It's a Netflix Christmas!

If you’re interested in wasting about two hours of your life or ruining your significant other’s evening, I recommend watching these made-for-TV holiday movies

click to enlarge It's a Netflix Christmas!
Illustration: Phil Valois

Made-for-TV holiday movies are a unique genre of cinematic storytelling wherein reality does not exist. For example, a surprising amount of dead characters come back to life and no one freaks out about it; elevators are enchanted and no one freaks out about it (there’s a whole subgenre dedicated to magic elevators); or people travel through time to fix relationship mistakes… and no one freaks out about it. Workaholic single women — generally employed as bizarrely inaccurate interior decorators, journalists or “executives” — appeal to Santa’s powers to meet Mr. Right and everyone is mostly white, lonely and looking for a miracle.

Which is where I come in. I am the Nielsen viewer who watches 100 percent of completely insane Hallmark/Freeform/Lifetime holiday movies. Except this year. This year I canceled cable and assumed I ruined my own life because I’m missing December’s “Countdown to Christmas,” a sacred month of movie premieres and reruns starring former primetime actors. I will suspend my disbelief forever if I can watch Melissa Joan Hart, Candace Cameron Bure or a beefy Dean Cain get sucked through a candy cane tube into the North Pole, save a quaint country inn from financial ruin via holiday decor and/or compete in a small-town ice-sculpting tournament only to find love on the other end of a chainsaw.

Thankfully, many of the best made-for-TV treasures are on streaming platforms. (Netflix = a Christmas miracle.) And if you’re interested in wasting about two hours of your life or ruining your significant other’s evening, I recommend watching these.

A Christmas Prince — This is a new Netflix original starring Rose McIver (an actress I follow on instagram) as Amber, a struggling New York journalist, and some generic white dude as Richard, the prince of a made-up European country called Aldovia. Amber is sent on assignment to Aldovia to cover Richard’s coronation and dig up some royal gossip on the international playboy only to be inexplicably mistaken for Richard’s sister’s new American tutor! She corrects no one and blurs some ethical lines by embedding herself with the royal family, during which time she discovers the prince is not the insensitive douche people think he is (aka he can play Christmas songs on the piano).

Spirit of Christmas — This is a weird ghost one. Some hot dude with a hipster fade is a rumrunner during Prohibition in Vermont. He’s murdered in the snow at his own Christmas party sometime in like the 1920s and is now cursed to come back to physical form for 12 days a year to haunt the house, which is now an inn, and try to solve his own murder. Fast forward to present day and this single lawyer lady Kate, who works way too hard and can never keep a boyfriend, gets sent to sell the inn for some plot reason. The innkeeper tells her about the ghost and that he won’t be happy about the sale. She doesn’t believe in ghosts but then — surprise — she meets one and notices he’s super hot but also kind of a dick because he only gets to be a human 12 days a year and he eats a weird amount of apples. Blah blah blah Kate falls for the dude, who had been married when he died and is ALSO A GHOST, and he’s falling for her but having mixed feelings about cheating on his wife, who is another dead person. Together, Kate and the hot ghost try to free him from his Christmas curse. They also make out.

12 Dates of Christmas — High marks for the title pun; even higher marks for the fact that it stars Mark-Paul Gosselaar as the potential love interest of Amy Smart, another character named Kate. All women are apparently named Kate. Here, Kate is a 30-something blonde chick who is pining over her recently engaged ex-boyfriend — a dude in a leather jacket — so her stepmom sets her up on a blind date with Gosselaar on Christmas Eve. Kate effs that up and then embarrasses herself in front of her ex, from whom she is borrowing a dog? (It’s unclear if they used to own the dog together or not.) Thankfully, when the clock strikes midnight, she Groundhog Day’s it back in time to relive Christmas Eve over and over again. FOR 12 DAYS! During this repeat, she learns to appreciate strangers and acquaintances It’s a Wonderful Life-style, while also falling more in love with Gosselaar with every do-over (without him knowing/remembering). Will today ever end??

How Sarah Got Her Wings — Spoiler: Sarah is dead. The movie starts at a church where Sarah is hanging out and helping homeless people, including a guy whose dog ran away. She offers to go look for the dog, checks outside, finds the dog under a car, picks it up and then she and the dog get hit by a bus and die. Sarah goes to heaven, which looks like a posh white sparkly hotel lobby. The angel lady at the gate tells her she isn’t on the list and that if she wants to get into heaven, she has to go back to earth to right some wrong in her life. That’s apparently interacting with her ex-boyfriend, who looks like a low-budget Chris Pratt, and helping him buy a bar? The film also includes Festivus Feats of Strength and multiple mentions of Steve Jobs as an angel.

Holiday Engagement — Do you miss Shelley Long? Me too. But she’s in this movie! As character Hillary’s mom. Hillary is supposed to bring her high-powered attorney fiancé home for a holiday weekend (he drives a Tesla and loves golf) but when they break up, this recently fired journalist heads to the internet to find herself a fake fiancé! There’s a montage scene of potential suitors, including a bank robber and a surfer. But Hillary settles on a struggling actor named David, who she met while he was dressed like a giant cellphone. She brings David — an absolute stranger — home to her family. Antics and emotional complications ensue.

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