paul Campbell shared the tweet and quipped, “Happy endings cost extra.”
Others were frustrated that Hallmark allowed for the unhappy ending, with one tweeting, “I cannot believe they did this!”
Some people shared their shock and disappointment about Hannah’s on-the-spot decision to give back her ring, calling her breaking up with Mike an overreaction.
One person tweeted, “I’m annoyed by the conflict and think Hannah was wrong to be mad at him. She could have been upset or disappointed but breaking off the engagement was too far out. #TeamMike always and forever #HannahSwensen”
Another frustrated fan surmised that Hannah will wind up with her longtime family friend Norman, tweeting, “What because of that she broke up with him that is just plain crazy I bet Hannah just wanted to date the other guy because in the books she chooses the other guy and marry him not Mike”
In a Reddit chatroom devoted to Hallmark Movies, viewers had similar reactions. One person wrote, “This movie just pissed me off. Seriously. How old are the characters. Literally the most childish and overly dramatic ending of a relationship. I hate being annoyed at female characters.”
“She was extremely foolish in her decision,” someone else wrote. “To go from 0 to 60 like that seemed uncharacteristic.”
But not everyone was mad about the movie; other viewers posted that they liked the storyline and were curious what would happen next, since Sweeney confirmed to TV Fanatic on May 17 that another movie is already in the works.
Sweeney, who is now executive producer of the series, told TV Goodness that the next movie, titled “Zest for Death,” will be filmed soon and premiere in the summer of 2023 — and that she had suspected some fans would be upset about the breakup.
“It was really important to me that the fans know there is another one coming so that when they watch the end and they’re upset with me, I promise (there is) more to come,” she said.
Alison Sweeney Explains Reasons for the ‘Hannah Swensen’ Cliffhanger
Sweeney has said she understands fans’ shock over the cliffhanger and has tried to explain why they chose to create some tension in Mike and Hannah’s relationship.
In an interview published on May 20, the day after the “Carrot Cake Murder” premiere, Sweeney told TV Shows Ace, “When Hallmark agreed to develop two movies back-to-back this summer, we thought it was the right time to take the chance on examining the complications between Mike & Hannah. In the books the movies are based on, Joanne Fluke has written a definite rollercoaster of a romantic life for Hannah.”
Sweeney told the outlet she’s had conversations with Fluke, who originally created the characters, about the “complex feelings” between Hannah, Mike, and her longtime friend Norman while developing this storyline. And she said she didn’t want to leave fans hanging for a whole year after that cliffhanger.
“You’ll see how Mike and Hannah deal with the fallout,” she said of the upcoming movie. “And how Delores feels about Hannah being un-engaged. Believe me, she’ll have a lot to say about that!”
But, Sweeney wanted to assure fans, “Mike is not giving up on Hannah, and of course Hannah still loves Mike. So this is just another challenge for them to overcome. And hopefully, the fans will enjoy the process of seeing them work their way back to each other.”
Sweeney expanded on that to TV Goodness, saying that this wrinkle adds an important new layer to the characters’ relationship.
She said, “I love developing stories where, as fun as it was for them to be together and they’re just crime-solving besties, this story of wanting to be together, of finding their way back to each other, and earning each other’s trust again, the tension and the romance and the grand gestures that they have to make to earn it back is, to be honest, my favorite part.”
As for how she thinks Hannah handled the situation with Mike, she told TV Shows Ace, “I am proud of Hannah for standing up for herself. She felt betrayed by Mike for not confiding in her what was really going on with the sheriff. And she needed for him to hear her and understand how deeply that affected her.”
“Carrot Cake Murder: A Hannah Swensen Mystery” will air again on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries on May 23 at 9 p.m. Eastern time, May 29 at 9 p.m. Eastern time, and June 17 at 7 p.m. Eastern time. It can also be streamed on Peacock.