When Calls the Heart is a show about love, redemption, and forgiveness. The popular Hallmark series in the middle of its sixth season has fans talking not just about story arcs, but about real-life news.
Lori Loughlin, best known for her role as Aunt Becky on Full House, plays the role of Abigail Stanton – an entrepreneurial woman with an independent spirit and a forgiving heart.
In light of news Loughlin has been indicted for her alleged role in a college bribery scandal, fans of the show have struggled to align the purported misdeeds of the actress with the laudatory values of her character.
In the short time since news broke, Loughlin’s Twitter account has been deleted but her name and situation have trended. The group of Hallmark fans known as Hearties have come together in their online communities to try and make sense of something that doesn’t make sense.
Reactions range from expressions of anger and rationalization to forgiveness and sympathy.
“As a fan and viewer of When Calls the Heart since the first episode, I feel hurt and betrayed by Lori Loughlin’s actions,” wrote Meredith Leonard.
“I’m devastated by Lori Loughlin as a Hearties fan,” wrote EastCoastJulz.
A user by the name of Nan expressed frustration for the sympathy pouring towards Loughlin. “Let’s hear prayers for the victims,” reads her post.
Another commenter conveyed irritation anger is being sent Loughlin’s way at all. “Lori just wanted better for her kids!” wrote Lauren. “What parent doesn’t?”
Other fans have stopped short of excusing Loughlin’s alleged behavior, but expressed their desire to see the Hearties display the forgiveness they so admire in the fictional characters from the TV series.
“We may need to show some compassion and mercy like Abigail showed Henry,” wrote Rene Bibb, in reference to the mine owner whose greed killed the husband and son of Loughlin’s character.
“Dear fellow Hearties,” wrote Nathan Gomez, “please remember to keep our fellow Heartie, Lori Loughlin and her family in our prayers. We are an extended family and family stands by one another when life’s road gets bumpy.”
As fans struggle with the cognitive dissonance between the actress and her character, a consensus seems to be trending towards a feeling of disappointment mixed with a desire to forgive.
In a December 2018 interview, series co-creator and Christian entertainment executive Brian Bird spoke about the role of forgiveness in When Calls the Heart.
“I’ve always loved writing characters who need to be redeemed and have to travel a long way in their character quests,” said Bird.
Although he was speaking of the character of Henry Gowen (Martin Cummins), his words have special application to fans wrestling with feelings of betrayal.
“Hearties are a community just like Hope Valley,” wrote Charlotte Humphries. “This heartie chooses to forgive Lori. That’s one thing When Calls the Heart has taught me.”