It also says a lot about where Netflix lives in the great holiday romance movie channel socio-political spectrum that they can casually make a main character bisexual (as I had been hoping he might be all along) like it’s no big deal. No hand-wringing coming out speech, nasty remarks about his masculinity, or negation of prior relationships necessary. Put that in your Yule Log and smoke it, Candace Cameron Buré!
2. Christmas with You
This sweet Freddie Prinze Jr. vehicle brings a much-needed dose of ethnic and racial diversity to the annual holiday romance offerings, and the songs are actually pretty cute too. Aimee Garcia (Lucifer, Dexter) is a pop star spinning her wheels trying to come up with a hit Christmas tune to stay relevant. Prinze, actually getting to play his Latinx heritage here, is a music teacher, dad, bygone songwriter, and tragic windower raising a teenage girl who happens to post a cover song on social media of one of Garcia’s tracks. Predictability isn’t a detractor in this one, though it’s worth noting that this movie falls closer to a drama than a comedy in spite of the efforts of a straight-talking manager and tequila-swilling grandmother.
Like most of this list, there is an off-screen parental death a few years prior to the action, but this movie actually comes by it honestly. The character Angelina is named for the screenwriter’s own mother, who passed away. Christmas with You actually tries to be a good movie and sometimes falls short, though it has a lot of heart and seeing romantic leads over 40 is pretty great. Bonus points: The teenage daughter is not weirdly sexualized and instead gets to have fun, sweet, age-appropriate storylines about her quinceañera and the boy she likes, with the wardrobe to match. Christmas with You can be a bit slow and a bit too earnest, but that’s the trade-off for a movie that, well, tries.
3. The Great British Baking Show: Holidays
Take a break from holiday prep and get some inspiration, or just some laughs, with the Great Holiday Baking Show, the Christmas edition of The Great British Baking Show (or Bake-off, if you’re in the UK). This already sweet and cozy reality competition series becomes even more charmingly kind and collaborative during celebrity episodes where it’s less about who has the best bake and more about who can work the words “soggy bottom” into the most jokes.